Every year, Ticked HOT Pink brings an event to New York City with the goal of raising funds and awareness for women’s rights. Their goal seems more urgent than ever this year. I had the opportunity to speak to one of the founders of Tickled HOT Pink, Niki Dankner, who has a lot to say about the event and about what else we need to do going forward.

Spoon: Can you tell me a little bit first about the event?

Niki Dankner (ND): Of course! The event is happening tomorrow [Saturday, January 28]. It’s called Plan A! because we need to protect our Plan B. As well as all other fundamental female rights, given this political climate that we are currently in. All of the funds, 100 percent of the proceeds are being donated to Planned Parenthood clinics in need. 50 percent will be donated to the New York City affiliates and then 50 percent will be donated to the southeast affiliates. It’s going to be such a fun event. We have an amazing raffle. We have an art auction with amazing pieces everyone can bid on. We have a DJ. We have an amazing Bosco photo booth donated. We have a Planned Parenthood table so that you can write postcards to your senator so that you can stay involved. And also an open bar, so people will be having a lot of fun. And it’s for a good cause. We keep using the phrase "partying our protests." Protesting is awesome but partying is really fun. We want to make sure that people continue to stay involved and this is a really easy way to show it. We teamed up with Medium Rare, an event production company and they have been incredible partners for us, as well as our venue Dobbin St. They are our two big sponsors.

Spoon: You have been doing Tickled HOT Pink for quite a few years now, right?

ND: Yes, I actually started Tickled Pink which is the teenager version when I was 15 years old. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed when I was very young so, you know, I wasn’t aware of the severity of the situation or everything that she was going through. When I became knowledgeable about breast cancer, I wanted to find a way to get involved. When I was in tenth grade, we started Tickled Pink and raised funds for Susan G. Komen. And then post-college, my sister and I joined up and we did Tickled HOT Pink, which is the more adult, 21 and over event. We had two of those, which both sold out. So now it’s been about ten years of raising funds for women’s health. It also started with my mom being an activist, being a philanthropist. I know it sounds corny been she’s been a great role model for us. You know, early detection saves your life and I want to make sure that women everywhere have access to preventative care and treatment to fight this deadly disease.

Spoon: Have you and Tickled HOT Pink worked with Planned Parenthood for every event?

ND: No, this is our first year working with Planned Parenthood. We actually cut ties with Susan G. Komen when they started defunding Planned Parenthood in 2011. We felt very strongly that, we loved working with them, but that wasn’t the right direction that we were going in. So when we stopped working with them, we moved on to the Dubin Center, which is an amazing breast center at Mt. Sinai. That was our beneficiary the past two years and we loved working with them as well but we decided this year, we wanted to work with Planned Parenthood given the political decisions that are happening right now. So this is our first time and we are so excited to have them at the event and have their support and hopefully raise more funds for their amazing mission. 

Spoon: I know that you marched on Washington the day after the inauguration. Can you talk about your experience?

ND: It was incredible! It’s hard to put into words how it felt to be surrounded by such strong, amazing, like-minded people. The poster that I brought, I taped images of my grandmothers, my aunts, my sisters, my mom, because I wanted these strong "nasty" women there with me who couldn’t be there physically. And I went with my two best girlfriends. It was life changing, knowing that I was a part of it and that people around the country and the world were all marching together. I’m glad that we have this fundraiser to keep the momentum going and to show how much support we have for women’s health. We are not going to sit down and stop speaking. We are going to make our voices heard. The march is only the beginning. It was only the second day that Trump was in office. We will be marching many times again but that first one was truly incredible and life changing.

Spoon: What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about Planned Parenthood that really need to be cleared up?

ND: I think number one is that Planned Parenthood is solely focused on abortion. That is not the case. People think that abortion is the most popular service that Planned Parenthood provides. Actually, it only accounts for about 3 percent of their health care services. 31 percent are there for contraceptive access. And testing and treatment are 45 percent. So it focuses on helping women stay healthy and not solely on abortions. It’s going to be hurting a lot of people.

Spoon: Tickled HOT Pink is based on New York and Plan A! will be happening in New York. Do you have any plans to spread it to other cities in the upcoming years?

ND: That would be awesome! You know this fundraiser had the most incredible committee of men and women who have given me hope when I was feeling really down. Ever since the election, I’ve been looking for something to keep me going and working with these people has really given me that and, if anything, I’d really like to give that to other people. To spread this event to other cities around the country would just be a dream come true. So hopefully the people who attend this event have fun and they spread the word to their friends who can maybe get this going in other places outside of New York City.

Spoon: I know the event is currently sold out but are there other ways to get involved?

ND: Yes! We are allowing everyone to be involved in our raffle [which you can enter here] for only ten dollars. Our amazing pieces have been donated, from Flywheel to Knicks tickets to “The Daily Show.” It’s a very wide range of prices and you can pick which bucket you want to enter so if you’re more of a fashion person, you can make sure it goes into that bucket. So even if you can’t attend the event, we would love if everyone would buy a raffle ticket. We are going to pull the winners afterwards and announce them Monday morning. We would love everyone to be involved, but if not, then, you know, just at least donate. Every dollar counts. Every donation makes a huge impact on these clinics. We will continue planning more events so that more people can continue to come.

Spoon: Is there anything else that you think people should know about the event?

ND: I would say the biggest thing to remember is how well-received this has been. You know, you think we are living in this bubble, but instead all of these amazing companies are willing to donate their time, their product, and their money to support us and it’s been so amazing to see. We just see that people are truly generous and giving the time that we are in, we are just so much stronger together and we will come together to make a difference. I think that’s the biggest thing that I have taken away from this, we are stronger together and we are supporting each other. Even the venue, Dobbin St., donated and gave us all of their help because they wanted to find a way to help. I think that’s important. Find what you can do to help. I think that’s something we can all take away from the past couple months.