Congratulations to sometime Mercury freelancer Stephen Marc Beaudoin for organizing last night's benefit for Haiti, which is likely to have raised $180,000 for MercyCorps. The high number is in large part due to a matching donation agreement by the Ray Hickey Foundation, and a $23,000 donation from American Steel's Howard Hedinger. It's a remarkable achievement and I already feel vindicated in calling Beaudoin a "person to watch" this year in last week's Street Roots, as a result. I'm also proud of the Mercury's co-sponsorship of the evening.
"But it's really important to really really recognize the Ray Hickey foundation," says Beaudoin. "What they did and what Linda Hickey did is unbelievable."
You can read a rather kiss-assy, back-patty round up of the evening at the Oregonian, so I'll spare you the meat and potatoes. But I did want to share a few delightful moments that weren't covered over there—mainly because I feel sure that Beaudoin would almost certainly have done so in his own days as a scratchy arts critic, before stepping into the big time.
Firstly, the Oregonian's Margie Boule: She spent most of the evening scrapping for microphone time with KOIN weatherman Tim Joyce, insisted on showcasing her "bling" to the audience—some incredibly expensive-looking bracelets and what looked like a ruby choker that could probably have tripled the evening's take, if she'd donated it—then described the developmentally disabled adults from the PHAME academy choir as "like the Special Olympics of the performing arts." Claaaaang. All this was topped by Boule's cattish looks in Storm Large's direction—at one point she bared all her teeth in a smile so insincere I thought I might get sunburn if she'd turned it on the audience.
"I love that Margie and Tim were doing this together," says Beaudoin. "Because Margie is kinda hammy and she's delightful, and she's been around forever, and I mean that in the best way, and Tim's young and inexperienced, and I thought the combination of the two of them working together was delightful."
A 10-piece choir led by Janice Scroggins, featuring vocalist Linda Hornbuckle, was absolutely incredible and should have headlined the night. Watching the crowd clap, scream, yell and go crazy for the music made me think we Portlanders all need to cut loose with the gospel a little more often.
Storm Large, herself, was ridiculous. But then, she always is. Given top-billing—which I guess she demanded in place of a fee—her melodramatic and scratchy rendition of "Axis Bold As Love" was only topped in the cheese stakes by her part in the concluding rendition of "Amazing Grace"—the same song she sang on her knees to the mayoral recall protesters outside city hall last year. Irony of ironies, I don't think Large may have seen Beaudoin's production last year of The Beggar's Opera. In it, a pop star character named "Lucy Lockett" was shamelessly drawn to any hint of controversy or civic distress as an opportunity to promote and enrich herself.
"I'd never met Storm until last night, and I feel like I'm coming away with a very different impression of her now than I had," says Beaudoin—who admits that the character of Lockett was based partly on Large.
Lucy Lockett's character was the daughter of Officer Randy Lockett—a character based, loosely, again, says Beaudoin, on City Commissioner Randy Leonard. "But just as the Randy Lockett character wasn't entirely based on Randy Leonard, neither was Lucy Lockett entirely based on Storm Large," he continues. "It was also sending up an archetype of the self-absorbed pop star, and I think Storm showed last night that she's anything but a self-absorbed pop star."
Perhaps. Although I was surprised at the conspicuous absence from last night's proceedings of Storm-chronicler extraordinaire, Byron Beck. Rumor is, he can't stand Beaudoin, and perhaps, like me, Beck is jealous of all the exposure Beaudoin has been getting over the benefit. But you'd think he could suck it up for charity, at the very least. Still, there's no mention of the benefit on his blog this morning.
"I have so much love for our city this morning. SO much love," says Beaudoin.
I think the best part of the evening was watching the old couple in front of me, who had actually bought along their books to read, before things got started, jumping around and throwing gangster signs while "Terrance 'Cool Nutz' Scott," as he was introduced by Boule—she just couldn't wrap her mouth around the straight-up "Cool Nutz," it seemed—rhymed repeatedly about "putting the funk in the slot."
Beaudoin says the initial goal for the evening was to raise $25,000. I'll donate another $30 this afternoon if he can bring himself to speak to me again after reading this.
Update, 1:36 Beaudoin called. I donated another $30. Although I think the less written about our conversation for the time being, the better.
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