Sarah Palin just helped an HIV charity raise about $175,000. To be precise, at Sunday's successful Ribbon of Life fundraising show, a prominent sketch portrayed Palin as a stupid tool.
In a song-and-dance number called "Red State Love Song," the faux Palin (Pietra Sardelli, wearing Palin glasses and a casual smirk) dismissed rumors she underwent breast "augmentation."
"I will not comment on things I cannot spell," she boasted.
Playing off President Barack Obama's "Hope" campaign, the Palin impersonator gaily promised of her 2012 candidacy, "In the Palin White House, there will be no hope!"
"Come on, boys," she said to dancers during a kooky cabaret song. "Let's dance around the issues!"
Things got really nutty when the Palin performer was joined by the scandalized characters of Nevada U.S. Sen. John Ensign (Scott Lockwood), South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (Jim Sturgeon) and former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig (Doug Baker).
They came out of (closet?) doors with their pants down, to dance merrily with girls and boys.
Funny or not, it could have been dangerous to play politics at the main fundraiser for Golden Rainbow (the charity that helps house and cover housing costs for hundreds of people with HIV). It risked biting Republican hands in the crowd of 1,300 at the Las Vegas Hilton, although not a soul booed.
Then again, Palin isn't exactly known for championing gay rights (or the arts, actually). So you could consider her vilification to be comeuppance from gay-friendly artists (a.k.a. payback is a bitch).
On a more positive (and bolder) note, Ribbon of Life invited Green Valley High School theater performers to stage portions of "Rent."
Last year, some parents sued in a failed bid to stop the school's "Rent" performances. (The musical's themes deal with struggling artists facing drugs and AIDS.) A judge nixed the lawsuit.
On Sunday, dozens of Green Valley High School kids stepped up to center stage and were pretty flawless in their Strip moment, bringing genuine emotion to the theme song and "Seasons of Love."
Ribbon emcee Edie (Christopher Kenney from "Zumanity") alluded to the lawsuit controversy when introducing the high schoolers.
"Was that boy in drag?!" Edie (in drag, in character) gasped in mock indignation.
The crowd nearly roared with approval for the high schoolers, for Edie, and for just about all 300 Strip performers who staged 24 numbers in two hours.
It was, as they used to say, quite the cavalcade. Performances came from "Jubilee" showgirls; Nevada Ballet Theatre ballerinas on point; snake-joined women swinging swords; fantastic stripteases of "Adam and Eve" characters by the cast of "Peepshow"; and original material from casts and crews of Cirque shows, "Phantom," "Jersey Boys" and many other productions.
The event gave performers a chance to do something different, other than the routines they run through 10 shows a week on the Strip.
They chose a nearly flawless musical setlist, from Benny Goodman's "In the Mood" to Prince's "Gett Off" and the standard "Quiz·s, Quiz·s, Quiz·s" ("Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.")
Yet, despite the warmly embraced sexuality of the "Peepshow" bit and the politics of the Palin sketch, the most popular moment (judging by applause) was ... the absolutely G-rated, elaborately choreographed number called "Grease Monkeys" co-starring babies and toddlers.
While the song "Greased Lightning" played, dozens of dancers and choreographers from across the Strip danced with their very little children, making babies do the hand jive, and getting young children to step so correctly (thus hilariously), it was kind of impossible for me to believe my eyes.
If I were reviewing Ribbon of Life as a permanent show on the Strip, I'd give it an A-.
That's remarkable, considering Golden Rainbow, which earns about 85 percent of its yearly budget from the annual fundraiser, operates with just two staffers. Two.
They say one person can't make a difference. But sometimes, two can.
Doug Elfman's column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.