, , , , , , , , , , ,

Barbara Venezia is a force of nature. I’ve known her for more than 20 years and when she is passionate about something, stand aside or join in. She’s going for it! Her latest passion is the AIDS Services Foundation. Six years ago she founded the nonprofit’s first guild, the Friends of Dorothy, and since then, the group has raised more than $675,000 for the cause (including more than $68,000 netted at the Dorothy fundraiser I attended). The guild’s annual Spring on the Runway Fashion Show Rave was once again held at a warehouse near the Orange County Airport owned by major supporters Susie and Kevin Coleman. You are always guaranteed a good time at this event, trust me!

Barbara was decked out in a colorful wig – her trademark, and this year the color was pink – and the crowd – a sell-out at 500 – enjoyed perusing the silent auction, buying raffle tickets and sampling dinner fare from The Meat House, Tommy’s Burgers, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sundried Tomato, and Diva Cakes, while Barefoot Wine and Bubbly provided the wine tasting bar. Prior to the fashion show, Dave Hester, star of the A&E series Storage Wars, offered an impromptu auction item of a day on the set to watch the filming of the show and lunch with the cast that sold for $1,300.

Sharing emcee responsibilities with Barbara this year was John Fabris, Deputy Editor of The Orange County Register, and once again, longtime Dorothy supporter Mark Eskander, representing the Alice J. Hamilton Charitable Trust, presented a $20,000 check to the guild. And, then it was on with the show, with lights on the 70-foot runway lined with ruby red slippers in a nod to Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Professional models strutted their stuff wearing LA designer’s Clay Sadler’s awesome gowns, casual menswear from Margaritaville Apparel in LA, ladies spring and resort wear from Tulum Island Boutique in Costa Mesa, custom tailored menswear by Rod Alan, also of Costa Mesa, and leather from San Francisco-based West Coast Leather and the OC’s own Dark 8 Leather. And, of course, what everyone was anticipating – the men’s underwear finale provided by LA’s Freedom Reigns. It did not disappoint!