|May 19th, 2015
By STEVEN BANKS, ET Canada
The Life Ball is not only one of the most glamourous events on the social calendar – it’s literally a life changer for so many people affected by HIV/AIDS – a disease that has killed over 39 million people since 1981. And it’s for that reason that so many stars from around the world gathered in Vienna, Austria this past weekend to raise money and awareness for the cause!
ET Canada’s Matte Babel returned for a second year in a row via Austrian Airlines to cover this very unique event. And after some much needed rest at the Hilton Vienna – Matte was ready to take on the magenta carpet!
Grammy Award winner Paula Abdul joked she was ill prepared for the outrageous celebration, telling us, “Not only did I not know what I was in store for. I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like this ever again!” But the singer/choreographer did note the importance, opening up about her past experiences with HIV/AIDS: “I lost a tremendous amount of very special people... to this disease and... what I love about this event. It’s very celebratory, celebrating life!”
Last year’s Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst and R&B Legend Mary J. Blige performed at the 23rd Annual event. The nine time Grammy winner also spoke on behalf of amfAR – a global foundation which has invested more than $366 million in AIDS research.
Fellow advocate Charlize Theron brought her rumoured fiancé Sean Penn and opened up about her organization “CTAOP” – which helps adolescents in the most affected regions of Africa. Charlize opened up about her emotional experience with the disease in her homeland of South Africa – saying “HIV thrives in forgotten places, among those who are disempowered and stigmatized!”
Fashion provocateur Jean Paul Gaultier was the focus of this year’s fashion show which featured celebrity models: Kelly Osbourne, Dita Von Teese, Carmen Electra, Paula Abdul and more!
It’s estimated that 35 million people worldwide are living with the disease – many of them benefiting from fundraisers like the Life Ball.
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