It was roughly 1 a.m. on Friday morning when Katy Perry finally made her entrance onstage at the Cannes amfAR gala in the South of France. Decked out in a golden gown that brought to mind a shimmering lioness, she told the revelers that they should all be drunk by now (and they mostly were), before launching into her pop hit “Roar.” Perry followed with slowed-down renditions of “Teenage Dream” and “I Kissed A Girl,” before closing out the night with “Firework.” She only struck one briefly serious note: “We must find a cure for HIV/AIDS,” she said between songs.
When the crowd wobbled away from the stage, her boyfriend Orlando Bloom — who had been watching the mini-concert from the side of the mosh pit — made his way to Leonardo DiCaprio’s table. The two actors (who are pals) hugged. Over small talk, DiCaprio took a puff from his vape and passed it on to Bloom, who joined him for a smoke. Even at this late hour, Gatsby was still standing, Old Sport.
With a running time of more than five hours, the amfAR dinner and auction outpaces the Oscars. Held in a tent outside the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, the affair feels like the Golden Globes meets Cirque du Soleil. (A parade of showgirls kicked off the evening, because why not?) The 23rd edition of the event raised $25 million for HIV/AIDS research, but also kept up with tradition as the wackiest and most VIP party at the biggest film festival on Earth.
The guests in attendance included Helen Mirren, Adrien Brody, Harvey Weinstein, Heidi Klum and Uma Thurman, pitching millionaires to open their checkbooks for the exclusive items on the auction block. Ron Burkle splurged $1.1 million on a camouflage Ferrari to add to his car collection. A day with Kevin Spacey sold for $575,000. That was just slightly better than the $500,000 spent on a chance to sleep in DiCaprio’s bed for a week in his Palm Spring vacation home. But the star wasn’t included. (When he wasn’t smoking, DiCaprio spent most of the night texting, which dispels the notion that someone who found fame before the Internet age is allergic to technology.)
Milla Jovovich and Diego Luna got raunchy when presenting an art installation of five disco balls by Swiss artist John Armleder. Luna told the crowd that Spacey had inspected them. “He got a chance to look at them, not touch them,” Luna said. “They are huge.” Jovovich deadpanned that she couldn’t take the balls because she’s married — but bought them anyway for $170,000.
Brody, who won the Oscar for “The Pianist,” struck a more melancholy tone at the microphone, explaining why he hasn’t starred in movies recently. “Many of my friends know I took a hiatus from my acting work,” he said. “I spent the last year painting.” He debuted his latest creation, a fish in a pastiche of Crayola colors, which inspired a smattering of bids (and still managed to fetch $500,000).
One of the biggest sales was for 32 custom designer dresses that were presented in the middle of the event in a fashion show on steroids. With the crowd up on their feet, Bloom cradled Perry in his arms (in a pose similar to Jack and Rose onboard the Titanic). Other performances included the Village People (the only attendees who weren’t dressed in black-tie attire) and the Bluebell Girls.
The evening got off to a political start with emcee Spacey (channeling Johnny Carson) delivering a series of jokes that blasted presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Spacey noted that amfAR regular Sharon Stone couldn’t make it to the South of France because she was fighting another disease. “The name of the disease is Donald Trump,” Spacey said to uncomfortable laughter. “Foreign films contain two things Donald Trump hates the most: foreigners and reading.”