After Dark and Della Licious Host 31st Annual AIDS Benefit
For more than 30 years, After Dark has raised money for AIDS research, first through donations to AMFAR then later to benefit the AIDS Task Force, now known as the Positive Resource Center, in Fort Wayne. For more than 20 of those years, Della Licious has been leading the charge putting her dazzling personality and charismatic performances – not to mention hard work and dedication – to the cause.
This year’s return of the event, disrupted last year by COVID restrictions, visits the stages of After Dark and Welch’s Ale House this Saturday, April 16 from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. In addition to the two simultaneous drag shows, the fundraiser will include a live auction and an online auction. The former used to be a much larger part of the process, but it’s one that is coming to an end.
“Thankfully this is the last live auction we’re going to do,” Della said. “The brunch brings in so much that this year we’re going to throw everything in and work the auctions hard. We have a list of people who have donated over the years and what places want to contribute. But we’ve found that it’s become a dry well. Friends who donate would just as soon send a check, or we have people bidding who are just looking for a bargain.”
Instead this year, and in the years ahead, the focus will be on the online auction where a variety of items (many donated by Della herself) provide a fun way to participate and donate while finding some unusual items. Additionally the online auction – which went live (aidsbenefit.cbo.io) on Monday, April 11 – allows for days worth of bidding while freeing up time on Saturday for what really matters. The drag show has become so popular that the monthly Della’s Brunch (also hosted at Welch’s) also brings in soldout crowds every second Sunday of the month.
“The drag show brings in thousands of dollars at the brunch every month,” Della said. “We’ve made more than $18,000 since September 2019 and that’s with a stoppage of six months during COVID. Saturday night we’ll have two stages going, one at After Dark and the other in the Tiger Room. There’ll be a DJ and different entertainment in each room. We’ll have 29 or 30 performers, and I’ll be doing five or six numbers while the others will do one or two.”
The money raised from the shows and the auctions will be donated directly to the Positive Resource Center, which has worked tirelessly to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in our area. In 30 years, the event has raised more than $1 million dollars for the fight against AIDS. Della’s longtime dedication to continuing this annual fundraiser, not to mention the monthly brunch she hosts, has made her one of the community’s most valued and beloved members.
“I just thank each and every entertainer for donating their time to raise the money,” she said. “Tula and Leo have been a shining beacon and an example of what it truly means to involved in your community. I do it because I see an existing possibility to end HIV and AIDS, to end the spread, and to end the stigma.”