Byline: Rose Apodaca Jones

LOS ANGELES — By the time Elton John hit the Universal Amphitheater stage Wednesday, MAC president John Demsey was on his feet and looking like a party host who could finally enjoy the evening.
Demsey received the Medal of Compassion from the Elton John AIDS Foundation and AIDS Project Los Angeles that night, at a concert with Sting, Matchbox 20, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keyes and others. The night raised $1 million for the two charities.
Getting the honor should have been easier this time. It was the second in just two weeks. On Nov. 30, he and MAC were honored by Project Angel Food, a program that delivers hot gourmet meals to house-bound HIV-infected Angelenos.
“He’s just a really good person. He’s not full of himself,” said Mary J. Blige, queen of hip-hop and poster girl for the latest Viva Glam campaign. The lipstick has raised $19 million for AIDS-related groups since MAC introduced it in 1994. Some $5 million have benefited Los Angeles AIDS charities. During Blige’s two-year campaign with Lil’ Kim, MAC raised a record-breaking $7 million from the sales of Viva Glam III. Every cent of the $14 lipstick goes to the MAC AIDS Fund.
Yesterday, the company announced Blige would be back for Viva Glam IV, along with Elton John and Shirley Manson of Garbage. The ad campaign shot by David LaChapelle bows in February 2002.
Demsey, who serves as president of the Fund board, is quick to shift credit away from himself. He repeatedly refers to MAC founders Frank Toskan and the late Frank Angelo, who initiated the fund in 1994 (Angelo died after a heart attack in 1997), as well as owner Estee Lauder for continuing the philanthropic tradition. “To be able to continue the evolution of the charitable side…it wouldn’t have happened if the right stuff hadn’t been there from day one,” he said.
Of course, under Demsey’s leadership, MAC became a member of the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS. Last year, it provided the seed money for the United Nations Development Programme’s Awareness Campaign for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Another $4 million has been raised from the sales of MAC’s “Kids Helping Kids” holiday greeting cards, sold at MAC’s 400 stores worldwide, with 100 percent of the retail price donated to pediatric HIV/AIDS groups.
Demsey’s California visits have been more frequent this year. A unit opened at the new Paseo Colorado Center in Pasadena, and earlier this month at Hollywood and Highland. A lipstick, called “Hollywood Red,” was created exclusively for the store. In March, MAC adds a counter at the Nordstrom opening in The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, and in June, a unit bows at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale.

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