Kings and drag queens mingled with designers, performers and commoners last May
at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito, CA, the setting for the Pacific Pride Foundation's Royal Ball benefit. Guests came from as far as New York to enjoy the evening and support the the foundation, which provides low-cost or free services to the LGBT community in Santa Barbara County.
More than 400 people attended the gala, from teens to octogenarians, lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual and transgender.
Produced by Merryl Brown of Merryl Brown Events and David Merrell of AOO Events, the event was campy yet sophisticated, with strolling drag queens, performers from Cirque du Soleil, a flamenco dancer and musicians. Luxe lounges graced the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club and spilled over onto the ocean-front terrace, where guests were able to bid on silent auction items such as dinner at a private estate with chef Cat Cora from Iron Chef. In a fun twist on auction tables, several drag queens circulated through the crowd wearing round tables with the auction items displayed.
In another creative take on a traditional idea, sponsors were able to purchase one of seven individual booths for their lounging pleasure throughout the evening. Each of the booths was created by a different West Coast designer, who brought in furniture, floral, fabric and other elements to create a showcase of design and diversity. As an added touch, each booth came with a personal butler, to tend to all the VIP needs and wishes.
"This event was a perfect combination of inclusiveness, campy fun and sophistication for such an influential straight, gay and lesbian group of attendees and patrons," says Merrell. "The best part is I got to do it with my close friend Merryl Brown and a lot of amazing events professionals. I'm very proud of the buzz that it has created in community for Pacific Pride Foundation."