However, as the outlook for those affected by HIV/AIDS has brightened, the organization has found that it's been harder and harder to find sponsors for the event, leading to the announcement that this year's event may be the last Life Ball, at least as it's been known for the past 26 years. "AIDS has changed from a death sentence to being a chronic disease.
Though, the difference between that recent Met Gala and the Life Ball might be like that between someone who dresses up in drag for the first time on Halloween (a fun, if not illuminating experience! ) and a title-winning grande dame drag queen who has been doing this for 26 years and has more Camp in the arch of her eyebrow than a typical celeb has in their entire styling teams.
For the grand finale, Lorna Luft came out for a rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow. " If this is the end of Life Ball, you truly couldn't write a better ending for the ceremony than the daughter of Camp icon Judy Garland singing her signature song that has stirred the hearts of so many who dream of a world where the colors are a little brighter, the people just a little bit nicer, and the world just a little more vivid.
Though this year, the famed "party plane," which shuttled American performers and guests from New York to Vienna and inevitably turned into a high-altitude nightclub, was called off, the American contingent trickled into Vienna Friday night in time for the official welcoming party at Le Méridien hotel.
Started in 1993 while HIV/AIDS was still considered a death sentence, founder Gery Keszler's charity event sought to break taboos and raise money for those affected with the disease by combining Vienna's uniquely democratic ball culture (hundreds of balls are held in the city each year, and aren't solely the province of the upper class) with the edge of New York's underground, LGBT-led nightlife.
Stumbling into an Austrian Uber at sometime around 5 a. m. may not have exactly been what Judy had in mind when she sung about the place over the rainbow, but that doesn't negate that the past 12 hours we spent both inside and out of the Viennese City Hall certainly felt like it, as it had for Life Ball attendees for the past 26 years.
RuPaul turned up in a video message to introduce a handful of girls from her show (including Alaska Thunderfuck, Shuga Cain, Scarlet Envy, and Yuhua Hamasaki) to walk down the carpet while Ru's song "Sissy That Walk" blared at approximately a billion decibels.