The Real Deal - Reality Cares - Reality TV Stars at a Chicago AIDS Benefit

NOTE :: This story is from LGT2.com I am migrating some of the fixed stories over to the LimeANALog as part of a web site overhaul that will take place sometime this year ;)


If you haven't already noticed, Matthew and I enjoy our reality TV shows! In moderation, we really get hooked with shows, such as Survivor, Big Brother and even American Idol (if that is in the same category). However, we don't watch every single reality program that is available and according to this summer's television schedule lineup, that is all there will be to see on television this summer. Now, I do feel that this is somewhat sad, speaking out of other passions for classic comedies, such as, I Love Lucy, Golden Girls and Keeping Up Appearances. Too much reality television will soon cause burn out.

That being said, a couple of week's ago, I was listening to a local radio program that airs here in Chicago on Sunday nights at 11pm, Windy City Times Radio, which is an hour long, gay talk/news type show. While I was listening to the show I was made aware of a benefit event for the Chicago AIDS Foundation called "The Real Deal" sponsored by The Reality Cares Foundation. To my surprise and delight of this announcement was going to be the appearance of not just one of our favorite gay reality stars, but many of them... all in one room! Matthew's birthday was right around the corner and instead of getting him the normal gift of DVDs and more DVDs, this would be the perfect present for the both of us.

Initially, the event was scheduled at the Park West Theatre, the same place where I saw Bea Arthur here in Chicago a few years back. I was going to get the VIP tickets, which included a special reception after the presentation with the stars for a $100 a ticket. However, when I went to purchase the tickets the next day, the option was gone. Come to find out about a week later, they changed venues to The Sound Bar. They also lowered the price of the ticket to a mere $40 as general admission. This was good financially, but we then lost the promise to meet the stars we wanted to meet.

Two weeks later, we stood at the front door red carpet of the Sound Bar waiting for it to open. While waiting and watching people walk by, Matthew spits out, "There's Marcellas" and as soon as I can look up, there he was, looking right back at us from apparently hearing Matthew, casually saying "Hi boys, how are you?" As usual, when meeting someone that you have watched religiously on television, it was like seeing an old friend and the mystery of meeting that person vanishes immediately, soon to be replaced by the warmth of being reunited with a familiar face.

When we entered, we decided to buy tickets to a raffle they were having. Proceeds went to the same cause of the Chicago AIDS Foundation, so it felt like a win win situation. This was the first time that I have been to the Sound Bar, being that it just opened, so I gave myself a tour. The bar is more like a NYC bar, with 110% attention to design and style. The only problem we had at the beginning was which of the two unlabeled restrooms was the men's. We soon found out thanks to the process of elimination.

After about and hour of watching boys butts and guzzling the open bar Grey Goose Vodka and Cranberries from posh booths, the show started. We scooted down to the main floor as my favorite Chicago news personality, Tamron Hall, made her way up and started to introduce the reality stars. As I snapped photos ever other second, she introduced and then chatted with the sexy Chris Beckman, Tonya Cooley and Aneesa Ferreira from Real World Chicago. Following was the egomaniac, first winner of Survivor, Richard Hatch and then our new/old friend Marcellas Reynolds of Big Brother 3. Finally, Reichen Lehmkuhl, the now single and available, winner of Amazing Race 4.

After everyone gave there little introductions and took questions and answers from the audience (which I might add, were non-intriguing questions). The stars made their way down to where we were all standing. We snatched Marcellas from the crowd to give formal introductions and praises of him on the show and all that fluff. We ended up chatting with Marcellas for quiet a while about different things, such as, his recommendation on the interview process of Big Brother and how he watches his DVD of himself late a nights to self reflect. As we talked, one of the guys that headed the event kept telling Marcellas to quiet down, being that they were then talking about the real cause of the event, AIDS. Marcellas kept talking. He was as sweet as we thought he would be and we really felt that he was well grounded and didn't have his head in the clouds as most stars do.

Soon after, I made my way over to meet Tamron Hall. She is the host of the Fox morning news show here in Chicago. I wanted to meet her last year at the Equality Illinois Gala, however missed my opportunity. So, I was delighted to finally get to meet and talk with her explaining just that! She was just as warm to talk with as Marcellas.

Now that we were on a roll, Richard Hatch was in a corner talking with a few guys, so we pinged him as being the next to meet. Once we got his attention, we soon realized that he, in fact, does have his head in the clouds. He acted if he didn't really want to be there and that he wasn't getting enough attention. Though I can't say that for sure, that was the vibe he was giving off. So, usually, I would make small talk, however I soon lost all interest and simply asked for a photo with him, then turned away and left. This didn't bother me however, being that he only lived up what he is known for, so my expectations were not that high to begin with.

Now, I was basically left with the goal to meet Chris Beckman, who I've had a crush on ever since Real World Chicago aired for the first time a few years ago. He lives in Boston and is an independent artist, so right there is an immediate attraction in itself! However, everyone also loved him and was constantly swamped him. Matthew and I decided to go into the red room where it was more laid back and grab another drink. I kept my eye on Chris the whole time, but always respecting his time and space. Meanwhile, Reichen was standing just a person away from where we were. After waiting for these two girls flirting their asses off with Reichen (who probably didn't realize that he was even gay) we grabbed him. Unfortunately, I didn't watch the fourth season of Amazing Race that he was on, but we still wanted to meet him. Why not, he was gorgeous! After we met him and got our photos taken with him he turned to me and asked if he had anything stuck in his teeth. I squinted my eyes and in disgust I said "NO". I said that in disgust, because his teeth were nothing less of perfect. Sanded down and whitened to perfection. My teeth would be that way too if I just won the Amazing Race too! Of course, maybe he wanted a kiss and I passed up the moment. Well, I doubt that!

After waiting a few moments longer, we got up off our stools and headed for Chris. I felt time was soon running out, so better get on the move before it was too late. We ended up following him around the bar, missing opportunities time after time to speak with him. I soon realized that he was making his way up to the stage area (well, where the DJ spins) to announce the raffle winners. As he pulled the tickets out of the bucket, people made their way up to fetch their prizes. I didn't think much of this, being that I never win anything, so I continued to snap away on my camera. As he pulled the last winning ticket to the last huge ass bottle of Grey Goose Vodka, Chris called my number. Stunned, I dropped my camera and headed up to grab my vodka! Aneesa handed me my vodka, and all I saw were smiling faces down at me (I don't like that much attention, so it freaked me out a bit). However, Aneesa wouldn't let go of the bottle, which through me off. It had it's own stand, so I wasn't sure if I were to take that as well or not. Come to find out she was just wanted to keep the bottle for herself, understandably so. After the bottles of alcoholism were raffled off, Chris Beckman then raffled off two copies of his own artwork. I was hoping Matthew's number would come up for one of those, but it did not. That was fine, for I had my what seemed to be endless supply of vodka in my hands.

At this time, I still had not met Chris and time was definitely was running out. So, as he was trying to make his way out, I caught his eye and waived to him like we knew each other, (you know, the lowered hand by the waste and twinkling of the fingers). That worked, because he came right over to me like I too, was a old friend. Come to find out, he thought we had met before. Unfortunately, I had to say that we hadn't and then praised him on his artwork. I was all giddy because he didn't let go of my hand the whole time. After getting our picture taken and chatting for that brief moment, he soon disappeared. So, I was extremely happy to have met him when I did, for that would have been the last window of opportunity.

Feeling completed and a sense of mission accomplished of meeting everyone we wanted to, we grabbed one more drink and lounged out on a booth in the red room. As people were clearing out and just about to call it a night, Marcellas passed by again and we ended up talking to him some more. He told us that he would be in Chicago more often now and then let us know a couple of the bars that he frequents at. Fortunately, they are the same bars that we frequent, so we are prone to meet up with him again. I gave him a kiss on the cheek goodbye and Matthew and I were fulfilled and buzzed with the night's events and drinks. When we finally left, I was cradling the huge ass bottle of vodka like a baby out the door wondering how many times I would be mugged on the train. Luckily, they gave me a black bag to put over the beast for the trip back home!

Though we were no longer offered the VIP ticket option, we still managed to meet everyone that we wanted to meet that night. Luckily the place wasn't that full and there was plenty of elbow room to make meeting people that much easier and more comfortable. Everything worked out perfect to plan! I did feel bad that I didn't make any effort to meet the female reality stars, but my priorities had to come first! If there was more time, I would have liked to meet Tonya, who looked amazingly beautiful, just as Tamron Hall did. Aneesa, at many times, sat in a booth in the red room and was on her cell phone the whole night, this was not the most exciting way for me to be motivated to talk to her unfortunately. I haven't watched Road Rules in years, so I didn't know Sophia at all, but she seemed like a sweet girly girl.

Great night, great people, great drinks and more drinks to go home with. Can't ask for much more then that! Plus, I met four people that I had on my list to meet all in one night, under one roof. Now that is optimizing my time! (not that my time is all important!)

Until next time!


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