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October 26, 2014

Aretha Franklin, Courtney Love & more make for a musical, motley, magnanimous time at Blacks' gala


It was a scene straight out of the Star Wars bar Saturday night when the Blacks' Annual Gala took over the appropriately named Sparkle Ballroom at the Fontainebleau to raise money for childrens' charities. As promised, a motley crew of boldfacers attended including Courtney Love, demurely dressed in Valentino and drag queen Elaine Lancaster-brand lipstick and about whom host Roy Black, a friend not her lawyer, asserted is quite brilliant.We spoke briefly with the former grunge rocker turned actress, who told us she wasn't sure about any future role in the final season of Sons of Anarchy as she just started a role on the Fox show Empire. Then she skipped out for a cigarette.


TV judge Karen Mills-Francis, aka Judge Karen, was also there, personally invited by the night's headliner, Aretha Franklin, whom Mills-Francis met earlier that day at Carpaccio in Bal Harbour. Apparently Franklin told Mills-Francis she was a big fan of her book, Stay In Your Lane: Judge Karen's Guide to Living Your Best Life, and sent over tickets later that day.

Before Franklin took the stage, we spoke briefly with hip hop artist/ producer Swizz Beatz, who was also there without wifey Alicia Keys, sitting at a table with Haute Living publisher Kamal Hotchandani. Nearby was a newly single Nick Loeb, Sofia Vergara's ex, whose facial expressions we could not catch when host Lea Black, who referred to her former gig, The Real Housewives of Miami as a 'debacle,' was auctioning off a walk on role on his ex's show Modern Family. At some point in the auction, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, sporting a very casual short sleeved shirt, hopped on stage, as did racecar driver Helio Castroneves, who, unlike Crist, was involved in one of the auction items.


And then there was Ms. Franklin, The Queen of Soul, introduced by a gracious Gloria Estefan, whose husband Emilio joined the drummer for a few, and belted a some hits including Chain of Fools, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and her newest, rousing and stellar cover of Adele's Rolling in the Deep, before abruptly deciding to leave the stage without finishing a few bars of Respect. An awkward conclusion by TV's Ross Matthews, aka Ross the Intern, who arrived to the event late, had people scratching their heads. Why the abrupt exit? "She was just done," said an insider. And she was. One of her handlers jumped on stage and grabbed the legend's pocket book, which she was stowing visibly under the piano. 

During Franklin's performance, Flo Rida was busy fielding fawning female fans. Rumor has it one of those happened to be V. Stiviano, best known as Donald Sterling's mistress. Backstage, Franklin was holding royal court at a meet and greet, where she went through the requisite photo ops before asking one of her assistants to grab her fur stole, which meant she was ready to roll in the deep of the night. She said she liked Miami and was thinking of staying an extra day.

And despite rumors that Oprah Winfrey, in town for The Life that You Want weekend,a comic con of sorts devoted to all things Oprah, was going to show, the talk show titan was busy making apologies outside Prime 112 to a woman whose foot was run over by her driver. Winfrey, supping with her best pal Gayle King, got out of her Cadillac Escaclade to make sure all was well. It was. In fact,  it was better than well as the woman--who was fine--and countless fans seemed elated to have a brush with the big O.