September #51 : Three Penny Opera - by Gabi Horn

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September 1999

Three Penny Opera

by Gabi Horn

If Elton vs. Tina on VH1’s Diva’s Live curled lashes, June’s round two flipped wigs. Michael Petrelis, head of the one-man San Francisco AIDS Accountability Project, alleged to New York Post’s Page Six that not all of the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s cash flows into charitable coffers. The Post found no evidence of wrong-doing, however: In fact, the foundation’s IRS forms showed a surprising 80 percent going directly to patient care.

When Larry Kramer got wind of  Petrelis’ hot-air accusation, he fired off a flaming e-mail, which the Post excerpted during Gay Pride week: “Are you crazy?” he bellowed. “How dare you go after Elton John! With all the enemies we have, you must really be off your rocker to go after such a stalwart friend. Get a life.”

Petrelis offered no apologies. “Some-one blasts me on a daily basis. ‘Oh, Michael, you’re so destructive,’” he told POZ in an unusually high nasal whine. “Well, Larry, AIDS groups are in trouble. Why shouldn’t I ask where the money goes?”

Petrelis didn’t lay off the Brit, either. “Nine million dollars donated to AIDS in six years? Elton could give that much a month.” Or can he? The London Times reported on June 27 that a cash-strapped Sir Elton has requested a $140 million loan from a London financier.

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