Thursday, December 22, 2011

9 of 30: Volunteering Part 2 - Helping The Rich, Gay and Fabulous

Through Project Angel Food, I was introduced to people in another pretty active non-profit organization called – APLA – Aids Project Los Angeles, which is an organization that dedicates their time improving the lives of people with HIV disease.
One of my co-bartenders from the Project Angel Food event sent me an email saying APLA was in need of volunteers for their Art Auction event. She mentioned the word “celebrities” in there somewhere, and so of course I was only too happy to help out!

I was assigned as the receptionist for the night, checking people in, giving them their bracelets, ushering the VIP’s to their areas, etc. I saw a few minor celebrities, and met a few new people. The organization fed us a really nice dinner too! It was pretty awesome!

I made friends with the head organizers of the APLA events, and because they liked me, they kept emailing me for fun APLA events they needed help on.

Okay. It’s probably not that surprising that APLA is pretty much a gay pervaded organization. What was surprising to me was the fund raising events they hold, and how RICH these gay men actually are!

The next event I attended or, shall I say, was ‘employed’ for, was a Pool Party at one of APLA’s top dog’s house.  I’m not sure what his position is --- he could be a VP of some sort.
Anyway, his house is nice and everything, but his pool is probably just 10 meters long and 5 meters wide. But they were expecting around 200 people in there! I thought they were a bit insane for even considering this, but as more people turned up, I started to understand why it wasn’t a problem.

Let me backtrack.

I got there, and I was assigned to be a check-in lady. I’m supposed to check if the guests are ‘on the list’, and if not, I was to charge them 125 dollars to get in. I took a quick tour of the pool area before I started working. There were 2 bartender stations, a small pool, and a food area. There’s a small walkway leading up to it that had drink stations as well. This party was packed with alcohol.
As I walked back to my check in station in the front of the house, a young and really good looking and shirtless guy walked passed me, and said, “Hello there,” – in a BRITISH accent.

OK I know this is a stupid cliché, but this was actually one of the moments when someone literally “had me at hello.”

I said “hey” back a little too enthusiastically, and my jaw dropped when I saw him stripping down to his underwear when he got to his post.
He was one of the bartenders.
And the bartenders served in their underwear.
He had a sixpack.

But my heart sank just as quickly as it soared at the sight of him. I remembered I was in a gay event. So he was probably and most likely gay. Urrgh.
As I walked back to my post, I tried to remember the reason why I was there in the first place. It was to HELP, and not to gawk.

But then when people started to show up, I realized it was impossible not to gawk, stare,  or ogle with my mouth open. All of the gay men checking in with me were buff, or chiseled, or topless, and smelled good… They were all Greek gods… and rich ones at that. And it didn’t help that they were all so nice to me too! Complimenting my hair, my skin, calling me Pocahontas… Aaarghhh! I was losing my mind!

I didn’t realize that my ‘bosses’, J and R were observing me the whole time. They were amused at my pain. I asked them about my British bartender, trying to confirm if he was gay or not. J said, “Honey, you know you’re in a GAY function, right? Everyone here is gay…”

Sigh. That did it.

“But…” he continued. My eyes lit up, hopefully…
“I think your boy is the only straight guy in here.”

I was over the moon! They urged me to go and talk to him, so they gave me a break to go and get a drink from his station. So I did as I was told, and waltzed up to him, and ordered a Jack and Coke.
When he handed it to me, he said, “There you go, my love!”

Damn it. I was a goner.

Those who know me, and know me well, know that when someone speaks to me in a British accent, I couldn’t help but respond the same way --- in BRITISH.

So when I took my drink, I said, “Why thank you, dahling! Whereabouts are you from?” (It has to be said that my British accent is really convincing)

He laughed and said, “I live in London!  Been there?”
“Yes! A few times, actually. I have good friends who live in Shoreditch and Bow”
“Ah! Very cool…” he nodded.

Then, because I couldn’t help it anymore, I half yelled – “Could I take mypicturewithyoubecauseyou’resocute!?”

He laughed again, and said, “Yeah! Sure, love!”
We took the photo, I jumped up and down and said thanks, and ran away.

And there it is. That is the story of how I ruined my chances of having babies with the hot British Bartender.
It’s okay. I was there for a good cause. (And that is what I keep telling myself to this day.)

He's honestly better looking in person!
As I ran back, I noticed the pool area for the first time. And once again, my jaw dropped. There were probably more than a hundred people lounging around the place. There were gogo dancers keeping everyone entertained, about 20 people in the pool splashing about, 30 more standing around it, a whole bunch of people by the food area, and everyone else was scattered, socializing and just having a good time. These guys know how to maximize a space! And I suppose, since they were all practically naked, the closer they were to each other, the better!

When I got back to my station, I showed everyone my photo with the bartender as proof that I didn’t chicken out. And because J was so proud of me, he booked me for another event for the following week.
“Honey, if you think this is hot, wait till you see the Bartender Auction happening next week.”

A Bartender Auction. They gathered about 15 of the hottest bartenders from the hottest bars all over LA, and they were to auction them off to the highest bidder for ONE date. ONE DATE. And apparently those bids go up to more than 5 thousand DOLLARS. It sounded soooo crazy, I had to see it for myself.

This time, they assigned me as a “sales associate” of sorts. About an hour before the actual event, I was tasked to walk around the bar where the event was held, and sell auction paddles, to try and get more people to participate. Again, 100% of the proceeds go to their cause. These people are filthy rich!!!

And may I just say that this gay bar I was in, was oooozing with hot men as usual. But when the bartenders started arriving, that’s when the hotness was promoted to another level. Whoever organized the event really took the time and effort to find the hottest bartenders, and my goodness, hot bartenders they were!
There was a mini catwalk in the middle of the bar… and when the program started, the host called the bartenders up for auction one by one to walk down the catwalk and strut their stuff. Honestly, it looked more like a striptease show. The guys really knew how to work it for the gay crowd. 

The Bartenders up for auction. They look gay, but they're straight!
I had a favorite. His name is Adam. He’s sweet and cute and he called me ‘adorable’ when I came up and talked to him.  I loved him. But I wasn’t the only one who did. When he got up on stage, the paddles started raising before the bidding even started… and at the end of it – he raised a whopping 8 thousand dollars!!! For one date with him – 8 thousand dollars!!! 

This is Cutie Adam

And the organization raised a total of 75 thousand dollars for that bartender auction! 75 grand!!!
Isn’t that crazy? When I heard them say that, I was really taken aback. I mean I know it’s all for a good cause, but it was just a little too bizarre for me. And don’t get me wrong – I did have fun on all of those events! And I know I was able to help them.
But for some reason, I didn’t feel any fulfillment at all! I actually felt a little uncomfortable… Almost like I was getting more out of the whole thing than anyone else because there were free flowing alcohol and hot half naked men!  Yeah I was helping them raise money for their cause… But I don’t know… It just didn’t feel like I’m making much of a difference. It’s all been just fun and games, free food, free hot men…

I haven’t met any of the HIV victims they’re trying to help, or seen any of the real work they actually do, I mean besides all the fundraising efforts like the pool party or the bartender auction.

They are so RICH and they earn their money in the most creative and unconventional ways... which is cool, but not necessarily something I'm completely comfortable with though. I can't put my finger on it... maybe it's my innate desire to help those who are in need, and I guess with all the money APLA has, I don't think they necessarily need me that much.

How I feel about this whole thing is nothing against the organization at all. It’s just me, wanting to really get down and dirty when I volunteer… Immediate gratification, I suppose. Knowing and feeling that I’ve made a difference somehow. And I think that for me to accomplish that, I should focus more on a cause that I feel strongly for.

And at least now, I’m a step closer to finding out what it is… because I know now for sure that it’s not this. APLA is a great organization, with tons of rich people to support them. They will be okay…

Now, it’s time to move on to some place where I’m needed more. :) 
And until I know what that is, I will keep on trucking!