Tie a silver "Ribbon" 'round the ol' palm tree.
"I've done the show eight times and the easiest thing to do to help people is to give up our talent," says ex-"Jubilee!" dancer Cyndi Reed, one of more than 300 performers representing nearly every Strip show for this year's landmark "Ribbon of Life" fundraising production Sunday at Paris Las Vegas.
"It's a no-brainer."
Marking its silver (25th) anniversary to benefit Golden Rainbow, the nonprofit organization created by local entertainers to provide housing and financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada, "Ribbon of Life" like most charity efforts, is battling the recessionary funk.
"Before the recession, we were making around $250,000 and now that's knocked down to around $150,000," says Golden Rainbow executive director Lea Carrasco-Zanini. "We're hoping to beat that this year. We're really pushing hard to gather the community support. People who never needed help before are now coming to us for the first time and saying, 'I can't pay my rent.' "
Co-hosted by "Zumanity's" flamboyant "Edie" and Chris Saldana of KLAS-TV, Channel 8, and with appearances by comedian George Wallace and vocal group Human Nature, "Ribbon" has tapped talent from shows including:
The former "Evening at LaCage," "Bite," "Centrifuge," "Divas Las Vegas," "Donny and Marie," "Jersey Boys," "The Lion King," "Peepshow," "Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular," "Sirens of TI," "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," "Le Reve" and "Vegas! The Show."
Off-Strip participants include the Las Vegas Locos Cheerleaders, Foothill High School, RagTag Entertainment, the Rio, Studio 54 and the dance department of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The theme running through the combo of intimate numbers and production blowouts: Hollywood and Broadway.
"It's looking back at all the wonderful talent that has been producing the show for 25 years and we're bringing a lot of alumni back," says co-director Chris Coaley. "There's some really fun numbers and there's going to be an eclectic feel."
Screen and stage faves include tributes to "A Chorus Line" and "The Color Purple," plus oldie-but-goodies "Big Spender," "Bosom Buddies," "Pinball Wizard," "Anything Goes," "I Got Rhythm," "Footloose," "Cabaret," "The Lady is a Tramp" and "Time of My Life."
Founded in 1987, Golden Rainbow remains committed to a cause that dates to a sad incident that struck one of the entertainment community's own, a Strip dancer.
"He was living in his brother's garage because he had AIDS and his brother didn't want him living in the house, and that's where he ended up dying by himself," Carrasco-Zanini recalls. "The entertainers got together and said, 'Never again is this going to happen.' They put on their first show in 1987."
Remembering the start of her own AIDS awareness, Reed, who hooked up with Golden Rainbow in 1990, said she joined "Jubilee!" in 1982 as an 18-year-old out of Bishop Gorman High School.
"At that time, AIDS wasn't being spoken about too much," Reed says. "The co-founder of Golden Rainbow, Bree Burgess, was also in 'Jubilee!' with me and she was going around to the gay clubs and passing the hat and trying to raise money and awareness. I started learning from her what AIDS was and that there was a need for people living with AIDS for a place to live."
One of Golden Rainbow's board members who joined the organization in its infancy in 1988, Coaley recalls the terror as the then-mysterious disease decimated the Las Vegas entertainment community.
"AIDS and HIV were in crisis mode and you were performing next to all these amazing people who were contracting the disease and dying within six months -- it was like a war going on," Coaley says.
"It's something that will always be in my mind and soul. That's why I stay."
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@review journal.com or 702-383-0256.