The 22nd annual Life Ball took place a few weekends ago at Vienna’s City Hall, where – as always – thousands turned up to raise money for HIV/AIDS research and awareness. The Life Ball's very expensive ticket gets you this: a chic Cirque du Soleil-ish show with performances and speeches from LGBT’s finest, which takes place outside City Hall Square, followed by a ridiculous late-night bash inside City Hall. The whole thing had overwhelming Disney-palace-gone-wild vibes. I was one of several journalists flown out to cover the LGBT rave. I knew what to expect, as I somehow survived last year’s beautiful mess.
The dress code requirement is either black tie or costume, with this year’s theme being "The Garden of Earthly Delights”. That translated to many a glittery ass cheek and lots of slutty Poison Ivy moments. Courtney Love would describe it best in an Instagram caption: “Everyone was either a ballerina a phallus or a creature! #Lifeball”.
I didn't leave Life Ball unscathed – there's a train-wreck-survivor level of pain happening in my lower back and Life Ball is to blame. Or, more specifically, the Life Ball party plane. Looking back, I should have pocketed some of those painkillers that rolled down the airplane aisle at one point. The whole thing was a drunken, mid-air shitshow populated by drag queens, musicians, Ke$ha and Courtney-fucking-Love, whom I may have woken up after chatting loudly with Orange Is the New Black's Taryn Manning. This was before I was kicked out of first class.
That night, Friday, was the Ball's kick-off cocktail party at the fancy-as-fuck Le Méridien. I thought I had learned from last year to chill a bit and save my strength for the actual Life Ball on Saturday. But apparently that lesson didn't stick.
Camera flashes were popping off, so I followed suit with my disposable. The main event on Saturday was fantastic and exciting and emotional and special. I brushed my hair and wore a BLK DNM head-to-toe suit. It made me feel very Cinderella-ish. I didn't find my prince, per se, but I may have found love in an airplane bathroom the morning before with a tongue-pierced hairdresser, so there's that.
Life Ball definitely gave me life, but it also gave me acne and shin splints. At least I got to hang out in the VIP section and stare at the cocktail-clutching VIPs.
Life Ball's highlights included a flawless Courtney Love walking the runway in a Vivienne Westwood tit-spilling gown and a Ricky Martin performance full of pelvic thrusts. I ended up stalking/kicking it with the first lady of fabulous, Amanda Lepore. While waiting for a cab home from the ball at 5 AM with some of her crew, I offered her my blazer to keep her warm, and then we decided to stay up all night and have breakfast at 6:30, since our shuttle to the airport was meant to arrive at 7:30.
The shuttle was a real mess, but "mess" turned into "blessed" when I ending up once again sharing a cab with Amanda to the airport and happily carrying her pink luggage as she pumped through customs, looking like an IRL Jessica Rabbit. We were the last ones on the plane.
One crumbled Xanax and a Bloody Mary later, I woke up in NYC. Life Ball gave me life, then death and then I was reborn. I've never felt gayer.