CVIndependent

Sat12072019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

On Dec. 7, the folks with Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services will transform the Pacific Hangar of the Palm Springs Air Museum into a “winter wonderland.” The goals: Raise money for the organization’s vital services—and have one heck of a good time while doing so.

CVSAS’ Inaugural Winter Wonderland Gala will feature hosted drinks from Tito’s Vodka—drinks with other spirits will be available for purchase—and food from the chef at the Arrive Hotel. Entertainment will include music by Lisa and the Gents.

“Our goal is to keep all our services free of charge,” said Winette Brenner, the program director at CVSAS. “We usually do mini-fundraisers and stuff. … We do free events; we just had our Anti Human-Trafficking Conference, and we’ve made that free, because we want to educate the public. But at some point, we had to do something to have a bigger fundraiser, so we can continue to do those free services.”

The event is being held on Dec. 7—which is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941—and the event is being held in the Air Museum’s Pacific Hangar, which includes exhibits and items from the war in the Pacific during World War II. Therefore, CVSAS is honoring all veterans during the event, and offering them free admission, as well as $50 guest tickets.

“We reached out to the Riverside County Education Academy, and their students are going to come and do a salute in honor of Pearl Harbor Day. We’re very excited about that,” Brenner said.

While the event is happening in December, it’s also happening in Palm Springs, where we really don’t have “winter.” So I had to ask: How will the Air Museum be transformed into a “winter wonderland” of sorts?

“One of our sponsors is Enchanted Memories, and they are going to be giving us a winter-wonderland feeling with decorations and with balloon displays and snow effects,” Brenner said. “We’ll have a picture booth, and we’re going to have a wonderful dessert table. The hangar is going to be open, and it’ll be in the evening—so hopefully, we can have kind of a winter feeling.”

The larger-scale fundraiser is just the latest move by CVSAS to have more of a public presence. The organization operates the local portion of a national 24-hour hotline (800-656-4673) for victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, and offers counseling, advocacy, referrals and other help to both victims and their families. CVSAS is working hard to spread the word about its services, and raise awareness.

“We are talking to anyone who will listen. It’s just so important,” Brenner said. “We’re trying to really educate our community and spread the word about what’s going on in our backyards and in our surroundings. We want to educate parents. It’s important that parents are educated and know what’s going on, so they can protect their children and look for red-flag warning signs as well.

“That also goes with school educators. …  This affects all ages. Unfortunately, sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence—at this point, it has no color. It has no age. It can affect all of us.”

The Inaugural Winter Wonderland Gala, a fundraiser for Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services, will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $100; veterans are admitted for free, with $50 guest tickets. For tickets or more information, call 760-568-9071, or visit www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-winter-wonderland-gala-tickets-76283055673.

I’ll be honest: As I write this column, I am exhausted. November has been one hell of a month here at the Coachella Valley Independent. Here are a few highlights:

• We were again fortunate enough to have a booth at the Greater Palm Springs Pride festival, this year on Nov. 2 and 3. During the two-day fest, we gave out 500 magnetic chip clips with the Independent’s logo, as well as many hundreds of newspapers. Thanks to all of you who stopped by and shared a kind word or three. Also, a personal thank you to Kevin Fitzgerald and Matt King, who helped me out at the booth.

• The following weekend, the Independent hosted the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual Publishers’ Retreat at the Colony Palms Hotel. Our group of publishers—from newspapers in locales ranging from Santa Barbara to Milwaukee, and from Boston to Little Rock—gathered for two days to discuss the media landscape, share ideas, and commiserate over great meals and a cocktail or two. Thanks to all of my fellow publishers who came to Palm Springs; to all of the wonderful people at the Colony Palms; to Willie Rhine and Lucy Kent at Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, which hosted our Friday happy hour; and to our friends at Palm Springs Speaks, who provided tickets to Robert Reich’s speech.

• Finally … we put together our Best of Coachella Valley issue. While I could thank many, many people who helped us produce the fun and informative issue, I have limited space here, so I’ll limit my expressions of gratitude to just two.

First: Beth Allen, our fantastic graphic designer, is the true Best of Coachella Valley MVP. Not only did she design this year’s excellent Best of Coachella Valley logo; she laid out the entire BOCV package for the print edition (which is NOT easy, given the number of moving parts), and she even designed a few late-arriving advertisements. Heck, she wrote three of our staff picks, too. Thanks, Beth; we couldn’t have done this issue without you. Literally.

Second: We also couldn’t do the BOCV issue without you, our amazingly astute and community-minded readers. Thank you for taking the time to head to CVIndependent.com and vote in the two rounds of balloting; I know it can be daunting to face down a slate of almost 130 categories. But you did—and the result is, by far, the valley’s best “Best Of” slate of winners and finalists. Your support is why, as the Independent enters its eighth full year of existence, we do what we do.

Happy holidays, and as always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.—and be sure to pick up our December/Best of Coachella Valley print edition, hitting the streets this week.

What: The disco

Where: Bake’d Cakes and Pan Dulce, 27800 Landau Blvd., Cathedral City

How much: $1.59

Contact: 760-656-0176

Why: It’s caramelized, cinnamon-y goodness.

When I perused the trays upon trays of baked goods at Bake’d Cakes and Pan Dulce, one particular pastry immediately caught my eye: It looked like a cinnamon roll had been flattened by a steamroller. The resulting disc was the size of a large plate.

“What is that?” I asked the pleasant and helpful young woman.

“That’s a disco,” she said—Spanish for disk.

I got the disco and several other goodies to take home and sample. The aforementioned other goodies—including a brownie and a couple of pastries—were very good.

The disco was a revelation.

I will now try to describe the flavor: Imagine a really good cinnamon roll—one with lots of delicious cinnamon—but give it the texture of a crispy cookie. There’s no white glaze like a cinnamon roll would have, but there’s a lot of sugar that’s been caramelized, giving the pastry a thin, clear, almost-candy-like coating. It’s certainly big enough so share … but you probably won’t want to.

It’s big. It’s fragile. It’s so freaking good. As a result of this fantastic festive Frisbee, Bake’d will probably become a regular destination for me—my waistline be damned.

The little family-owned bakery with a decidedly Mexican flair opened back in August, and the place was empty when I was there. Granted, I was there at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight in November, which is not exactly business prime time for a bakery, and I am hoping that’s why I was the only customer—because this place deserves customers, and a lot of them.

So, go. Get a disco—and revel in the cinnamon-y, sugary goodness.

What: The double burger

Where: The Heyday; various locations, including Palm Springs VillageFest on Thursday nights, and The Alibi Palm Springs (369 N. Palm Canyon Drive) on Friday and Saturday nights

How much: $15 (including chips) plus fees via Doordash

Contact: 714-328-3825; theheyday.co

Why: It’s a juicy, perfectly prepared burger.

I had my first burger from The Heyday at Palm Springs Pride.

Several friends of mine had told me I must try the burgers from this pop-up burger joint after getting them at Palm Springs VillageFest, so when hunger struck, and it just so happened that the Independent’s booth was right next to The Heyday, I considered that a sign from the universe.

The hubby and I each ordered a double—featuring two Harris Ranch beef patties, shredded lettuce, American cheese and caramelized onions. Well, the burgers were splendid: juicy, flavorful and filling, despite their not-huge size.

After the madness of Palm Springs Pride had ended, I decided I needed (and, well, wanted) to give The Heyday’s burgers another try, to see if they were oh-so-good on a second devouring. I intended to head to The Alibi on a Friday night to get one after seeing a play … but I was exhausted, so I went home and decided to instead order a burger via Doordash, which can be done when The Heyday is set up at The Alibi on Fridays and Saturdays.

I balked at the price—$15 (more than the $12 we paid at Pride) plus delivery fees and tip—but I went ahead with the purchase anyway … and I am happy to report that the burger that arrived at my door was just as delicious as the burger I eagerly scarfed down at Pride.

Was it worth $15 plus all the fees? No. Was it worth $12 in person at the popup? Yeah … The Heyday’s burgers are that good.

Take a beloved Mexican tradition. Add a health-and-wellness component to it; throw in some great food and drink; and top it all off with some fantastic music. Finally, put it all in the middle of downtown Coachella—and you have Run With Los Muertos, one of the east valley’s most popular annual events.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 people will celebrate the event in Old Town Coachella this Saturday, Nov. 2. The evening kicks off with a procession and ceremony; the 5k race starts at 6 p.m. Registration for the 5k is $40, but the festival is free and open to all. Proceeds from the celebration benefit east valley-focused nonprofit Raices Cultura.

We recently spoke to Tizoc De Aztlan, one of the founders of Run With Los Muertos, which is celebrating its seventh year.

How did you come up with the idea to merge a Dia de Los Muertos celebration with a 5k run?

It was a combination. We had an interest in wanting to have a health and wellness event on the eastern side of the valley—but there are so many 5k runs and things like that. So we wanted to have something that wasn’t your typical 5k. We wanted something that was fun and encompassed more community than (an event just focused on) health and wellness. So we partnered with Raices Cultura, which had been celebrating Day of the Dead for, at that point, seven years. They celebrated it inside a church, and instead, we said, “Hey, bring this out onto the street, and let’s turn this into a block party.” From the first year, it took off. It’s obviously expanded in programming and in terms of a crowd size.

We’re really grateful for the community support. It’s been something that’s grown pretty organically. Every year, we have more and more organizations participate.

How do you decide who participates in the festival?

At the end of the day, it’s meant to celebrate what (Dia de los Muertos) is, right? So we want to make sure that any vendor or exhibitor is on the same wavelength as the event is—so everyone has to be in theme.

Can you tell me more about the entertainment?

We want performers who play well and that the crowd’s going to enjoy. We also always try to bring in a band from outside of the area, so folks get to see someone that they hadn’t seen before. We’ve done that with La Misa Negra; they’re a seven-piece band from Oakland, which does everything from cumbia to ska to a little bit of hip hop.

Ocho Ojos played at Coachella; they’re a local band with a really large following, so people are always really looking forward to where they’re playing next. It’s a mix. We have Eevaan Tre, who does more R&B (style music). We have a young rock band, Pescaterritory, who is doing the rounds; we always want to find space for emerging bands.

This is a community event. We want to have as many different people participate as possible, and have something for the older folks, and something for the younger folks. At the end of the day, it’s a good time for people to come out and enjoy the cultural aspect of what the event is. This is a tradition that goes back centuries, and we’ve kind of put a new spin on it. But at the end of the day, it’s the Day of the Dead. It’s a night for people to honor those who have passed.

What are your hopes for the future of the event? Where do you see Run With Los Muertos in one year, five years, 10 years?

We’re letting it grow organically. There isn’t a specific target that we have in mind.

We always want to keep it fresh. We want to add new elements. This year, we’ve added a food component of molés, so that there’s something for people to look forward to as far as food is concerned. We’ve actually added a car show to the run route—so folks will actually run to a car show!

Is there anything about the event you’d like to add?

The No. 1 thing that we have to relay to folks is: People get intimidated by hearing it’s a 5k, not realizing that many thousands of people go who don’t run, and are there to just take in the night and take in the procession and take in the arts and have some molé. We have Dead or Alive bar providing the beer and wine, and there’s great entertainment. It’s definitely something for everyone. The event itself is free. Some people will be running, but most people are just there to have a good time.

Run With Los Muertos begins at 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, in Old Town Coachella, 1515 Sixth St. 5k registration is $40, but admission to the festival is free. To register for the 5k, visit www.runwithlosmuertos.com; for more information, visit www.facebook.com/runwithlosmuertos.

When Barbara Keller passed away in April at the age of 75, her loss deeply rattled a number of local nonprofit organizations with which she was inextricably involved.

One of those organizations was the Artists Council. The organization was just a few months into uncharted territory: After being a part of the Palm Springs Art Museum for five decades, the council had recently gained its independence.

Tony Radcliffe, the former chair of the Artists Council board and the current exhibition chair, said Barbara Keller was a big part of that transition.

“She always had an interest in artists,” Radcliffe said. “She got involved with helping the Artists Council and then she became a board member (for the museum). She was the liaison to the Artists Council.

“When we would work with Barbara, she had a great sense of how to get things done. She also helped us learn how to raise funds, which we hadn’t been particularly good at before. Near the end of her life, she was there, working with (us) on a regular basis to help us transition from the museum to an independent organization. Jerry and her together have always catered a lot of our events and have been supportive of us all along.”

Because of this long-term record of service to the Artists Council—going all the way back to when Barbara Keller was a docent at the Palm Springs Art Museum—it was an easy decision for the organization to honor the Kellers during the Artists Council’s annual exhibition.

Artists Council Exhibition 2019 will open with a limited-space reception on Thursday, Nov. 7, and will be on display through Friday, Nov. 22, at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Radcliffe said that Barbara Keller’s favorite flowers—sunflowers—are woven through the exhibit as a theme.

The exhibit will feature 82 works, which were culled down from around 370 submissions by 152 Artists Council members. The jurors are Daniela Lieja Quintanar, a curator at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; and Phoebe Beasley, the only artist whose works have been awarded the Presidential Seal under two different U.S. presidents. All works will be for sale, with the proceeds split between the artist and the Artists Council.

Radcliffe said the art in the exhibition is impressive.

“I think we’re getting back to the way we did things a long time ago when we had some really high-quality jurors,” he said.

As the Artists Council approaches its one-year anniversary as an independent entity, Radcliffe said things are going well for the organization. The council’s inaugural exhibit, Metamorphosis, in the spring, was a success, and shortly after the Artists Council Exhibition 2019 closes, the council will hold its fifth annual exhibition at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus. The council has already received its 501(c)(3) status—which is not an easy thing to do—and Radcliffe said he thinks the council is well on its way toward living up to the organization’s mission statement: “to present prestigious art programming that challenges and engages artists and the community while offering quality opportunities for education and development.”

This could not have been done without the work of the Kellers, said Artists Council Chair David Hatcher.

“Transitioning to an independent nonprofit, after a 50-year affiliation with Palm Springs Art Museum, has been exciting and, at times, overwhelming,” he said, according to a news release. “To have had the support of Barbara and Jerry Keller, with their deep knowledge of our history, is an invaluable component to our future success. We cannot thank them enough.”

Artists Council Exhibition 2019 will open with a limited-space reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7, and will be on display through Friday, Nov. 22, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 72567 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free. For more information, visit artistscouncil.com. Below: “Morning Light on Dillon Road” by Sunny Patton.

I’ll never forget June 26, 2015—the day that gay marriage became legal across the entire United States, thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

It’s a day I never thought I’d see in my lifetime, and the sheer joy felt as everyone gathered in downtown Palm Springs to rally and celebrate was, in a word, glorious. We’ve come so far, most of us thought.

Now, not even 4 1/2 years later, the mood of many of the people who gathered to celebrate in Palm Springs that night is decidedly different. Today, the mood is somber. And fearful.

This mood has almost everything to do with actions taken by the Trump administration, which has been downright awful to and for the LGBTQ community. For starters: The U.S. Supreme Court is currently debating whether it should be legal for employers to fire employees based on their sexuality and/or trans status. Let me restate that slightly differently: The U.S. Supreme Court, in 2019, is currently debating whether it should be legal for employers to discriminate against employees on a basis that has nothing to do with job performance. The Trump administration, for the record, thinks it should be legal for employers to engage in such discrimination.

Of course, that’s not the only matter involving rights that is now up in the air under the Trump administration. Trans men and women are now banned from joining the military. Abortion rights are under attack nationwide—and it’s possible the U.S. Supreme Court could wind up deliberating the issue, even though Roe v. Wade has been supposedly settled law for 46 years. Even gay marriage could get relitigated, if the Trump administration gets its way.

All of this is why, when the LGBTQ community gathers to celebrate Greater Palm Springs Pride, the usually celebratory mood will be tinged with a bit of sorrow. Of anger. Of fear.

Fortunately, there are a lot of local reasons to justify the aforementioned celebratory mood at Pride. You can read about two of those reasons—amazing LGBTQ locals working to improve and expand our local music scene—in stories we recently posted at CVIndependent.com: Brad Guth, the openly gay owner of The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, a former (and current, sort of) metal bar; and DJ Sugarfree, aka Noemi Rodriguez, one of the valley’s top DJs, who is taking steps to improve and diversify the local underground music scene. Those stories are also included in the special Pride Issue package of our November print edition.

As always, thanks for reading; contact me if you have questions or comments. Also, be sure to pick up the November 2019 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting newsstands this week—and be sure to drop by our booth at Palm Springs Pride!

Owners of Wally’s Desert Turtle to Retire at the End of the Season; Restaurant’s Future ‘To Be Determined

At the very least, management change is coming to Wally’s Desert Turtle, one of the desert’s pre-eminent fine-dining restaurants, located at 71775 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage: Owners Michael and Nicole Botello have announced they’re going to retire at the end of the tourist season.

Wally’s—which was opened by Michael’s father, Wally Botello, in 1978—has been managed by Michael and Nicole since 1982.

What does this mean for the future of Wally’s? We reached out to the restaurant and asked whether it would close or continue on under new management. The response: “That is to be determined. What we know at this time is that the Botellos are retiring.”

Watch this space and www.facebook.com/wallysturtle for more information.


Sanctuary Palm Springs Throws a ‘Holiday Spectacular’ at Spencer’s

One of the valley’s most amazing nonprofits also happens to throw one of the valley’s most festive holiday parties—at one of the valley’s most revered restaurants.

Sanctuary Palm Springs—a transitional home for former LGBTQ foster youth, 18-21, who have aged out of the system—will be throwing its Holiday Spectacular fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Bougainvillea Room at Spencer’s Restaurant, at 701 W. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs.

We’ll now quote from the news release, because it explains the goings-on as well, if not better, than we could: “The $95 ticket price includes cocktails, lavish hors d’oeuvres, and a not-so-silent auction co-hosted by the effervescent Dottie and Maude of Les Dames du Soleil, plus a special performance by Broadway’s David Burnham. David is an award-winning actor and singer last seen on Broadway in the mega-hit musical, Wicked. The event will be hosted by actor and comedian Alec Mapa.”

The event was formerly known as Holiday Socks, because it involved filling holiday stockings with presents for the youth living at Sanctuary. “With a goal of raising funds to help support the entire program, the ‘socks’ part of its name seemed less relevant, so we’ve evolved and renamed it Holiday Spectacular, which is more fitting,” said Rob Woronoff, Sanctuary’s executive director, in the aforementioned news release.

For tickets or more information, visit sanctuarypalmsprings.org (click on “Support Us” for tickets), or call 760-766-3500.


In Brief

New to 73850 Highway 111, in Palm Desert: Grindhouse Burgers. The joint’s Facebook page promises a unique, never-frozen burger blend, along with brews and TVs with sports on. And what’s this about sweet-potato tots? And homemade brown sugar maple cake? Call 760-404-0300, or visit facebook.com/grindhouseburgersurge for more details. … Brew in LQ, one of the east valley’s best beer festivals, returns on Saturday, Nov. 2. More than a dozen breweries will be on hand, along with food, live music, games and more. It takes place at the One Eleven La Quinta Center, at 78950 Highway 111, in La Quinta, and advance tickets cost $25, or are two for $30, plus fees; designated drivers get in for $10, and imbibers will pay $10 more at the door. Get tickets to the rain-or-shine, 21-and-older event, as well as more info, at www.playinlaquinta.com/brew. … Even though the big event isn’t until March 27-29, 2020, tickets are now on sale for the annual Palm Desert Food and Wine festival. Admission to the grand tastings starts at $100. Head on over to www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … Even though this is a project by friends of the Independent, we don’t know a lot about it—but we’re intrigued. It’s called the Palm Springs Oyster Society, and the description on the Instagram page simply reads: “Oysters and caviar. DM us to RSVP for our next event November 10th.” Wanna know more? Get thee to that Instagram page (www.instagram.com/psoystersociety), and send a DM! … New to the Cathedral Canyon Golf Club, at 68311 Paseo Real, in Cathedral City: Jax Bar + Dining. It’s operated by Jack Srebnik, the owner of The Slice in Rancho Mirage, and Maracas Mexican Cantina in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs. Expect California cuisine, live music on the weekends, and other fun; visit www.facebook.com/JAXBarDining for more. … Newish at 66121 Pierson Blvd., in Desert Hot Springs: Delicias Mexican Cuisine. The owners promise “authentic Mexican food from Mexico City.” Sounds yummy! Head to www.facebook.com/DeliciasMexicanCuisine for more. … One of our favorite local chefs has landed at one of our favorite special-occasion restaurants. Jennifer Town, formerly of the Purple Room and Melvyn’s, is now the executive chef at the Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms Hotel, at 572 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Curious about what she’s up to? Watch www.facebook.com/PurplePalmRestaurant.

What: The New York supreme pizza

Where: Palermo’s New York Pizza, 400 S. El Cielo Road, No. C, Palm Springs

How much: $24.99 for the extra large (16-inch), as shown

Contact: 760-416-1138; www.palermosnypizza.com

Why: The delicious, pliable, strong thin crust.

As deadline approaches for the print edition of this fine newspaper, I usually order a huge pizza. It’s not the healthiest thing, but it’s convenient and time-saving: Whenever I get hungry, I can grab a slice or two out of the fridge and chow down as I work.

I have my usual go-to pizza places, but this month, I decided to try somewhere different: Palermo’s New York Pizza. I have seen people rave about the place on the social-media sites, but I’d never been there before. So as deadline approached, I went online to the Palermo’s website and ordered what seemed like the logical pie, given the pizzeria’s full name—the New York supreme pizza.

Well, now I have what will become another usual go-to pizza place.

There was nothing on top of this huge pizza that made it stand out: The ample toppings were all good, and the sauce was decent, but nothing made me jump up and down. What did have me (figuratively) hopping was what was on the other side of the pizza—the crust.

Much is made of the strong pliability of good thin-crust New York pizza: The crust should be sturdy enough to support all of the yumminess on top, yet flexible enough for on-the-go folding and devouring. However, the crust at many so-called “New York-style” pizza places fails on at least one of these criteria.

Palermo’s pizza does not: It passes the two-prong test with flying colors. It’s delicious, too—elevating the pizza from “pretty good” to “I think I want to order another one.”

Steven Fales has been doing his one-man show Confessions of a Mormon Boy for a long time—for 18 years, to be exact.

After a 2001 Salt Lake City premiere and 10-week developmental run in Miami in 2003, Mormon Boy was a hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, and enjoyed a four-month Off-Broadway run in 2006. Since then, it’s been performed all around the world—including South Africa this past summer.

However, Fales and Confessions of a Mormon Boy have now created a home, of sorts, right here in Palm Springs: Fales will be performing the show every Tuesday night at The Club at Hotel Zoso through the end of January. After a month or so of previews, the official opening night will take place Tuesday, Oct. 22.

This is the third Coachella Valley stint this year alone for Confessions of a Mormon Boy, following performances at the Desert Rose Playhouse and Oscar’s. I spoke to Fales during the show’s month-long stint at Oscar’s.

“The desert is becoming home,” Fales told me in May.

Fales invited me to check out a recent preview performance. The autobiographical show, using original direction by Tony Award winner Jack Hofsiss, chronicles Fales’ life journey as a sixth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—who realizes early on that he’s gay. The show starts with a recording of Fales blaring out a song he made up as a child.

“I just made up songs like this,” Fales tells the audience. “Mormons record everything.”

Over the next 90 minutes, Fales takes us along with him on that journey—including a mission to Portugal and college at Brigham Young University, during which he joined the Young Ambassadors, a BYU song-and-dance group. It was as a Young Ambassador he had his first gay experience—something Fales promptly confessed to his bishop.

The church encourages Fales to undergo reparative therapy—which, of course, only makes matters worse. Despite the fact that he’s attracted to men, Fales is encouraged to date women, and he eventually falls in love with a woman who just so happens to be the daughter of Carol Lynn Pearson, the author of Goodbye, I Love You—an autobiography about her marriage to a gay man who eventually dies of AIDS. Even though Fales is honest with his girlfriend, Emily, about his same-sex attraction, they get married and have two children.

“We were going to write a different story,” Fales tells the audience.

Despite Fales’ best efforts to battle his homosexuality—including therapy costing $135 for a 45-minute session—Fales and Emily grow progressively unhappy. When Fales eventually confesses a series of sexual affairs to his wife, their marriage is over. So, too, is Fales’ life as a member of the church. For me—myself a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the most moving part of the play comes when Fales recounts his experience in church court, which results in his excommunication.

After this, the play’s tone changes considerably, becoming more frantic and more graphic (including Fales stripping down to his skivvies and simulated sex)—which, appropriately, mirrors what happens in Fales life: He moves to New York City, ostensibly to pursue his acting career. What actually follows is work as an escort, drug use and, as Fales puts it, six months of “my own personal Moulin Rouge.”

There is no suspense, really, in Confessions of a Mormon Boy—we know Fales makes it through, because he’s standing right in front of us, 18 years after the concluding moments in the play, which Fales has tweaked and refined over the years (including the addition of a reveal toward the end of the play I won’t give away here). However, Fales makes up for that lack of suspense by keeping the audience engaged through every minute of the show’s run time: There’s not a lull or a dull moment. There are funny moments, moving moments and appropriately awkward moments (as well as a handful of moments that could be refined or excised, such as more than one brag by Fales about his endowment size). But there is never a dull one.

Steven Fales has been invited to perform Confessions of a Mormon Boy all over the country and the world for almost two decades for good reason: It’s a great show by a talented performer.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 7:30 p.m., every Tuesday, through Jan. 28, at The Club at Hotel Zozo, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $24.95 to $99.95. The Tuesday, Oct. 15, show is a preview with discounted tickets; opening night is Tuesday, Oct. 22, and includes a special performance at 7 p.m. by Jill Kimmel. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyexperience.com.

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