Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cielo Latino, an unexpected passion...

All images by bleacher+everard (copyrighted)

Click on images to enlarge!
(Above: India, opening the Cielo Latino "Coffee Table Magazine")

Days, evenings... nights without sleep... my urge for perfection has stolen my stillness, again.

Cielo Latino, the benefit gala for the Latino Commission on AIDS has enveloped me in an unimaginable way. My job? To glamorize the event. The results? The production and art direction of an
AIDS campaign worth over a quarter million dollars; a "Coffee Table Magazine" which feature those which in one way or another have supported the AIDS cause and quotes from their rationale as to why they are involved in the AIDS battle. A list of designers who have donated to the Cielo silent auction. A growing list of celebrities that have said "presente" for the AIDS cause. A first-time Greeting Committee for the Cielo Latino gala. A new International Ambassador for the LCOA and recipient of the ILKA Award, Gael Garcia Bernal... and last but not least, the unleashing for a new passion that simply makes me feel more HUMAN!

What a journey this has been! The one to blame? Elias Guerrero, friend,
Medical Director of the Institute for Authentic Process Healing and board member for the LCOA. He introduced me to Cielo Latino some 5 years ago.

Second one to blame? Roy Cosme, President and CEO of Arcos Communications. Roy has listened to me, believed in me and given me direction, support and an office. Thanks Roy, Marc, Deborah Garcia, Yai, Rina, Barbara!

Third to blame? Stephanie Canciello. My agent, and one of the essential corners that make up this trilogy that developed the concept (Roy, Stephanie and Karlo).

(Above: Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Universe 2006 and Dennis DeLeon, President of the LCOA)

Zuly, as her friends, colleagues and family call her... Well, I am in awe with Zuleyka, I have nothing to say but that she was unbelievable. Everyone from the creative team and then some were just in shock. I want to thank Roston Ogata and Paula Shugart, President of the Miss Universe Organization, for their support and immediate assistance. Farewell Zuleyka on this year as Miss Universe! A new beginning could be born!

Dennis DeLeon! What an inspiration! The driving force behind the Latino Commission on AIDS. "Luchador", an example some of us should follow meticulously. A lesson in humbleness and what really matters in life. My favorite image, so strong, so engaging!

(Above: Celebrity DJ, Marcelo Cunning and MSNBC National Correspondent for the "Today Show" Natalie Morales)

Music could not be left out in this spread, hence Marcelo Cunning of Nacotheque, whom I call "Defensor de la Cultura." The Nacotheque reviews (his bi-weekly parties in NYC) in The New York Times and New York Magazine are only but outstanding. "Thank you for the music...without a song or dance, what are we?"- ABBA.

Natalie Morales? Can I tell you just one thing? Sweet as sweet can be. Not to mention talented, smart... you name it. This woman has the schedule from hell (at least for me, I'm not a morning person at all), no time to waste. She's a business woman, a mother and a wife, but still gave her time for Cielo. At the photoshooot she was right on time, stroke a pose, gave us her best, taught her P.R. agent about Puertorican cuisine (and it wasn't J-Lo at Barbara Walters, thank God), spoke to us about her family (Puertorican father and Brazilian mother), and on top of that had time to write us an email about how happy she was to have met us and work with us. This is wonder woman! Thanks Natalie! Oh! one more thing, she was the MC for Cielo Latino, and that was from 6 PM to 11PM, go back to her schedule and do the math.

(Above: Singer Jean and Lupe Ontiveros, actress/AIDS activist.)

Jean (Rodriguez) stood handsome in all the photos for the journal and gave an outstanding performance at the event. His grace and charisma envelope men and women alike.

Lupe, what can I say of Lupe? Lupe is unique. Lupe is direct. Lupe is transparent. Lupe is a woman. Lupe is "tres pares de cojo..." What a spirit. What a life. What an amazing attitude. God bless you Lupe, keep up the good work and I hope we can collaborate more in the future. We all love you!

(Above: Patricia Velasquez, actress, model, philanthropist and mother; and Guillermo Chacón, Vice President of the LCOA)

When Patricia first heard about this project I was producing, she committed without hesitation before I could even ask her. She was going to be there for the LCOA, as simple as that. So in the middle of her own benefit gala preparation for the Wayuu Taya Foundation, Patricia gave us four hours of her time to save lives. Thanks Patrica for all the love and support. Hugs from all at Arcos Communications and the LCOA.

If I ever have the opportunity to choose a father, I would choose Guillermo Chacon. I've already told his wife Donna, just in case he wants to adopt me. It would be an out-of-the-box kind of situation, but it's OK, we are use to thinking outside of it anyways. The camera loves him, but what else can I say, its a reflection of the love he spreads around the world working for the LCOA. Donna, keep an eye, you know, these images might take him to the cover of People's magazine 50 most beautiful people issue. Watch out!

But how about the opening of the spread? India. "Se te paran los pelos" when you hear this woman sing. She gave us passion, "chispa," sensuality, charisma... she's so alluring. Watch her sing and you might as well stop dancing just to admire such spectacle. When she gives it to you, it's a 100% or nothing! She worked it. Thank you India.

(Above: Any resemblance to Karlo is purely coincidental)

Oh well, what can I say? It was a great journey and one that was definitely not lonely. For the success this journal has had already cannot be credited to one single person or organization alone. There are many to thank. The synergy of all these people's work has created this "Cielo Latino Coffee Table Magazine." The "Magazine" headed the printed program for Cielo Latino on May 23, 2007 at Cipriani Wall Street. I'm proud to have worked in collaboration with these wonderful people, otherwise this would not have been able to come to life. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart:

Katie Bleacher and Dean Everard, photographers. Johanna Laracuente, stylist. Antonio Zazua, hairstylist. Javier Romero, retoucher. Jun Olman, videographer. Eagle's Nest Studios/ Grant Leduc. Diamante Studios/ Ben DeJesus. Stephanie Canciello, president of Unali Artists, Inc. The Arcos Communications family; Roy Cosme, President ; Debora Garcia, Account Executive; Yai, Rena, Marc and Barbara. Daniel Ravelo, graphic designer/ LCOA. India, Ana, Natalie Morales, Megan, Jean, Patricia Velasquez, Guillermo Chacon, Dennis DeLeon, Daniel Connolly, Elayne Monnens, Zuleyka Rivera, Marcelo Cunning, Lupe Ontiveros, Latino Royalty, Carlos Campos, Alvin Valley, Juicy Couture, Monif C., Diesel, Moschino, Ben Sherman, Aldo, Guissepe Zannoti, Erika Peña, Ben-Amun, Ted Baker London, D&G, Frye, J. Lindeberg, Rod Keenan, David Yurman and Francesco Smalto.

Special thanks to: Gael Garcia Bernal, Katina, Pablo Meyer, Karina Vieira and Denise Quiñones.

I reiterate my gratitude to Arcos Communications and the Latino Commission on AIDS for their trust, hard collaborative work and being open to new ways and ideas to reach out and make people more aware of AIDS.

Cielo Latino Making off Shooting by Jun Olman

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My gratitude also to the members of the Greeting Committee: Javier Boné (La Perla), Jose Santori, Catherine Correa, Sebastian Burd, Carmen Verdeal, Hernan Rincon, Florencia Minniti and Michelle Otero.

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