If one dissects the ever-increasing alphabet soup that describes the various factions of the LGBTQIAJ community, one would find that the A stands for Ally. Allies are wonderful, because allies are who stand beside you, fighting a fight that is not necessarily their own. But some people go further, and these people I refer to as Champions, because (to my way of thinking) a Champion is an individual who will fight for you, even when – and sometimes because – you are unable to fight for yourself. And when it comes to matters of inclusion, equality, and the ongoing fight against AIDS; that’s precisely who Sharon Stone is.
I first met the preternaturally glamorous Stone, in Las Vegas, at Keep Memory Alive’s annual Power of Love™ gala in 2015, honoring Veronica and Andrea Bocelli. I was introduced to Stone by the charming Greg Calejo, who knew Stone from his days working for Sol Kerzner, alongside her dear friend, Jerry Inzerillo (who’s now helming the Forbes Travel Guide).
Fast forward to this spring, and we were introduced, once more, at an intimate reception for STORIES: The AIDS Monument, at which Stone spoke passionately – both about the ways in which AIDS had affected her life, and about the continued need for education and awareness about the disease. I was given a brief audience with her, before she spoke; and I was delighted to find her to be warm, funny, witty, and particularly “real,” (as well as the proud full-time mother of three adopted boys – ages 11, 12, and 17 – which, after speaking with her, is what I’d guess she’d list as her occupation, were she ever required to so do).
Later, after she spoke, I noticed that they’d made nametags for everyone, including one for Sharon Stone. So, I took it, put it on, and walked-up to her. Upon telling Stone how funny I thought it was that they’d made her a nametag (as if, among 30 or so middle-aged gay men gathered for an AIDS-related charity, in LA, anyone wouldn’t know who she was); she deftly returned my serve by drily telling me that she thought it was pretty funny that I was wearing said nametag. (I’ve still got it, btw…)
I learned quite a bit about Stone, that night; but what was imprinted most indelibly upon me was that – since taking the mantle passed by the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Stone had been responsible for raising upwards of $750 million in the quest to research, battle, and eradicate AIDS. That’s a lotta cheddar, and way more than would come from just lending one’s name to the occasional event. It’s a calling. And, as mentioned earlier, it’s what makes one a champion. Needless to say, if I hadn’t already been so taken with Ms. Stone, I would’ve become pretty taken with Ms. Stone.
Anyhow, in LA once again, attending another reception to raise awareness for STORIES: The AIDS Monument – this time at the lovely Beverly Hills manse of CAA’s managing partner, Kevin Huvane – I was asked by John Gile if there was anyone I’d like to meet, or with whom I’d like my photo taken; to which I immediately said “Well, I sure wouldn’t say ‘No’ to another moment with that marvelous Sharon Stone!”
Now, you’ve gotta understand, that when I said this, Stone was surrounded by a gaggle of gays; so I suggested that (instead of causing a ruckus by having an impromptu photo-shoot with the woman of the hour) we have our moment inside, in the privacy of Huvane’s gracious parlor. Well, no sooner had I gone inside, than Gile appeared with Stone, who hugged me hello again (we’d greeted each other briefly, upon her entrance to the reception), and asked me “Why don’t we sit down, and talk, like real people in real life?” Let’s just say that I did NOT need to be asked twice.
Left to our own devices, Stone inquired about my life in Las Vegas, which then led into some great stories from her time here, in the early ‘90s, when she was shooting the Martin Scorsese film, Casino, in which she played a fictionalized version of Geri McGee, the wife of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal (portrayed by Robert DeNiro) – a role that earned her not just the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, but also a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. “Nobody ever looked better, dying in the hallway of a seedy motel, Sharon Stone!” We gabbed about the costumes (“That was Rita Ryack,” she told me, referring to the film’s costume designer. “It was so much fun; like playing dress-up!), and the styling (“One day I had 17 different wig-changes!”), and about some of her favorite Vegas haunts (Piero’s!). Meanwhile, I filled her in on a little-known bit of trivia surrounding the now-iconic jewels given by DeNiro’s character to Stone’s, in the film; versus those given by the real-life Rosenthal to McGee.
This led to a story about one of her sons (her three boys are this mom’s favorite topic, which is pretty cool); before we concluded by discussing one of the most talked-about Vegas-things going, these days – next month’s bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor, at the T-Mobile Arena.
Anyhoo – before I knew it, Gile had returned to gather Stone, as the evening’s event was about to start, and we (mostly Stone, but I’ll include myself, for the sake of my fragile ego) had to get back to the assembled guests. Upon rejoining my friends, they pointed out that I’d been MIA for nearly a half-hour; but all was forgiven when I explained where I’d been, and with whom.
Then, it was time to make the doughnuts, and raise some awareness of and monies for STORIES: The AIDS Monument; so, if you haven’t already read about the event in one of my previous articles, you can do so, now, by clicking on the links below.
STORIES: The AIDS Monument
Click HERE for info
Get into it!
[Editor’s Note: Now, I’m just planting seeds, here, but should Dana White, anyone named Fertitta, Jim Murren, Bobby Baldwin, Richard Sturm, anyone in the Mayweather camp, or someone at Showtime be reading this, please gimme a jingle; because I know a particular lady who is very interested in getting her hands on a pair of tickets.]