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An Evening With Women pulls in a hefty sum for LA's Gay & Lesbian Center

LOS ANGELES -- Last weekend, out singer/songwriter/producer Linda Perry put on a gala that whipped up almost half a million dollars for several important LA Gay & Lesbian Center programs.

Dubbed "An Evening With Women," the celebrity-drenched soiree was held at the Beverly Hilton and more than $445,000 was raised through ticket sales, pre-gala silent auctions and auctions during the event itself.

Perry's own Harley Davidson motorcycle was auctioned off during the evening, raking in $30,000 for the Center, and the winner promptly gave the motorcycle back to Perry. Another big ticket item was a tattoo to be given by attendee by Kat Von D, with comedian Wanda Sykes as the highest bidder.

The sold out event, now in its 5th year, consisted of a cocktail party, dinner, and a star-studded series of performances by some of today's most influential and talented women, all backed by Camp Freddy, a band consisting of established musicians that gather together for benefit appearances.

The Red Carpet element of the evening was packed with big name arrivals and unexpected events.

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News had both photo and media representation on that Red Carpet, so stay tuned for a run down (or "fun" down) of those two hours of non-stop celebrities in a future article, which will also include a complete slideshow of everyone who took the stroll for your viewing pleasure.

A night of gratitude

According to their own press release, Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean applauded President Obama in her remarks to the crowd, for his recent public support of same-sex marriage. She was also quick to criticize those associated with the anti-gay movement.

“Something has shifted in our nation that makes conservative political leaders—even right here in California—believe that they can turn back the clock on women’s rights and on LGBT rights,” Jean said that evening. “We’ve got to stand up and speak out and make it clear that we are not going to tolerate their attempts to marginalize us. We won’t let them take away our rights or limit our freedom. Not now. Not ever.

“I’m tired of people playing politics with our lives! We must do whatever we can to make them stop. As women. As LGBT people and as those who care about us,” she said.

Earlier in the evening, Jean -- stunning in a blue sparkly pant suit -- stepped onto the red carpet just long enough to get some shots with headliner Courtney Love.

Highlights of the evening's main event included the not-so-subtle comedy of Wanda Sykes, special performances by Kat Von D -- who made her singing debut with a haunting rendition of Bronski Beat's "Run Away," and Gina Gershon who belted out her own version of "Rebel Rebel."

Fan favorite Aimee Mann gave a soulful three-song set which included "Voices Carry," from her days with 80's MTV staple, Til Tuesday.

Perry not only hosted and co-produced the event but also performed a two-song set of classic Led Zeppelin songs. Courtney Love closed the show, offering the crowd not only a cover or two, but also selections from her band, Hole.

Perry recognized one of the premiere fundraising events is the GLAAD Media Awards, but she said her event is growing and catching up. However, Perry also admitted her event wasn't always this successful.

"It wasn't like this when we first started," she said. "I was on my knees begging [people to come]. Now it's turning into this cool event, and we all know when things get a little cool, everyone says, 'oh, I want to go check it out.' So today was fun because right now, my texts are filled with people still [asking] 'can I get a ticket still?'

"It's the hot ticket right now, and that's what you want, to be the hot ticket, and guess what? The hot ticket is an LGBT event."

Last year's An Evening With Women, headlined by Cyndi Lauper, Sarah Silverman and Chely Wright, among others, brought in $365,000 for the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, so no doubt that Perry, and Jean, were thrilled with this year's tally.

Funds raised go directly to the Center's vital services for LGBT women and girls, including senior services, homeless youth programs, and domestic violence, health and mental services programs.

Photos: Top left: Linda Perry and girlfriend Sara Gilbert; middle: lesbian icon Gina Gershon; bottom: Roseann Barr. All photos courtesy Cornelia Kurtew of kurtewphotography.com.