VIENNA (AP) — Party-goers dressed in little more than body paint rubbed shoulders with men in tuxedoes and cross-dressers in wild costumes on Saturday, transforming Vienna's City Hall into a fantasy land. But in the end, Conchita Wurst stole the show.
The occasion, Europe's biggest charity event, was serious: raising money for AIDS research. But as in previous years, the 20th annual Life Ball was also an anything-goes gala with an emphasis on diversity.
Wurst, who won the recent Eurovision song contest, was the undisputed favorite.
Hoots of approval, applause and whistles greeted the bearded drag queen dressed in figure-hugging silver lame, as she belted out her winning torch song "Fly Like a Phoenix." Minutes later, formally clad VIP guests holding 750-euro ($1,000) tickets began streaming inside the neo-gothic hall for a night of noshing, dancing and champagne-filled revelry.
But there was plenty of big-name competition.
"I feel so poorly dressed," quipped a black-suited Bill Clinton, glancing down from the stage at the feather boas, fantastic head-dresses and exotic outfits among the 4,000 or so ball goers.
Clinton urged all attending not to forget what lies behind "all the joy of this evening: the determination of every person ... here to give every child a better chance."
Other well-knowns included Ricky Martin and "Desperate Housewife" Marcia Cross, who co-presented an award to SWAP, a Kenya-based charity working to provide clean water to AIDS victims.
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