There Was Magic
I’ve been working on this film for several months already. I already filmed several interviews, and started devouring the tons and tons of archival prints, footage, photos, film, tapes, and everything else, that exist for this documentary. How did it all start?
I read a book a while back called “Heavenly Bodies: Remembering Hollywood & Fashion’s Favorite AIDS Benefit”. It’s written by Michael Anketell. I loved the story. It’s so simple, but it’s so full of emotion. It’s the story of how a small group of volunteers decided in the 80s to get together and throw a fashion event to try and raise money to help their friends, loved ones and everyone else around them who was suffering from the AIDS virus. And they did this for the next ten years as the events quickly grew to become the most successful and biggest Fashion benefit events in the US. They raised millions of dollars to help people living with AIDS and through that most humbling act of helping each other, they also raised awareness for a disease that was devastating the LGBT communities in the 80s. And, unfortunately, it still does to this day.
I grew up in the 80s. I remember every day going to school hearing about this AIDS virus… the disease that affected gay people only. Even then, as a very young kid, this touched me like nothing else. Just getting back home and hearing the news reports on the epidemic, the deaths, the struggles, the discrimination, it was all very intense to say the least. By 1987, the year the first Fashion event occured, I was just about to turn 8. And I had no doubts in my mind that I was gay. Unfortunately, I was already being bullied at school for being gay, even though I hadn't really come out. And as the AIDS epidemic grew bigger, so did my bullying. All of a sudden, I was not only hearing every day of my life as a young kid all kinds of horrible things, name calling, shoved around, kicked, and worse, I was also hearing that I would certainly be dead anytime soon. "Because you probably already have AIDS". I was 8. The AIDS epidemic, even while not affecting me directly, had changed me for the rest of my life.
I have always been fascinated by how people can come together for the greater good of things. When I read the book, I immediately connected with the story. How two of my biggest passions as a kid, Hollywood and Fashion, came together to give their full support to all their friends that were dying of AIDS. Many of them would also succumb to the disease later on… but they still got together, one night a year, to celebrate life, celebrate Hollywood, celebrate Fashion and create one of the most magical nights for everyone involved and for those fighting the virus every day of their lives.
This is the story that I fell in love with. And this is what There Was Magic is about. It’s already been a labour of love and I can’t wait to bring this little film to life and share it with you.
The HIV/AIDS virus still to this day affects millions and millions of people. There is no cure. I have known and loved many people who live, or have lived, with the virus. Part of the proceeds from the film will go to an AIDS organization to be announced soon. And I hope, that this little film, will help inspire, smile, laugh and entertain, many of you who know what is like to lose someone you love.
Whatever happens, I will be forever grateful for this.
- Afonso Salcedo