Despite the gravity of the mission, it wasn’t exclusively dire diatribes at the dais at amfAR’s Inspiration Gala at Milk Studios on Thursday night
In the cozy room of 275 that included honoree Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Kelly Osbourne, and Laura Prepon, host Chelsea Handler struck a balance.
“I’m going to give $100,000,” she said late in the program. “I hate going to these things. You get a little buzz going and then whoopsy! I have a traveler’s che-que in my car.”
Sharon Stone and Aileen Getty.
This came immediately after the night’s honoree Aileen Getty decided to donate $1 million on the spot, and Sharon Stone followed up by working the room asking: “Can anyone else donate $500,000?” – one of the most surreal questions to hear poised matter-of-factly – albeit a successful one that landed her two hands in the air.
“Does anybody want to give two dollars? How about 1.50?,” Handler opened when she got the microphone back from Stone.
No car service for these two. Nigel Lythgoe drove himself and Paula Abdul off from the event in his navy Rolls Royce.
Hugo Boss’ Mark Brashear, Alessandra Ambrosio and Hugo Boss’s Ward Simmons during the cocktails, and Kevin Connolly with Lydia Hearst cozied up during the dinner.
Here’s seven more cracks that had Handler lightening the mood while lightening her own and everyone else’s wallet on behalf of the foundation for AIDS research:
“We’re going to drink because nobody is going to bid on a signed Elton John kidney stone when they’re sober.”
Despite Golden Globes nominations coming out earlier in the day, this “Dallas Buyers Club” joke was the only hint of awards season on the night: “A lot of people think that this is a fight that has already been fought and won, or that AIDS is only a problem in other countries, or that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto cured AIDS down in Texas. But they didn’t.”
“I have a lot in common with Sharon Stone, because we both accidentally showed our vaginas and became famous. Hers was in a movie, mine wasn’t.”
“You may know (Lily Tomlin) from her acclaimed one woman show, ‘Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.’ I host a show on the E! network and the Kardashians are also on that network, so I’m here to tell you that the search for intelligence is over.”
“Mr. Cole, Kenneth, was gracious enough to come by my show today (promoting amFAR) and he gave me … one pair of shoes. For somebody who has a shoe empire, I’d say that’s a little Jew-ey. I don’t know if you are a Jew, but you’re acting like a Jew, and tonight’s not the night for that….so baruch atah..”
Kenneth Cole, amfAR’s chair retorted: “Chelsea is a good friend of amfAR… and was a good friend of mine.”
“I hosted this event last year and I was sure that they wouldn’t ask me back…and then they did. So I’m going to try to make this the last time.”
Despite the laugh lines, Handler was heartfelt: “If you ask any of the 60,000 Angelenos or the 1.2 million Americans who are living with HIV/AIDS, they’ll tell you that it’s still a very real problem. That’s why we’re all here tonight to help find a cure and end the AIDS epidemic once and for all.”
Honoree Goldie Hawn laid one on Kurt Russell after picking up her Oscar’s new mantle-mate.
Goldie Hawn spoke of amfAR founder Elizabeth Taylor. “(She) was someone who had a passion, who was inspired to create change fearlessly,” Hawn said. “As you grow up, grow out, and grow older, you’ll realize that the one thing in your life is passion and inspiration,” echoing the night’s name.
Minutes after Beyonce revealed her surprise album online, Grace Jones climbed, kicked, and hula-hooped as she sang to close out the night.
Cole, Stone, and event chair Rich Ross drew strong industry support on the night from CAA, WME, Ross’ Shine, E!, HBO, Disney, and a host committee that included Ambrosio and Stephen Huvane.
All photos except Grace Jones by Jason Kempin and Jason Merritt for Getty Images,