From “Livin’ on a Prayer” to “The Living Proof,” every song Friday at NBC’s benefit concert for superstorm Sandy victims became a message song. New Jersey’s Jon Bon Jovi gave extra meaning to “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Billy Joel worked in a reference to Staten Island, the decimated New York City borough.
The hourlong event, hosted by Matt Lauer, was heavy on stars and lyrics identified with New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area, which took the brunt of this week’s deadly storm. The telethon was a mix of music, storm footage and calls for donations from Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg and others.The mood was somber but hopeful, from Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and a tearful Mary J. Blige’s “The Living Proof,” her ballad of resilience with the timely declaration that “the worst is over/I can start living now.” Joel rocked out with “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),” a song born from crisis, New York City’s near bankruptcy in the 1970s, while Jimmy Fallon endured a faulty microphone and gamely led an all-star performance of the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” that featured Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Tyler.
The Aerosmith frontman then sat behind a piano and gave his all on a strained but deeply emotional “Dream On.” Sting was equally passionate during an acoustic, muscular version of The Police hit “Message In a Bottle” and its promise to “send an SOS to the world.” The show ended, as it only could, with Springsteen and the E Street Band, tearing into “Land Of Hope and Dreams.” “God bless New York,” Springsteen, New Jersey’s ageless native son, said in conclusion. “God bless the Jersey shore.”The stable of NBC Universal networks, including USA, CNBC, MSNBC, E! Entertainment, The Weather Channel and Bravo, aired the concert live from the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, several blocks north of where the city went days without power.
Millions of people for whom the benefit was organized couldn’t watch the event because they had no electricity. NBC Universal invited other networks to televise the event, but not everyone signed on. That might have something to do with network rivalries. In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the networks organized a benefit together behind the scenes and it was televised on more than 30 networks simultaneously, including all the big broadcasters.
The usual free popcorn and soft drinks were not the main draw to the Night Owl Cafe Thursday, Oct. 25 as professional drag queens, a DJ, flashing lights and people dressed in costumes set the stage for the Drag Queen Halloween dance.
The dance, hosted by Keene State College Pride, included DJ Ed Whitehouse from A Good Time DJs and Lady Sabrina and her entourage from Worcester, Mass. The NOC transformed into a party atmosphere with free candy and festive Halloween decorations.
There was plenty of music to dance to, whether it was a remix of “Rolling in the Deep” or “Teach me How to Dougie,” setting the atmosphere for the event.
This is the second time KSC Pride has hosted a drag queen Halloween dance. On the poster informing students of the dance they were advised to come in costume or dress in drag.
Seneca Eldredge, KSC senior and a member of KSC Pride dressed as Luigi. He said about the event, “We’re really here to have fun— it’s Halloween and we like to dress up. Drag queens are always a good time, it’s a lot of fun.” Eldredge continued, “Drag queens, they put on a costume it’s a character the event put on and I know one of the lead ones personally, he’s a completely different person than his character Lady Sabrina. It’s really nice to be able to have a show like this at a college.”
KSC senior and Pride Public Relations Coordinator, Robin Harris, expressed that she hoped to see people embracing anything that made them feel good.
Eldridge said, “It’s a Drag Queen Halloween so it’s an all-out Halloween celebration the idea is you can dress in drag, you can dress in a costume you can come in just whatever makes you feel fabulous and everyone’s equal. Come in whatever you feel most comfortable in and have a good time we’re not going to discriminate.”
KSC Pride President, Avi Bacchiocchi agreed that the dance was for people to have fun. The president stated two messages she hoped would reach those in attendance. “Two messages—one of them is just to have fun obviously another one its for a lot of our members because they couldn’t go to high school dances and have a good time in high school because they were made fun of, or they might of been bullied, they just couldn’t be themselves so this is kind of for them to finally be themselves at a school dance.”
Bacchiocchi continued, “We’re just trying to make their experience here as best as we can and it’s not just for our members, but for everyone.” She also said that the main goal of the evening was for everyone to have fun.
Julia Rasku, senior and vice-president of KSC Pride who dressed up as a “True Blood” vampire, said this is the second time there have been drag queens at the dance, but that KSC Pride hosts a fall dance every year.
While the costumes were eye-grabbing and the music was attention stealing, there was no denying Lady Sabrina was the main event of the evening.
Party-goers watched as Lady Sabrina and her fellow drag queens danced and entertained the crowd. Sabrina welcomed the crowd and said, “How we doin’ b******?” The crowd cheered back, and the show began.
Rasku said that Sabrina and her crew have a theme based on the “Rocky Horror” show that they perform during Halloween. Rasku said, “They did a few ‘Rocky Horror’ numbers,” and commented the audience loved the performance, and that a lot of people were tipping the drag queens like they’re supposed to. She said, “It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of energy.” Rasku also said her favorite part of the night was the drag queens, “the banter of the drag queens is always a fun experience, everyone gets a kick out of it.” Rasku said she thinks the night was a success, “I thought a lot of people came and everyone enjoyed it and while the drag queens were a little late people enjoyed it and that’s what counts. According to members of KSC Pride, even though Lady Sabrina was the main headliner for the dance the overall theme of was to have a good time, and feel comfortable being yourself.
Rasku said, “Pride is awesome and you don’t have to be gay to come to Pride and we meet Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in the Madison Street Lounge.”
Morgan Markley can be contacted at