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VIDEO: Local woman to give back to her beloved gays with "Hot Mess" event at Rich's, to benefit AVRC

SAN DIEGO – Hillcrest is going to be a hot mess on Friday night if everything goes as planned.

To celebrate her birthday, El Cajon resident and friend of the LGBT community Cali Griebel will be throwing a huge bash at Rich’s nightclub to raise funds for UCSD’s HIV programs.

The event, which will be called “Hot Mess,” will be a celebration of everything tacky, gaudy, over the top, experimental, and neon about 1980’s fashion.

“I think everyone looked like a ‘hot mess’ back then … and they didn’t need to drink to look that way,” said Griebel, who noted that her friends will often call each other ‘hot messes’ when recapping the previous night's festivities and shenanigans.

Griebel said the theme for the night was actually coined by Rich’s own DJ Nikno, who says the festivities will be more about looking like a ‘hot mess’ from the 80’s, rather than an 80’s music night. The evening will include a wide-range of dance hits and great music that everyone has come to expect when partying at Rich’s.

A burgeoning activist

Griebel, who has become a beloved figure in the LGBT community in the short time that she has been a part of it, is excited about her newfound passion as activist. She recently participated in the planning of the San Diego Remembers Matthew Shepard Rally & Vigil and was inspired to do more.

“I am an activist for those who need a voice,” said Griebel, who noted that her focuses have been on the rights of women, animals, the environment, and LGBT people.

Griebel, who has owned and managed an internet company for 11-years, also works as a professional photographer, recently went back to college to earn another degree, is the mother of two-year old, and a wife of 10-years.

“Being a new mom is a lot of work and a huge change in my independence and free-time,” said Griebel who enjoys hanging out with her gay friends in the evening hours, once her family has settled into bed.

“I needed to take time out from the stress to relax, have fun, and laugh more than ever, so I started going out in Hillcrest with my gay best friends, after I put my son to bed.”

“While my baby and husband are asleep, I spend time with my friends to avoid cutting into family time,” said Griebel, stressing how important her family is to her.

She decided it was time to give back to the LGBT community which has given so much to her.

“Sure, I like my straight guy friends, but I love my gay guy friends much more because they are so interesting, fun, more open-minded, beautiful, and I laugh a lot with them,” said Griebel, who thinks the Hillcrest scene is absolutely great.

“I just love how everyone is free to express who they are – the drag queens are so creative and artistic, there is always an event every day of the week, the dance music is always the best, and the conversations are always so lively," she said enthusiastically. “I also love how networked everyone is – I can shake someone’s hand that I have never seen or met and we end up having 80 friends in common on Facebook. I love that!”

Choosing a benefactor was easy

Griebel, who feels completely welcomed in the community, is often seen taking photographs at various nightlife events capturing memories for the many people that she loves in the community. When it was time to start thinking about her community, Griebel knew that she wanted to host a fundraiser to give back.

She selected UCSD’s Antiviral Research Center (AVRC) because she believes they are making a huge impact in finding a cure for HIV globally while treating patients locally.

“They conduct a wide range of HIV studies to discover new treatments, test current HIV medications, as well as treat patients in all stages of the disease,” explained Griebel.

“They also offer confidential HIV testing at no cost, as well as community outreach to help promote safe sex practices, and also provide accurate HIV education.”

When asked how HIV/AIDS has impacted her life, it was clear that the question was very emotional for her.

“In college, I learned about the devastation of HIV in Sub-Sahara Africa which has more than 25-million people living with HIV – 67% of the world’s HIV infections,” she recalled, noting how overwhelming the epidemic still is and how helpless she feels being able to do anything about it.

“The first time I found out one of my close friends had HIV, I was devastated, and I cried. I felt so helpless and wanted to do something. Now, I know many people with HIV – people that I deeply care for and it hurts every time I get the news.”

Griebel realizes that with proper treatment, most of her friends living with HIV are unlikely to die of the disease, but also recognizes the stigma associated with it.

“With HIV comes new precautions, feeling awkward telling sexual partners, and lifelong treatment,” she said. “There is still an ignorance that ‘it won’t happen to me’ which leads to careless behavior. As an ally to the community, I want to help. Fundraising at a nightclub reaches the age group that is most at risk of being impacted by HIV.”

Griebel is excited that "Hot Mess" will be one of her contributions to help the AVRC and she hopes everyone will come out for a fun night that will directly benefit such a great cause.

Whip up your costumes and prepare for a crazy fun time

She wanted to remind everyone that they still have a few more days to put their best mess costume together.

“We are encouraging everyone to wear an 80’s inspired outfit because we are having a fashion show contest at midnight and will also be doing a photo booth. Really, just wear anything that looks like a Hot Mess – for some that may just be their regular street clothes,” she joked.

Griebel, who has been coordinating and planning most of the event on her own, is thankful for the outpouring of community support for her first fundraiser.

“I’m so grateful to Rich’s for hosting the event – they have been supportive of the community for so long. Also, Tammy Soto has been an incredible help in acquiring sponsors for the raffle,” she said. “I am most grateful to all the business who have graciously donated items for the raffle drawing –this has touched me the most.”

Finally, Griebel wants to thank all of the friends who have welcomed her to the community with open arms.
“I want to celebrate that this Friday, while doing something for this community that I love so much,” said Griebel.

"Hot Mess" will take place at Rich’s Nightclub, 1051 University Avenue, this Friday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. For more information, check the SDGLN events calendar