The celebrities turned out and the wallets opened up on Sunday, as a capacity crowd of 1,700 turned out to John Varvatos' ninth annual charity event that put $700,000 in the coffers of Stuart House, a UCLA Rape Treatment Center program that helps sexually abused children.
In addressing the crowd, both fashion designer John Varvatos and the organization's founder and director Gail Abarbanel mentioned recent headlines in citing the need for programs like Stuart House. "We've seen, over the last year, with Penn State and other cases, that the need is bigger than it's ever been," Varvatos said.
Following Varvatos on stage, Abarbanel mentioned a situation closer to home. "The result of situations like Penn State and what's going on with some Los Angeles area schools," she said, "is that the nation's consciousness has been raised. This is important because there are three to four new victims of sexual abuse every day and 50% of them are children."
Abarbanel was followed to the stage by honorary event co-chairs Leslie Mann and husband Judd Apatow, the latter of whom was able to add a dose of levity to the seriousness of the cause. "I think paying $8,000 to get your nails done might be worth it," he said in reference to the assorted high-end items up for bid in the silent auction. "Now I'll go buy a candle for $20,000."
Whether it was for expensive waxings or wax or something else, the event, capped by a live musical performance by Dave Matthews, brought in nearly half again as much as the $500,000 raised at last year's event, pushing the total amount raised over the years to $2.7 million.
Spotted in the crowd were Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber, Rachel Zoe and husband Rodger Berman, and Steven Tyler, who was mobbed -- yes, like a rock star -- from the moment of his arrival, by autograph seekers and fans hoping to get their picture taken with the Aerosmith frontman and "American Idol" judge.
If Varvatos wants to break another fundraising record for next year's event, I think on Sunday afternoon he might just have found the guy to help him do it.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: At top left, Dave Matthews performs at the ninth annual John Varvatos Stuart House benefit on Sunday. At right (left to right) John Varvatos, Joyce Varvatos, Dave Matthews, Leslie Mann, Judd Apatow and Stuart House's founder and director Gail Abarbanel. Credit: Getty Images for John Varvatos. At bottom, Steven Tyler and John Varvatos on the red carpet. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images