Saturday, 20. December 2014
02. 06. 14. - 15:00
By Kathryn Quinn,
Austria's Eurovision star Conchita Wurst stole the show at this year's star studded Life Ball Celebration held this weekend in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Stars flocked to the City Hall where partygoers dressed in elaborate outfits and a lot of body paint rubbed shoulders with stars such as former US President Bill Clinton, Latin singer Ricky Martin, actor Billy Zane, singer Leona Lewis, performer Courtney Love, singer Conchita Wurst and many more stars at Europe's biggest charity event.
The opening ceremony watched by more than 40,000 people in the city centre featured performances by Christina Perry and Ricky Martin but Conchita Wurst stole the show and was greeted with whoops of applause by the audience when she performed her Eurovision winning song 'Rise Like a Phoenix'.
Wurst said: "It's a very special feeling for me, and I am extremely happy."
And she made many others happy too. Legendary fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier said about Conchita: "Conchita is amazing, fantastic, the best of this years styling! I love her, she is the real thing."
The mayor of Vienna who opened the festivities said: "I want to thank Conchita Wurst. The message which we got from the Eurovision Song Contests represents a future we want to see."
Alongside the performances guests were memorised by a fashion show presented by L'uomo Vogue which featured Carmen Carrera, Lindsay Lohan and Courtney Love and many more and outfits from Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivenchy.
The City Hall was decorated head to toe under this year's motto 'Garden of Earthly Delights' and the guests followed this to a tee, with guests partying the night away under the motto "Love is a bloom growing anywhere".
As Clinton opened his speech he said: "I feel very under-dressed here."
But the Life Ball also carries a serious message, the event raises money for AIDS research and this message is not forgotten in the celebrations. This year's Crystal of Hope Award was presented to the project SWAP in Kenya by Marcia Cross and Billy Zane. SWAP - the Safe Water and AIDS Project organisation based in Western Kenya that engages Community Health Promoters to promote health and door to door sales of health and hygiene products.
Organiser Gery Keszler gave a speech on behalf of charity Aids Life and Bill Clinton a long time supporter of the charity gave a speech on behalf of CHAI – the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Clinton said: "Amongst all the joy of this evening: the determination of every person we are here to give every child a better chance."
The ball had drawn criticism for using posters featuring a nude transgender model, Carmen Carrera. Photographer David LaChapelle designed two versions, showing Carrera with either male or female genitalia, along with the slogan: "I am Adam - I am Eve - I am me."
But Life Ball organiser Gery Keszler as well as LaChapelle said the poster was intended to provoke discussion of acceptance and this it certainly did.
Carmen Carrera added: "If someone has felt offended, then I am sorry. But I think it is important to show that there is more than just male or female in this world. That is my message."
The art work was auctioned off at the event and brought in 180,000 Euros for the charity. The specially designed Life Ball Audi brought in 110,000 Euros at the auction and an art work by Gottfried Helnwein was auctioned off for 70,000 Euros.
The Life Ball is now in its 22nd year and has grown from a small local event to the massive star studded event it is today. Last year the ball raised around 2.4 million Euros which went towards organisations to research, treat and prevent HIV and Aids.
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