Santa Barbara, California - June 1, 2012 — The glamorous oceanfront Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito, California was the scene of Pacific Pride Foundation's Royal Ball, an opulent evening of entertainment, design, and dancing. Guests came from as far as New York to enjoy the company of queens and kings, dining on fine canapés from a menu created by celebrity Iron chef Cat Cora and served up by exotic butlers adorned in professional custom body paint and tight black pants. Cora served as Honorary Co-Chair along with actors Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.
Combining camp with decadence, event producers Merryl Brown of Merryl Brown Events and David Merrell of AOO Events set the scene with a series of boutique designer showcase booths, where honored guests and major sponsors were invited to lounge in luxury. Seven designers from the west coast were invited to make their mark, with results that included eye candy for a wide range of tastes. Event sponsors were carefully matched with favorite designers in booths as patrons of the royal court, and they were treated to the private service of their own costumed, personal butler throughout the evening.
This design showcase allowed the nonprofit Pacific Pride Foundation to afford the highest quality of design and diversity for the event while allowing designers to present their latest concepts to a captive community of over 400 guests. Design and diversity captured the evening – not just in the showcase, but among the guests, representing the entire community from teens to octogenarians, lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender, everyone coming just as they wanted to be, in simple elegance or over-the-top glam.
The evening-long cocktail party began with Cat Cora's abundant passed hors d'oeuvres prepared by the chefs at the Four Seasons Biltmore on the ocean-side La Pacifica terrace and in the ballroom, featuring baked jalapeño poppers, leek and spring onion tartlets with crab, crème fraîche chickpea fritters with Romesco sauce, cornichon mini Asian steak tacos, spicy mushroom salsa, and grilled pancetta-wrapped shrimp with creamy herb dressing.
The terrace was also the scene of an amazingly well-curated silent auction table filled with the loveliest merchandise gorgeously displayed in a mix of luxury and camp, all with good humor and exquisite taste. Screaming Queens drag queen star Sparkle, adorned in a gown worthy of Versailles, was ensconced in a strolling table with a silver ship sunk into her hot pink wig. Her table featured several fabulous private parties available for purchase, including a sultry Spanish dinner for 40 with a private Flamenco show featuring world-renowned dancer Timo Nunez, dinner at a private Montecito estate for 40 with chef Cat Cora, a day-long party at the exclusive and wild Hollister Ranch, and a 'gay getaway' poolside day of fun in the sun at a private estate in Palm Springs, CA.
To get the party rocking, an entire evening of live entertainment kicked off with Tina Schlieske and the Graceland Exiles. Guests could watch in the ballroom or stay outside on the terrace by the sea and watch a live feed on one of two giant LED screens. Next came Timo Nuñez, a sultry and sexy world-renowned Flamenco dancer, who graced with ballroom with two stunning performances.
David Selberg, Executive Director of the Pacific Pride Foundation took the stage to speak about his organization's mission. For 35 years they have provided counseling and support for gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning youth and their families, and LGBT sensitivity trainings for schools, corporations, senior retirement facilities and law enforcement. They provide free HIV and hepatitis C testing; nursing assistance for HIV positive individuals; countywide HIV prevention and education; food pantries for low-income HIV positive clients, and so much more. With the alarming rate of teen bullying and suicides among gay youth, the increase in HIV infections both in our community and across the nation, hate crimes on our streets, and the continued LGBT struggle for equality, Pacific Pride's work is more important now than ever.
Later in the evening, singer Frenchie Davis from The Voice and American Idol took the stage while guests danced inside and out, alongside Cirque du Soleil performers Eros Biox and Lexi Pearl, on stilts and wearing custom couture gowns designed specifically for the event. The dancing continued to midnight with one of LA's hottest DJs, Derek Monteiro.
Late night snacks were passed, including mini sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches and French fries to revive the partiers and dancers, followed by desserts of bite sizes chocolate caramel tarts and lemon meringue tarts. In the end, guests left exhausted and enriched, having enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous evening and raising money for an equally fabulous cause.
About the Pacific Pride Foundation
Pacific Pride Foundation proudly provides services to the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities of Santa Barbara County. All PPF programs are free or low cost and offered in English and Spanish through our offices in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. For more information, visit: www.pacificpridefoundation.org.
About Merryl Brown Events
Merryl Brown Events is an award-winning event design and production company, specializing in elegant social events, corporate events and weddings that are environmentally sensitive and beautiful. Examining every aspect of an event through a prism of sustainability, the Merryl Brown Events team determines how to create something that is both gracious and green, simultaneously. Known for great attention to detail and the love of old world elegance with a modern twist, Merryl Brown Events plans each event with all of the care, consideration and time that you expect and deserve. Merryl Brown Events was the winner of the 2012 National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-SB) Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award in the Category of Tourism and Hospitality, the winner of the 2011 BizBash West Award for Social Planner of the Year, the winner of the 2011 ISES Esprit Award for Best Green Solution for the 2010 Green Gala, and the winner of the Association of Women in Communications Clarion Award for Best Special Event 2011. For more information, visit: www.merrylbrownevents.com.
About AOO Events
AOO is a multi-faceted creative company, specializing in event design and show production. David Merrell founded the company in 1989 with an understanding of social and corporate client objectives. Meeting and exceeding these goals have made AOO one of the nation's most respected and sought-after design and production firms and has garnered it many Gala Awards for individual events as well as an individual award for Designer of the Year, 2007, for Merrell himself. AOO designs and produces corporate meetings, marketing events, movie premieres, private parties, anniversaries, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvah celebrations and more throughout the United States from Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara to New York, Florida and Washington, D.C. in addition to numerous international destinations. For more information, visit: www.aooevents.com.