3rd Annual “Open Artists w/ Open Arms” WE ARE GOLDEN benefit concert for LIFEWORKS

Last night marked the 1st meeting in 2010 for a benefit concert that my friends and I have been producing for a couple of years now. Bestie and fellow artist, Guy B, and I were chatting on the phone back in 08 about doing a concert together. We thought it make sense for us to find a worthy cause for the show to benefit.

Over the years I’ve been homing in on my “career concept”, a great habit I had gotten into when I was taking acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.  I define a career concept as a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that sums up what you are about as an artist & perhaps more importantly gets you out of bed in the morning. My career concept had always included a vaguely philanthropistic “I wanna do good works for the planet” vibe, but I’d never gotten specific about HOW and WHO I wanted to help. Moreover, in the back of my mind I had attached the qualifying phrase “When I’m famous and have lots of money and a greater circle of influence…THEN I’ll save the planet!”

…well, we’re still waiting for THAT glorious day to arrive!

For those of you who know Guy B., and if you don’t I encourage you to do so, he is an artist with a strong spiritual purpose. He knew of a brilliant cause called Lifeworks, a mentorship program for LGBT&Q youth (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and – you guessed it  – questioning youth…because we are THAT PC!). We had our cause. Now let’s put on a show!

Collectively, Guy & I know a LOT of artists here in LA. Guy asked Brad Bilanin, his co-founder and partner at Media Temple Productions & I asked Kevin Stea, probably the most accomplished working dancer (as a popular art form) on the planet. Brad would head up marketing and branding & Kevin would direct. We had our team.

Then we hit up our talented friends to help with the cause. My friend Tod donated the use of his club space at The Highlands, a very sexy, state-of-the art venue in Hollywood. Working actor and comedian Alec Mapa agreed to host the night. Other artists we love and admire joined the show; DJ Derek Montiero, Leo Moctezuma, Darryl Stephens, Wilson Cruz, Christine O’leary, Racheal Cantu & a bevy of the most talented dancers, singers, musicians, circus performers, producers, and hair & make-up artists in Los Angeles. The result was one of the most magical nights of my life.

We had our share of terrifying moments. My favorite moment to regale from that year occurred on the day of the show at around 2pm. Someone uncovered that somehow, despite our meticulous planning, we had NO red carpet for our red carpet event! Several celebrities and some major press had been confirmed…but NO CARPET! In one of my favorite Guy B moments, he picked up the phone and started dialing. WIthin a few hours a complimentary red carpet was delivered to The Highlands and the day was saved! I still don’t know the details and it may have involved the Isreali mob but I prefer to imagine that it was the magic that comes from creating art with a purpose. 😉

We crossed fingers that we might draw an audience of 500 to attend the event, & our hopes were far surpassed as we packed The Highlands with 800 or more (we lost count in our initiative to get people into the club so we could start on time) hip, colorful, supportive attendees who were the greatest audience ever! I’ll never forget walking into the green room a half hour before the show & realizing there were literally about 100 artists volunteering their time and talents to this concert.

-And it all blossomed from a casual phone call between two friends throwing around ideas about how they could create art together. That “green room moment” will forever be a defining moment in my life, & that first show one of my greatest accomplishments.

Well, you know what they say about magical opening nights. Sometimes, a terrible 2nd performance follows. Well, the 2nd annual “Open Artists with Open Arms” concert, POP GOES THE WORLD was by no means terrible, but it presented some of the many challenges which accompany growing pains. We set out to at LEAST double the size of our show…more sets, bigger space, bigger celebrities, more press, more awareness, MORE! Also, Lifeworks had just recently become a part of the Gay & Lesbian Center which is a huge organization. Being under the umbrella of a huge organization brings it’s challenges as well as it’s benefits.

On the brilliant side, the show featured several top-notch, well-known performers including JoJo (Pop Billboard charting recording artist), Blake Lewis (2nd place American Idol contestant), Fanny Pak (America’s Best Dance Crew), Carmit Bachar (Original Pussycat Doll) & others who levitated the theatre with their talent. We focused our attention for this 2nd show on the kids. We found a space twice the size of the previous year’s venue called The Avalon, a beautiful, historical theatre in Hollywood on Vine just above Hollywood Blvd. We created an amazing pre-show youth lounge for the kids and invited them to attend for FREE. We reached out to neighboring high-school GSAs (gay-straight alliances) and invited them to attend the show as well. We had at least 200 kids up in the balcony for the show that night and those kids embodied the spirit & energy of the evening. They walked away with a free pair of red Levi’s skinny jeans and a bunch of other donated goodies in their gift bags. I got the flu a few days before the show but squeaked out a decent performance with very little voice. I won’t go into detail, but we encountered some -hysterical now/devastating then– SNAFUs (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up) that made the weeks leading up to the event stressful to say the least. It was a MAJOR growing and learning year & totally worth it.

Wiser from experience, we embark upon our 3rd annual OAwOA benefit concert for Lifeworks with a theme of abundance, “We Are Golden”. Brad, who has become a brilliant Executive Producer for the event, is also on the Board Of Directors for Lifeworks. We are honored by the talents and experience of Kyle Kannenberg, Trey Campbell and Ron Pennywell, who are now part of the core team. This week we’re focused on finding a great space for our event. We are leaning toward Arena, a cavernous club space in Hollywood that would be a blast fill up with beautiful art. We plan on diversifying performances to include other exciting, cutting edge art-forms that will make love to your senses! We are more positive and excited than ever as we embark upon pre-production for an event that will occur in September of 2010. Are your seatbelts fastened??

In other news Carmen Perez’s single, “Overload” gained a spot (it was 41 last week, not 43 as I had reported) and is at #40 on the Dance Billboard Charts. I started work on my cover of “Hallelujah” that will be featured in the play Praying Small this year in LA. The play has already been optioned for a film (because that’s what happens to good plays in LA!) and I will hopefully be doing the score for the film. I’m writing songs for several projects in development which I’ll keep you posted on as they develop. Other stuff is happening too, but this is officially my longest blog EVER and I don’t want to scare you away! The next blog will be the SHORTEST blog ever. Promise.

All the best to you this week! I encourage you to take even 1 action a day in the direction of your dreams. XOXO

One Response to “3rd Annual “Open Artists w/ Open Arms” WE ARE GOLDEN benefit concert for LIFEWORKS”

  1. Travis says:

    Yay!! Can’t wait.


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