After the senseless tragedy in Orlando last month at Pulse Nightclub, I knew I had to do something to help those in need and ones who must carry on. When I woke up that morning on June 12 and read the news on social media about the shooting that left 49 innocent victims dead and dozens wounded I was in shock. I didn’t react emotionally at first going on about my day. But then news continued to pour in through media sources and details unfolded. That’s when I lost it. Hearing the recounts of what people went through, what they heard as they hid for their lives broke me down. I’ve spent too many nights and wee mornings in nightclubs and bars to not have it affect me. Sadly it could and can happen anywhere. As I’m writing this news of 84 people in Nice, France have been shot and killed by a lone terrorist and many more injured.
I’ve lived in Orlando, worked there and have many good friends in Florida. I knew that I could excel at producing a benefit because of my industry experience and chose the proceeds to benefit Pulse Employee Recovery Fund. I felt that the GoFundMe pages would primarily go to the families of the victims. Because the staff and entertainers were displaced without that steady work, I felt that if we could help pay a few months rent for someone we did good! I also hoped that if we as a community needed help from someone one day they too would come to our rescue. This was all on my mind and in my heart with my intent. I also wanted to bring our community together.
Through a status update on Facebook, I sent out the message that I wanted to pull together entertainers for the cause. A few performers immediately reached out and a club or two, as well. I reached up on the shelf and grabbed my producers hat getting right to work. A few of the nightclubs in Palm Springs already had something on plan for Orlando so when it was all said and done, COPA Nightclub came forward with interest and planning began. COPA’s manager extraordinaire Dominic “Mr. Miami” gave me the reigns and together with Ben from the Hard Rock Hotel we created a very special evening.
We gave ourselves about 2 weeks to plan and produce. I really wanted to get the money out to those who could use it in Orlando. After Bella Da Ball’s weekly Lipstick drag show, we quickly segued into my benefit WE ARE FAMILY #LoveIsLove including the Coachella Valley’s most generous and talented entertainers. Our cast included Jazmyn Simone, Doug Graham, Anita Rose, Jayla D. Foxx, Crystal Champagne, Jerome Elliott, Derriel Gizmo Carter, Sheena Wolfe, Candace Camera, Keisha D., Robbie Wayne, Brian Scott, Carol Kamenis, Marina Mac and myself. I mixed up music for myself on Garage Band, choosing Nick Jonas’s “Chains” because I knew the kids in Orlando would have loved it. I asked all of the entertainers to keep Orlando in mind when picking music but to do something that makes them happy.
I enjoyed my time onstage and loved being on the microphone playing emcee! I just let loose and got my life letting people see another side of me I’m not able to share too often. We gave sway some amazing raffle prizes donated by Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, Copley’s Restaurant, The Living Desert and COPA Nightclub. MANY THANKS to Bella Da Ball for helping me out with emcee duties and sharing her stage with us, my bro Dominic for his enthusiasm and desire to give back and COPA for hosting us, Nicholas Snow for streaming the event live online, Clifton Tatum and my amazing cast for their talent and time, and to Ben and team from Hard Rock Hotel because if it wasn’t for their amazing involvement we wouldn’t have been half as successful as we were.
There were many wonderful and fun highlights of the evening but when the candlelight vigil of 30 came walking in through the COPA to the front of the stage it was a very special and moving moment. The group walked from the Hard Rock Hotel down the streets into the COPA Nightclub. I was standing at the bar creating the playlist of the DJ and looked up as they walked in with their candles quietly. I honestly fought back tears. I was aware they were planning on doing it but it was so impactful at that very moment, I was quite moved and still am.
With the generous donations, performer’s tips and raffle prize money we raised $1394 for the Pulse Employee Recovery Fund! For an event on a “school night” in a town that doesn’t stay up late, I’M THRILLED! I was able to meet people in our community that I hadn’t had the unique opportunity to before and enjoy the talents of many entertainers I respect and admire. I’m proud of myself for setting out to do something genuinely from the heart and following through with that!
Smile at one another and peace be with us all. ♥