Friday, February 15, 2013

Mondo Magic at the Hotel Palomar on Valentine's Day

Last night I photographed Project Runway All Stars winner Mondo Guerra at a party held at the Hotel Palomar in Center City. It was a party where people dressed to impress this Valentine's Day.
In case your not familiar with Mondo, he was a contestant on the 10th season of Project Runway. During the season there's a custom print challenge. Contestants on the reality television show have pulled inspiration for their designs from childhood memories, relationships and pop culture, and the resulting patterns have been nostalgic, raw and abstract.
They are also extremely personal, as was evidenced on national TV during the 10th challenge of Season Eight in 2010. Armando Thomas “Mondo” Guerra courageously told the judges that his pattern – bright, bold plus signs – had been inspired by his HIV+ status, and that he had been keeping it a secret for nearly a decade. Even his closest friends and family were surprised. It was a pivotal moment for the young fashion designer, who went on to win ProjectRunway All-Stars two years later and has been designing limited edition t-shirts and merchandise to benefit HIV/AIDS organizations around the world as his company has grown.

The Project Runway alum designed a limited-edition t-shirt for 2013, which he unveiled at the party held in his honor. The shirt is available at the ActionAIDS website.
Michael Byrne, Treasurer  Director of Development ActionAIDS, Mondo and Kevin J. Burns, LCSW Executive Director of Action AIDS
 Dean Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at Subaru of America (r)

 Many fans of the show came out to show their support for Mondo
Elicia Gonzales, GALAEI executive director, Heshie Zinman and David Fischer
 Kevin J. Burns, LCSW Executive Director of Action AIDS and Donald Carter
 Josh Middleton, G Philly and Alan Graves
 Wayne Knaub and Rex Rotosch
Rex want's you to know about Fire and Ice's new Drag Brunch every third Sunday. Check out info

 Julie Schollenberg and Nigel Richards, 611 Lifestyle (Hubby of Nicole Cashman. Cashman & Associates represent Hotel Palomar and help to execute this party.)

Miss Summer Clearance and Miss Stormy Weathers

 Mondo addresses the crowd (as Kevin Burns looks on) and discusses how important getting the message out about HIV/AIDS awareness is, as well as finding a cure. He shared his personal story about coming out to the Project Runway judges and how on the day he did so, his beloved grandmother Betty, who had passed away a decade ago, was standing there with him in spirit.
 Afterwards there was a mini fashion show with the tees. He did a salt & pepper graphic, and the ladies wore spoons and forks. Check for photos of the ladies.
 They charitably had the models throw them into the adoring crowd.
 Larry Toft and Natasa Toft. I asked them what their favorite romantic song was on this Valentine Day and they said "Am I Blue"
 Malikah Upchurch ( and Derron Upchurch
  Denette Stetler and Denaire Paproth
 Congrats to Joann Leszczyhsky who won two of the big time raffle items last night, with her was equally excited for her Courtney Dunn and Rhona Goldfein, all of the AIDS Law Project. 
 Travis Breen,  Director of Sales and Marketing at Kimpton Hotels and Rachel McGowan, Area Group Rooms Coordinator at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

 Last year, more than 200 participating restaurants across the Delaware Valley raised more than a quarter of a million dollars. Locally, nearly 20,000 people areliving with HIV/AIDS, and the rate of new infections is about four times the national average. At the same time, government HIV/AIDS prevention funding has been drastically cut. Your support for this event will enable us to deliver life changing services, including "treatment as prevention" – a proven approach to creating the first AIDS-free generation.
Mondo and Matthew Vlahos, Vlahos PR
Vlahos PR is having their annual Oscar Party at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on 2/23/13

In 1991, an ActionAIDS volunteer turned to a group of Philadelphia restaurateurs to develop a new event to respond to the devastation the epidemic had on that close knit community. Through the generous participation of foodies, volunteers, corporate sponsors and the restaurants themselves Dining Out for Life quickly became a “must do” event in Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, ActionAIDS created a new non-profit, Dining Out for Life International, & sold the trademark to the group in order to allow other organizations dedicated to the fight against HIV AIDS to benefit from this great event. Today, DOFL is held in more than 60 cities in North America, includes 3,500 restaurants and raises nearly $4 million annually.

The monies raised stay in each respective community and are used to fund care, prevention, education,testing, counseling and other essential AIDS services. In addition to ActionAIDS, the monies raised help AIDS Delaware, Family and Community Service of Delaware County, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania (PPSEPA).

A complete list of participating restaurants will be available in mid-March. For more information in the meantime, call 1-877-EAT4LIF (1-877-328-4543) or go Sorry these are so late, I shot the event for the Hotel and had to prep the pics for them first. That means if your photo isn't on these pages, they could still show up in other media outlets.)