Howard Stern Producer on HIV, Lifebeat, and Launching The Arches of Hope
Though the world knows Gary Dell’Abate as Howard Stern’s famous prankster producer Baba Booey, many don’t realize that he’s a longtime HIV/AIDS activist whose became involved withLifebeat decades ago, after his brother died of AIDS. This week Dell’Abate is thrilled to announce Lifebeat’s latest endeavor.Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation are hosting a celebration Thursday to celebrate the launch of The Arches of Hope. A stunning and inspiring interactive art installation,The Arches of Hope will be unveiled on the eve of President Obama’s second inauguration as part of a multifaceted campaign aimed at raising awareness of the rise of HIV and AIDS in young people and “calling on our national leaders on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration to help create an HIV-free generation.” The installation was created and conceived by Patrick Duffy, the creative director of gay-oriented hotel The Out NYC, and designed by award-winning Italian designer and architect Antonio Pio Saracino.
The reception, to be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Out NYC in New York, is the kickoff to a week of celebration. From this Thursday through January 24, Lifebeat is asking people from around the country to participate in the campaign by tweeting messages that recognize the installation’s message of hope for an HIV-free generation with the hashtag #ArchesofHope. Messages will then be beamed to jumbo screens in Times Square and displayed via digital ticker tape embedded in the installation, and then shared across 12 major social media sites. “We are also encouraging the public to sign a petition calling on President Obama and Congress to designate April 10 as National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day,” says Dell’Abate, who is “thrilled” that Sandra “Pepa” Denton of Salt-N-Pepa, a longtime advocate for safe sex, will be joining the reception to kickoff the campaign.
We caught up with Dell’Abate, now president of Lifebeat, to talk about his brother’s legacy, getting kids to listen, and whether we’ll ever have an HIV-free generation.
The Advocate: You got involved with Lifebeat after your brother died of AIDS. Were you actively searching for something to do?
Tell me about your brother. What was he like?
Does working with Lifebeat keep you close to him?
Lifebeat is about raising awareness around prevention. Why do you think young people aren’t getting that message?
I saw more people die in five years than I’ve seen in the rest of my life. They think because people don’t die that they can be cured. It’s a foolish idea.
When do you think we’ll have an HIV-free generation?
A lot of people know you as Baba Booey, the brash, ribald, shenanigan-prone producer of The Howard Stern Show. How much does your public image match who you really are? For some people it’s hard to think of that guy as the president of an organization that’s trying to raise awareness about a social cause.
Have you roped Howard Stern into helping with Lifebeat in any way?