BINGO bucks

An evening of dinner, dancing and bingo at the ninth annual

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Black-Tie GayBINGO!

, held May 16 at the Crystal Tea Room, got going when the Bingo Verifying Divas (the BVDs) kicked up their stilettos and performed "Money, Money, Money" by ABBA. Winning the Favorite Straight Person of the Year Award was Patricia Lavelle of West Philadelphia, who has participated in AIDS Walk Philly every year since the event began in 1987. She walks in honor of her brother, James Lavelle, who died of the disease in 1996. Lavelle has raised $40,000 in 21 years. The AIDS Fund bingo benefit, attended by 250, raised $30,000 for organizations that provide services for the 30,000 people in the region who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Bethesda Project fund-raiser

Bethesda Project

held its 11th annual

Auction and Party

May 7 at the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park. Among the evening's 325 guests were Phillies president David Montgomery and the Philly Phanatic, who gave a big Phanatic hug to the Rev. Joseph Serano, a Bethesda Project board member. One of the auction items was a rock-and-roll dance party with music by the O'Fenders, led by litigator Bill Ricci of Lavin O'Neil, which went for $3,400. The evening raised $151,000 for Bethesda Project's 12 shelters and residences for homeless men and women in Philadelphia.

Book bests

TV legend Barbara Walters, whose hot new tell-all book,

Audition

:

A Memoir

, is No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, was in town for the

Free Library's annual Book Festival

. Walters attended the

Pickwick Salon

, a reception held May 18 at the Parkway Central Library for members of the George S. Pepper Society, and signed copies of her book. Ted Sorensen was also in town to promote his new book,

Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History

, at a Pickwick Salon event held May 16. He was interviewed by University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Rockefeller and joined 130 Pepper Society members for dinner at the library.

More dough

Rae owner/chef Daniel Stern, Philly Pops conductor Peter Nero, and Ron Rubin and George Ross,

National Museum of American Jewish History

board chairmen, got their hands on some dough at the museum's annual

Only in America gala

held May 15 at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. Looking chic in their chefs' jackets, Stern and his helpers showed the 500 guests how to make a jelly roll before the gala's band, Jellyroll, took to the stage. In keeping with the evening's food theme, the Gala Album featured 60 recipes from Jewish celebrities that included mustard chicken from singer Neil Sedaka, noodle pudding from actor Henry Winkler, and a broccoli-and-anchovy sauce from designer Isaac Mizrahi. The benefit raised $700,000 for the museum.

Powerhouse honoree

Mary Hurtig, who has just stepped down as the

Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania's

director of public policy, was honored by 450 admirers at the association's

benefit dinner

, held May 15 at the Sheraton Society Hill. Hurtig, who received the Bell of Hope Award, has been the powerhouse behind the association's public policy, legislative, education and advocacy initiatives for the last 21 years. Mayor Nutter, state Public Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman, and state Speaker of the House Dennis O'Brien were among the guests. The evening, the association's most successful ever, raised $75,000.