For the third year in a row, ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Robin Strasser (Dorian) has chaired one of New York’s most overdone and underground events, Night of a Thousand Gowns, on March 21. This year, after strutting and posturing for the hungry paparazzi, she graced the stage to showcase a few soap-themed auction items, took a dance break with drag queens and announced the eccentric names (e.g., Empress XXIII Anne Tique, The Golden Gotham Glamazon Empress of Grace and Gratitude) of the hundreds of Imperial Court members participating in the fete.
Why, you might ask, is a daytime veteran partying until the wee hours of the morning with a bunch of drag queens?
“I always have the most fun in fund-raising here at this event,” declares the actress, who was “knighted” by the court in 2007. “It’s a great group of people who walk their talk and raise a lot of money for great charities and organizations that serve, really, everybody in the community that benefits from the work that they do. If it wasn’t for that great group of people, I don’t stay up past 8 o’clock most nights!”
The Imperial Court of New York threw its 23rd annual charity ball and silent auction to benefit LIFEbeat — The Music Industry Fights AIDS and MCCNY Homeless Youth Services (Sylvia’s Place). Other honorary chairs included Sir Elton John, Patty Lupone and Joan Rivers, who appeared via video in a skit with Strasser and two Rivers look-alikes.
One of the prerequisites of attending, aside from the $300 ticket, is to dress up in the most outrageous, fun, glamorous gown you can find — and that goes for men, too. “They dress up and they look so gorgeous,” raves the actress. “And anybody who’s wondering 12 months out, even if they can afford to go to one of these events, I am just going to make the suggestion that this is one worth giving as a holiday present or a birthday present, because you and your friend will just be knocked out.” Tuxedos are welcome, too.The latest gala raised more than $275,000, thanks in part to the $3,000 winning bid on a piece of OLTL history: a 1980s oil portrait of Dorian Lord, which Strasser was generous enough to donate. “It was on my set for 15 years! When you would enter Dorian’s house, it was at the top of the stairs. It’s a little bit of a long story as to why it was taken down,” she recalls with a giggle. The painting was given to her when she left the show in 2000 and an unnamed “co-conspirator” stored it for her. “It was given to me by [then-Executive Producer] Jill Farren Phelps as a ‘Good-bye, don’t let the door hit you on the butt, baby!’ ” she laughs. When Strasser returned in 2003, thanks to some nudging from Executive Producer Frank Valentini, so did the painting. It stayed up a few more years, and, “Suddenly, one day the painting was off the wall and in my dressing room wrapped in bubble wrap. So, it just seemed like a great idea [to auction it].”
So where did the infamous portrait end up? In the hands of the giver herself. “I was more than happy to write the check,” Strasser beams.
For more information, visit www.icny.org.