On April 7, The Imperial Court of New York’s Night of a Thousand Gowns will take place, and it promises to be a night to remember. The night is a glamorous and opulent event laced with celebrities and royalty, all in the name of charity.

I shared questions with Mark Costanzo, president of The Imperial Court of New York, about the extravaganza, what can be expected and some useful information about how to attend.

I always like to begin by asking where, when and what charity was selected this year for Night of a Thousand Gowns.
This year Night of a Thousand Gowns will take place on April 7, 2018, at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of New York City. Our beneficiary this year is God’s Love We Deliver.

Who will be present, aside from the fabulous Imperial Court of New York?
This year we will be giving our Diamond Award to Cleve Jones and our Gina Quattrochi Award to David Bruinooge for all of their hard work and dedication to the LGBT community. We also have two great performers this year, Beth Sacks and Dawn Tallman, who will both bring down the house.

Is there anything new and unexpected for this year’s extravaganza?
Every year something is new and unexpected. This year our theme is Carnival, with wild decor and colors.

What does the event mean to you personally?
This event means a lot, not only to me but to every member of the Imperial Court of New York. We work so hard every year to make this event more spectacular than the year before. We are an all-volunteer organization, and we put our heart and soul in this production.

What are you most looking forward to?
To a wonderful evening of fun and to raise a lot of money for God’s Love We Deliver.

What are the steps one would take to become involved with the ICNY?
To get involved with our organization you can attend our monthly meeting, which meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the LGBT Center. Our meetings are open to the public. If you join with us, you start off as a lord or a lady, and the more that you get involved and the more you do to help raise money, you climb up the ladder to get elevated to the next level. The highest level you can achieve is to become an emperor or empress.

What are some of the charities ICNY supports throughout the year?
God’s Love We Deliver, Bailey House, GMHC, PFLAG, Ali Forney, amFAR, Callen Lorde, Matthew Shepard Foundation, The Center—there are so many others that we have helped raise much-needed funds for.

How many guests are you expecting this year?
We are expecting 800 to 900 guests this year.

Who is that handsome man standing next to you in the photo of your interview? How long have you both been involved with ICNY?
This handsome man standing next to me is the love of my life, James. We have been together for 36 wonderful and amazing years. We both joined this wonderful organization in 1999 and are both active members.

How did you get started, and what was your motivation in becoming involved?
I joined the Imperial Court of New York in September of 1999. I was so intrigued by what was happening that I wanted to be a part of this group. So I joined, and started off as a lord and worked my way up to become Emperor XV Fantasia. I have served on the board for the past 15 years, and now I am the current president of this organization. I could not have done what I have done for the past year and a half without our wonderful board officers and board members at large and our membership. Together we have done a lot of wonderful and amazing things. We are in full force now with our outreach program, Hearts & Voices. This is where we go to AIDS/HIV facilities and entertain those who are battling with AIDS/HIV and put a huge smile on their faces. We like to be known that we put the fun in fundraising.