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MAC’s Billion Dollar Ball celebrates 30 years of Viva Glam initiative and kicks off new fundraiser

MAC’s Billion Dollar Ball celebrates 30 years of Viva Glam initiative and kicks off new fundraiser

In today’s world of inclusivity and visibility, it can be hard to remember that not everyone was attuned to the plight facing the then-knownLGBTIQA+ community in 1994. AIDS and HIV were decimating a population that was largely ignored, especially by the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. MAC cosmetics, founded in Canada in 1984, was initially conceived for professional makeup artists. It was arguably the most popular makeup brand among fashion insiders and the gay community, many of whom worked as professional makeup artists or used in their performance roles when it launched.

Kim Petras and Danna Paolo - BFA

The founders, Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo decided to help this community that was part of its brand by introducing Viva Glam lipstick to raise funds for AIDS and HIV-related causes. The original red shade soon grew to many others, and, to date, Viva Glam lipstick sales have reached $525 million. On its 30th anniversary, the brand has launched four new shades that reflect the scope of charities MAC now supports to double that number. To kick off this next phase, the brand hosted the “Viva Glam Billion-Dollar Ball” on Wall Street in an old bank basement, complete with a massive vault for a glamourous nightclub-worthy evening that featured performances by two new Viva Glam ambassadors dance-pop diva Kim Petras and Mexican singer Danna Paolo, who consequently rang the opening bell at the NYSE across the street that morning.

The evening was introduced by model and influencer Alex Cosani, who stirred the crowd and welcomed MAC’s Global Senior Vice President and General Manager, Aida Moudachirou-Rébois. Taking guests to the history of the brand’s charity arm, Moudachirou-Rébois explained how 100 percent of the lipstick’s selling price was given back. “It was sent to our partner God’s Love We Deliver, homeless shelters and soup kitchens that welcomed this community with open arms and zero judgment,” she said to the room, explaining the name refers to life and their primary objective of beautifying.

She also reminded the audience of the iconic campaigns associated with the initiative. “We stand for bold and disruptive campaigns. In 1994, RuPaul, a black drag queen, was our first star when the industry was not ready for it, but now, we have broken many more records, thanks to this powerful mission,” she continued. While it’s still being officially verified, the Viva Glam fundraiser has raised more money than any other beauty brand for this charity type.

Moudachirou-Rébois introduced four lipsticks born from three original shades and a new shade, explaining the Viva Glam concept has expanded to address equality in four other areas: sexual equality, gender equality, racial equality, and environmental equality which with names such as Viva Heart, Viva Planet, Viva Equality, and Viva Empowered which harken back to the expanded initiative. Like the original, these lipsticks will donate 100 percent of the proceeds earned.

Mac Creative Director Drew Elliot furthered Moudachirou-Rébois remarks and said the campaign helped a ‘young kid from Indiana” believe in his ability to be anything he wanted.
“Shout out to Amanda Lepore, who said, ‘I love performing on big stages; it is much easier. That is what I love about Viva Glam; it’s the biggest stage in the world to create the biggest platform to help people around the world, whether men, women, or children, in relation to AIDS/HIV, racial or gender issues, and the planet. For this queer kid from Indiana, it’s the biggest honor to work with this brand,” he said. Currently, MAC works with 150 NGOs globally and serves 19 million people yearly.

In between speeches and acts, guests such as Serena Williams, Teyana Taylor, Lil’ Kim, Lourdes Leon, Winnie Harlow, JT, Amanda Lepore, and nightlife legend Susanne Bartsch explored a selfie-ready actual vault filled with fake money, perused both current and archival Viva Glam campaign and accouterment such as RuPaul’s original outfit that the pioneering “RuPaul’s Drag Race” show host wore, tried on (and pocketed) sample Viva Glam lipsticks set up on tables flanked by massive chandeliers that dotted the cavernous raw space. Partygoers fanned themselves with gigantic fans that spelled equality and love as the abandoned Wall Street bank-turned-party space quickly warmed up.

Petras took the stage with a witty remark that ‘what could be sluttier than raising over ½ a billion dollars? Are you ready to get glam? she said before launching into a charming rendition of three of her songs, including “I Don’t Want It At All,” a money-loving tune apropos for the location and the MAC’s latest initiative followed up by Danna Paulo’s dazzling performance. As guests left, they each received the four new lipstick shades and were encouraged to choose a favorite.

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