Above: Carroll backstage
Each June the Broadway community gets a little leaner, a little hungrier (a lot more crabby), and somewhere on the pigment scale between "sun-kissed" and "oompa loompa." No, they are not casting for the new musical Charlie and the Vegan Carob Factory; it's simply time for Broadway Bares.
Before I go any further and describe the artistic skinfest that is the show, let me begin by telling you why Broadway artists feel so strongly about this event. Twenty-two years ago, choreographer Jerry Mitchell started doing this benefit in conjunction with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to help raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS.
Looking back, you can literally see a generation of artists wiped out by the epidemic. Many performers, designers, directors, choreographers, dressers, producers, crew members, ushers, agents — the magic makers in my field — were gone. In a time when so many in the community were getting sick and dying and those who were not sick were terrified of dating and physical contact, Broadway Bares was a retaliation against the debilitating fear that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was causing — a way to successfully raise funds, educate people, and celebrate life and sexuality.