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On Tuesday night, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo walked into Cipriani Wall Street and found something he hasn’t lately: a receptive audience.

In the last few days before a reelection that was supposed to be uneventful, Cuomo has been on the defensive, tussling with journalists asking him uncomfortable questions about corruption in Albany and fending off criticism about his and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s handling of the states’ response to the Ebola crisis.

At Elton John’s 13th annual Enduring Vision benefit, however, there was no one to remind the governor of his headaches. Cuomo, accompanied by girlfriend Sandra Lee, sailed by most reporters on the red carpet and inside was singled out for his efforts to fight AIDS in the state and his victory with gay marriage.

The evening began on a lighter note with an explosion of flashbulbs on the red carpet for a momentous hug between John, in a bedazzled black suit, and octogenarian photographer Bill Cunningham, in his usual blue coat. The singer spoke with typical flair about his charitable efforts.

“What we’re finding now is people still aren’t getting tested and so it’s leading to a rise in infections and people are taking the current drugs that are available for granted,” he said. “Unfortunately, they’re not being responsible and it’s pissing me off.”

Alec Baldwin picked up Neil Patrick Harris and twirled him around for the cameras though photographers were apparently more interested in the actor’s wife, Hilaria, who teased her daughter’s Halloween costume.
“I won’t tell you what she’s going to be, but last year she was a banana and this year it’s in the same family,” she said.

Padma Lakshmi hasn’t decided on her costume just yet.

“I once went to a Lanvin party dressed like Cleopatra, but in all my own jewelry and a Lanvin dress,” she said. “Some magazine like People or US Weekly put, ‘She’s overaccessorized,’ not realizing that it was my Halloween costume.” The benefit, which also drew host Anderson Cooper, Marina Abramovic, Kelly Bensimon and Al Roker, raised $3.7 million for John’s foundation.

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