New York: Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc., 1983. Poersch, Enno. First Edition. Posterboard, 36 x 23 inches. Item #CAT0129a
A promotional poster for an early AIDS benefit at Madison Square Garden, sponsored by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization. GMHC, which still exists, played a very important role in raising awareness for the epidemic in its early years in New York City. The group first met in 1982 in the apartment of playwright Larry Kramer. Enno Poersch, one of the group’s founding members, designed this poster. GMHC was one of the earliest organizations to distribute information about the disease. In 1982, they organized “Showers: A Benefit to Aid Gay Men with Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Other Gay Related Immunodeficiencies.” A Barnum and Bailey Circus benefit and the World’s Toughest Rodeo event followed in 1983.
The owner of World’s Toughest Rodeo, a traditional rodeo which had a normal primary sponsor of Miller Beer, sold the show to the GHMC without realizing it would be an AIDS Benefit. After the show’s owner panicked - he was worried about offending his conservative fanbase - the benefit was referred to only as “The Rodeo.” The rest of the ads for the event, outside of the New York City metropolitan area, showed the traditional advertisement listing Miller as the show’s primary sponsor. A fine example, quite scarce. OCLC lists two copies, with a third shown in the University of Rochester’s special collections.