Broadway Bares benefit raising funds for HIV services, programs

On June 17, the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation presents Broadway Bares: San Francisco Strips III, a burlesque-styled comedy, music and strip show with a queer twist. Now in its third year, the event is a spin-off of fundraisers that originated in New York City to support Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS.

The benefits started more than 25 years ago as a strip show in which members of the Broadway community performed to raise funds for actors living with HIV.

Guests in the upcoming San Francisco edition include cabaret performer Leanne Borghesi and actor Jai Rodriguez, formerly of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.

"I have a long history with this show," said Rodriguez. "Broadway Bares has been in existence for several decades with dancers who were losing friends to AIDS. They decided to raise money by themselves."

Photo: Richmond Ermet Aid Foundation

Rodriguez cohosted the first San Francisco edition of Broadway Bares, held at Club Fugazi, home of Beach Blanket Babylon. The event proved so popular that organizers Ken Henderson and Joe Seiler moved it to SoMa's more expansive DNA Lounge.

"People who know me and know my family know that I lost my aunt and cousin to AIDS," he said. "That, and coupled with the fact that my first Broadway show was Rent, where I played an HIV positive character, profoundly affected me."

Because the disease disproportionately impacts members of the Latino and African American communities, "this encouraged me and put a fire under my butt to continue fundraising for treatments for those affected," he said.

Rodriguez said he hopes to raise a lot of money for the cause. "I get pretty competitive with it," he said. "If you donate $30 or more, I'll send you an autographed headshot out of my pocket."

Leanne Borghesi. | Photo: Richmond Ermet Aid Foundation

"I am thrilled to be part of this event," said Borghesi. "I have worked with Richmond Ermet for over fifteen years helping to bring quality entertainment to our San Francisco community while raising much needed funds for those in need."

In addition to performing alongside Rodriguez, Borghesi will share the stage with Cassandra Cass.

"It is going to be a high energy, sweaty, classy Broadway night out with cocktails, stripping, amazing dancing and entertainment," she said. "This night of entertainment will be electrifyingly sexy and stimulating. Expect good clean fun and a lot of bang for your buck!"

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