Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chaka Khan Shines in Benefit for amfAR's 25th Anniversary

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 2:00 PM

  • Drew Altizer
  • Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan asked the stylish crowd at the makeshift Moroccan-themed tent outside Ken Fulk's studio last weekend to join her in singing, "I'm Every Woman." But the iconic female anthem might have resonated more (albeit off-key) with the "power gays" than the actual women in attendance: haute couture collector Tatiana Sorokko, author Sloan Barnett, and Liza Minelli's former stepmom Denise Hale. If these gals are every woman, then I'm a freakin' modern-day Truman Capote with a splash of Cameron Crowe and a swirl of Armistead Maupin.

Chaka Khan's intimate performance was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, with a benefit dinner and dance party. And who can kick off a dance party better then the queen of funk? The 10-time Grammy winner looked fresh-faced and glowing as temperatures rose inside the tent to mildly uncomfortable even for exotic cocktail attire. Yet she belted out flawless renditions of "I Feel For You" and "Tell Me Something Good." Chaka Khan still has this vibe about her: less like a diva, and more like your funky mother-in-law, knocking out her timeless hits as if swatting down flies.

Alan Cumming, Ken Fulk, Lance Horn - DREW ALTIZER
  • Drew Altizer
  • Alan Cumming, Ken Fulk, Lance Horn

During her set, I placed my reporter's notebook down on the table next to me, so I could dance more freely. That's when I caught sight of Alan Cumming nearby. Minutes later I saw him flipping through the pages and giggling to his comrades. Were my questions that amusing? I mean, how creative can you get when interviewing someone like Alan Cumming? After the performance, I retrieved the notebook and walked out. I had learned everything I needed to know about Alan.

Outside I prepared to talk to event host Andy Cohen, only to realize that my interview questions on my notebook were missing. Turns out, I had underestimated Mr. Cumming. He was not only giddy like an overgrown teenager; he was also a clever klepto.

Luckily, there is a reason why Cohen does live TV, and it was effortless to start an unscripted conversation with him. I asked him about his upcoming memoir, the one he got a $1 million advance to write, and he said that it was coming in early 2012. As for the process, he relied on a journal he wrote from 1987 to 1999.

"I read them all again in August, and it was one of the most cringe-worthy experiences of my life," he said. (Apparently he hasn't watched an episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey, or DC, or Miami.)

Andy Cohen and Yigit Pura - DREW ALTIZER
  • Drew Altizer
  • Andy Cohen and Yigit Pura

Back inside, the socialites and their "plus-ones" danced to DJ Grind and DJ Kiss, both spinning mainly Top 40. Speaking of tops, the party was catered by Taste, with Top Chef winner Yigit Pura making carrot soup in the kitchen. And just when I thought the event couldn't have been any more Bravo-fied, San Francisco sexpert Emily Morse met briefly with Cohen about her upcoming reality show on his network, which begins taping this week.

But amfAR is not just the charitable cause excuse to throw fabulous parties to use as backdrop to reality TV fodder. Over the last 25 years, the organization has raised $350 million dollars to fund biomedical research for HIV.

"San Francisco is an important city for us," said amfAR CEO Kevin Frost. "Not only is it one of the epicenters of the HIV epidemic along with New York, but we like to get back funding from places where we have invested research."

The organization has invested in research at The Gladstone Institutes. Another important city for amfAR? According to Frost, Dubai. Can you imagine the benefit parties there?

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Oscar Raymundo


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"