by David Cook
As the first rays of sunlight broke across the flatirons this morning, the few guests lingering from last night’s local benefit began to clean up and head to the exits. The all-night extravaganza had concluded and the host, Costen Aytes, stands beleaguered in the dawn light, assessing the damage. But, in the face of the bedlam, Aytes smiles at their success, knowing that hosting guests until the wee hours of the morning was more than worth it.
The event was held in Boulder County at the home of Leslie Jones and Costen Aytes, two conscientious locals who recently traveled to India on a personal holiday. A visit they made to a school for the blind while there moved them to philanthropy.
“The women who run this school are so inspiring,” Aytes commented as the night began. “Seeing how hard they work to prepare their students for life and secondary education was so moving to us that we wanted to share it with you all…We felt that we had to help these women, and we thought if we shared our experience with the community, you all would too.”
The couple was motivated to put on the fundraiser upon meeting Sister Irene, the woman who runs the school in Varanasi, India. Jones elaborated on the need for such a school in that community.
“She is the school. Without her, they would get lost in that culture. I mean, they’re blind. And they’re girls too, on top of that….and some that we met are now ready to go off to college,” she stated proudly, punctuating the school’s major impact.
The turnout for the show was just what the Aytes were hoping for. About 100 people gathered to eat, drink, dance and watch a live show in their newly constructed performance space.
The entertainment featured at the benefit was a local Burlesque troupe, aptly named The Jezzebelles. All four ladies had the crowd cheering and begging for more from the top of their first number. Scantily clad, these “vixens” opened and closed the show together, each having a featured solo act throughout.
The hour-long show incorporated sketch comedy, a French clown, a couple of live duets, and as it wouldn’t be Burlesque without some skin, stripteases galore.
While this seemed a rather racy show to perform in a residential backyard, the crowd loved it, and pitchers throughout the space labeled “donations” were filled to the brim with contributions from generous guests.
“What they’re doing for those kids is amazing,” one masked party-goer commented. “We’re happy to help the cause….and what a great show!”
Just before the last number wrapped and the dancing began, the emcee spoke to the nature of this art form, the power of performance and the beauty it inspires.
“There are a lot of gorgeous goddesses in this community,” The emcee began, “and these women find beauty and power in sexuality.”
His comments were met with cheers and applause, and as the show ended and the dancing began, you could tell that there was no end in sight. Donations poured in as fast as the wine poured out, and these “goddesses” sang and twirled in the cool autumn air for hours.
And now, watching the sunrise this morning, one is reminded that a risqué celebration of art and sexuality can inspire an audience to dig deep in their pockets just as aptly as a black tie affair – and for just as good a cause.