It was 1992 when Jerry Mitchell, the famous choreographer and director of Broadway, felt that something needed to be done to help the HIV epidemic that plagued New York City. It was then that Broadway Bars, the Broadway strip show, appeared.
The first edition was small. Jerry joined six friends and had a sexy show at Splash, Chelsea’s gay bar. But the success was already huge with the unique presentation having to become two nights the demand of the public. The following editions became bigger each year, with a grand Broadway strip show with a burlesque overproduction. Altogether Broadway Bars raised $ 21.2 million.
The success for the event to keep growing every year is the sex appeal, according to Jerry himself, in an interview with Advocate Magazine, he analyzes: “Obviously, sex sells”. According to him, even with the best of intentions, some philanthropic events usually lose importance over time. “The actors use the body, they use talent to make a difference, which is what I did in the first one”.
But in particular, 2020 was a challenge. Not only for having to take Broadway Bars for an online version (check out the event in full at the end of the story), with images from previous years mixed with exclusive performances recorded at this year’s participants’ homes, but also for the challenge that everyone is going through with the closure of Broadway theaters due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
This directly impacts even the collections for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. In addition to the annual Broadway strip show, donations are encouraged at the end of each Broadway show. “That’s why, somehow, it was so important to make Broadway Bars this year,” says Jerry.
Jerry’s only active job is preparing for Kinky Boots in South Korea. “They controlled the virus very quickly and had great leadership and now they can go to the theater,” comments Mitchell. In the sequence he makes an important score: “We could have taken another path (in response to the Covid-19 pandemic), and this is really what bothers me and irritates me the most”.