Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Academy of Friends Gala goes Bond


'Shaken, Not Stirred,' this Sunday night at Fort Mason Center

Last year's Academy of Friends Gala. Photo: Courtesy AOF
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So what if this is the dreariest crop of Oscar-nominated films in recent memory? So what if a movie about a pregnant 16-year-old is the only Best Picture nominee that didn't make you want to kill yourself? So what if the most burning question of the movie year was whether or not the Oscars would go on at all? The 28th Annual Academy of Friends Gala on Sunday night at Fort Mason is set to put the glamour back in Oscar night with its James Bond-themed party, Shaken, Not Stirred. The Bond-ed bash will feature food and wine from dozens of restaurants and wineries, and hundreds of handsome men in tuxedos, not to mention Pussy Galore.

"Because of the writers' strike, we asked ourselves, 'If the awards were cancelled, what would make a party fun?'" says David Miranda, this year's Gala co-chair with Nanette Duffy. "The Bond theme is really exciting. We'll have seven different environments, with designers interpreting the Bond world in their own way. The party will unfold as the evening goes on. What happens at 5 o'clock won't be the same as what happens at 7, including some surprises that we've never done before."

While you may still dream of driving James Bond's Aston-Martin, one lucky raffle-ticket holder will win a 2008 Mercedes-Benz Sports Sedan. The fundraising juggernaut, which has so far raised $6.5 million for Bay Area HIV/AIDS organizations, will benefit the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Black Coalition on AIDS, Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network, Immune Enhancement Project, Maitri, Meals of Marin, New Leaf, Project Inform, Shanti, Tenderloin Health, and WORLD.

The post-awards dance party (when Dr. No becomes Dr. Why-the-Hell Not) will feature dance-pop star Taylor Dayne. The powerhouse diva, best known for hits like "Tell It to My Heart," "Don't Rush Me" and "Love Will Lead You Back," will also perform songs from her newly-released CD Satisfied.

Although she's been a household and dance-floor name since 1987, Dayne recalls the moment when she first realized she'd made it: "'Tell It to My Heart' first broke in Europe, and when I arrived in Germany to do a signing event, there were hundreds of screaming girls with their hair crimped like mine. I knew something had happened."

Dayne admits that opening for Michael Jackson and Prin

Recording artist Taylor Dayne.
ce were certainly career highlights, as were her three Grammy nominations. "It means a lot to be recognized by your peers."

While she grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, "Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and Ann Wilson of Heart really showed me that a female singer could be more aggressive, yet still iconic."

Today, Dayne enjoys music by artists like Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, Jill Scott and Alicia Keys, but if she could have a dream duet with anyone, she says, "I admire Willie Nelson incredibly — and my dream duet would've been with Freddie Mercury."

In addition to her recording and concert career, Dayne has appeared on Broadway in Elton John's musical Aida, and in several independent films, including Fool's Paradise, Stag, Jesus the Driver, and the 1994 Warren Beatty film Love Affair.

A relatively new addition to her resume is the role of mother, to six-year-old twins Levi and Astaria. "They add a wonderful dimension to me," she says. "They helped me find that responsible place inside my heart. Although it's tougher than hell to be a single mom, I didn't want to look back on my life and see I'd been so hyper-focused on my career that I missed having a family."

Promoting her new album and its single "Beautiful" has got this single mom hitting The Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, while planning an international tour set to begin in early spring.

In the spirit of Shaken, Not Stirred, which character would Taylor Dayne be in a James Bond film? "I think you know," she says. "I'd be the sexy, tough nut. I'm not afraid to hold a gun — or a whip."

The 28th Annual Academy of Friends Gala, Sun., Feb. 24, 5-11 p.m., Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion, SF. Tickets ($250): Call (415) 995-9890 or go to

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