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Fri11222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

I recently asked a reality-TV star about politics.

“I never thought I’d run for president … but if America wanted a bankrupt, second-rate reality star with bad makeup and hair, it could’ve been me!” Bianca Del Rio said. “I can’t watch the fuckery!”

Del Rio—best known for winning the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race—will be concluding her current Blame It on Bianca tour on Friday, Nov. 23, in a show benefiting AAP-Food Samaritans at the Riviera Palm Springs. The show will mark the Coachella Valley debut for the New York-based “clown in a dress” (her words, not mine) and her unfiltered, occasionally controversial brand of comedy.

“I have never been to Palm Springs before,” she told me. In other words, she’s a virgin! (Well, in this one sense.)

Drag was a calling for her, said Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock).

“Without sounding insane, I have been doing drag for 23 years,” she said. “It wasn’t a choice. I started in New Orleans, and then (moved to) New York. Then a magical thing happened: I did RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Not only did Del Rio “do” the show; she won the whole thing back in 2014.

“It shifted my entire life,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind for the past five years now. I have traveled on six continents now. I’m still trying to book Antarctica.”

She has appeared in venues small and large … and they’re getting larger.

“I did three nights in London in a theater that holds 3,300 people on this tour, but next year, I have been bumped up to a large arena,” she said. “I will be the first drag queen to play the Wembley Arena. It will be absolutely insane!”

I asked Del Rio to elaborate on her earlier statement that drag was not a choice.

“It wasn’t a conscious choice. I don’t know anybody who consciously says, ‘I want to be a drag queen,’” she said. “Well, maybe nowadays because of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. In my day, even (members of the) gay community didn’t want to be drag queens. It was the land of misfits. I mean, we weren’t the butch guys; we weren’t the normal people. We were just a little group of outsiders. Everybody did either song or dance. It really became a showcase, so to speak. In those days, you had to either go to a bar or go underground for a drag show. It wasn’t celebrated. But when you’re an out-of-work actor, or things just aren’t going well, you do a drag show.

“I’ve always worked in theater and in costumes—that was my day job. … You never know if you’re going to be working. It all just reflected on what was happening in my life. I might be doing Mamma Mia! for eight years; then it closes, and then it’s back to drag shows every night. Then Drag Race happened, and it really shook things up for me.”

I asked if she had any advice for a young drag-queen-lette who was just starting out.

“Don’t do it—it’s a trap!” Del Rio said. “You will spend more money than you’ll ever make! It’s quite pricey to be a drag queen. You have to do it because you love it. You have to do it because you’re having a good time—and the minute you aren’t having a good time, then you need to stop. Truly.

“Because of shows such as Drag Race, that has really opened up everything for me. The flip side to it all is you can’t walk outside without a drag queen falling out of a tree. Anywhere! There is so much more to drag than what people see on TV.”

What can we expect to see in Bianca Del Rio’s show?

“Expect the unexpected. I hate everyone!” she said. “Seriously, it’s an honest opinion. I unleash the demons, and I talk about it. No one is safe!

“What really happens in the show depends on the audience. There’s a lot of material that I use in America that I have not used in the U.K. Other countries have their own issues, and they don’t give a shit about Trump. It depends; I cover everything from politics to Drag Race. I cover the experiences I’ve had, which comes to explain why I am the hateful mess that I am today. There’s also a portion of the show that is audience participation. … It’s always amazing the questions people will ask you, or the situations that they will put you in. … I’ve had people ask where I put my dick. The answer is: Under my wig.”

Del Rio explained that it’s really damned hard to be a drag queen on tour.

“I lost my luggage once,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest fears to any drag queen—because what is a drag queen without costumes? A man! It was a challenging moment, and I was in Wisconsin, of all places—not that they expect much glamour there anyway. So, not being known for glamour myself, I thought: What do I do? I just ran to the local Walmart, and I had to do a mini challenge! … So, of course, I told the airline not to forward my luggage to Wisconsin, because I was going to Washington, D.C., the next day. Of course, they forwarded it to Wisconsin, so I had no luggage in D.C. At least you can go shopping there!”

Bianca Del Rio will perform Blame It on Bianca! at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23, at the Riviera Palm Springs Grand Ballroom, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $45 to $199, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit AAP-Food Samaritans. For tickets or more information, visit blameitonbianca.brownpapertickets.com.

Published in Comedy

Former Dish Chef Lands at Azucar; Alebrijie Lands in Former Dish Space

As the saying goes: When one door closes, another opens—and such is definitely the case in the restaurant industry.

A door closed, literally, for Joane Garcia-Colson last fall, when she shut down Dish Creative Cuisine, her well-regarded restaurant at 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs; she cited conflicts with others involved with the business as the reason. I don’t use the phrase “well-regarded” lightly: Dish, which originally opened more than five years ago in Cathedral City, made many “Best Of” lists thanks to Garcia-Colson’s amazing blend of classic technique and whimsy.

Given Garcia-Colson’s talent, it was inevitable that another door would open for her—and it did at Azucar, the restaurant at the La Serena Villas, at 339 S. Belardo Road, in downtown Palm Springs. She’s taken her former Dish sous chef with her, and we can’t wait to see what she does at Azucar; watch laserenavillas.com/azucar-restaurant-and-bar for updates.

Meanwhile, at the old Dish location, a door opened for Alebrije Bistro Mexico. The restaurant debuted on Valentine’s Day, featuring upscale Mexico City-style cuisine. That Valentine’s Day menu featured tasty treats like lamb stew, rib eye with mole de cadera, and—as an appetizer—a bone marrow thyme emulsion and shaved Parmesan.

Wow. We can’t wait to check out Alebrije ourselves. Watch the Alebrije Facebook page for updates.


New: The Craft Rancho Mirage Comes to The S at Rancho Mirage

The Desert Island Country Club, located at 71777 Frank Sinatra Drive, in Rancho Mirage, is now called The S at Rancho Mirage—and the restaurant inside the country club has been revamped and is now open to the public.

The restaurant is now The Craft Rancho Mirage. It’s being run by executive chef/partner Erick Hernandez, formerly of Escena and the Indian Canyons Golf Resort; and veteran food/beverage director John Trad.

“We are excited to invite folks into The S at Rancho Mirage Country Club to be able to have a ‘taste’ of the club life without the membership,” said John Trad in a press-release quote. “While there are so many fabulous restaurants in the valley, this specific area of Rancho Mirage is lacking in options, and we are thrilled to be able to open our doors to the general public to join us in an incredible setting.”

The menu features “fresh, high quality and locally sourced ingredients,” and includes entrées like shrimp scampi, sugar-and-spice salmon, and “The Gatsby”—blackened ahi tuna, zucchini pasta, heirloom tomatoes and wasabi beurre blanc. You’ll pay between $24 and $36 for your main course—or you can enjoy happy hour every weekday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the bar.

For more information, call 760-328-2111, or visit www.thesresort.com/dining.


In Brief

Help a new nonprofit organization get up and running, from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, March 23, at Pirch, 71905 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Not only can you learn about Alzheimer’s Coachella Valley’s mission, programs and services; you can enjoy hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and Pirch signature cocktails. Admission is $50; RSVP by March 9 at 760-776-3100 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. … Every year, TRIO Restaurant throws its much-anticipated “Hollywood’s Biggest Night” party during the Academy Awards, to benefit AAP-Food Samaritans. This year’s event starts at 4 p.m., Sunday, March 4; for $125 (bar seating) to $175 (VIP/premium seating), you’ll get a prix-fixe six-course dinner, well drinks, wine, champagne and the satisfaction that comes from helping out a great cause. Get tickets at aapfoodsamaritans.org or by calling 760-325-8481. … Coming soon to 170 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in the curve area of Palm Springs: Kreem Artisanal Ice Cream and Coffee. Keep your fingers crossed for an opening date here soon; watch www.facebook.com/ilovekreem for updates. … Newish to Indio: La Michoacana Real, serving up ice cream, raspados, juices and more at 81673 Highway 111; call 760-347-3939 to learn more. … Support the kids in Rancho Mirage High School’s CAFÉ Culinary Arts Department while trying their delicious creations from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 15. Admission is $10, and attendance is limited to 250 people—and these popular fundraisers often sell out. The school is located at 31001 Rattler Road; call the Thousand Palms Chamber of Commerce at 760-343-1988 to RSVP. Awesome! … And now for something else that’s awesome, albeit quite a bit more expensive: Citi Taste of Tennis takes place at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells from 7 to 10 p.m., Monday, March 5. For $200, you can enjoy cocktails and great cuisine while mingling with tennis greats and culinary giants, including Top Chef Richard Blais and Iron Chef Jose Garces, and local luminaries including Andrew Copley (Copley’s, AC3) and Engin Onural (The Venue, Sandfish). Get tickets at www.tasteoftennis.com/iw.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Comedy

Coachella Comedy/Improv Festival

A weekend celebration of improv and comedy! See improv teams and comics perform and compete! Visit the website for a complete schedule. 4 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 to $85. Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo Street, Indio. Coachellaimprovfest.weebly.com.

Film

Dive-in Movies at Wet ’N’ Wild

Dive-in Movies are included with park admission. Play during the day on Fridays, and stay late to enjoy a film poolside. The movies are intended to be family-friendly, but please use discretion. Movies will start after dusk, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. July 11: Frozen. July 18: The Amazing Spider-Man. July 25: The Lego Movie. Aug. 1: Grown-Ups 2. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

A selection of family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. June 30 through July 4: Turbo. July 7-11: Walking With Dinosaurs. July 14-18: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. July 21-25: Ice Age: Continental Drift. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: All the President’s Men

See how great books can turn into film classics! Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 23. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html

Moonlight Movies—Captain America: The First Avenger

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, July 11. Free; call for other Moonlight Movies events. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

Copa Events

Ross Mathews presents Jackie Beat, the world-famous drag superstar and comedy writer, at 8 p.m., Friday, July 4. $20 to $40. Amy and Freddy, headliners for 13 consecutive years with RSVP Vacations, perform at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19. $25 to $40. Copa. 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; coparoomtickets.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Saturday, July 5: Tribute to Queen. Saturday, July 12: Tribute to Bon Jovi. Call for information on other concerts. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy the Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. July 4: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Call for information on other dates. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Special Events

Independence Day Celebration Benefiting AAP

Join supporters of the AIDS Assistance Program at the legendary O’Donnell House for a dazzling celebration. The evening includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Valet parking provided. 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 4. $100; advancaae purchase required. The O'Donnell House, 412 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Lyfted Productions Presents Independence Fe5tival + UFC

The party features DJ LF and DJ Sean; and a carnival theme on the patio with a dunk tank, bungee pull, vodka snow cones and more. Come early to hang with the beautiful Kilt girls and watch the UFC fight on more than 40 big screens. 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5. $5 to $8. Tilted Kilt, 72191 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-773-5458; www.showclix.com/event/3855645.

Palm Springs Tattoo Convention

More than 75 top artists are tattooing all weekend. Live music and DJs plus drink specials are included, as are tattoo contests. Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 weekend pass. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9676; palmtreesandtattoos.com.

Seventh Annual Mid-Summer Dance Party

To celebrate the Desert AIDS Project’s 30th birthday, they’re throwing a party. The event features DJ sets by All Night Shoes and Femme A, and a special performance by Cameron Neilson from The X Factor. 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. $20 to $75. The Commune at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-992-0440; www.desertaidsproject.org.

Summer School: Poolside Art Workshops and Music

The Ace hosts its annual weekend of artist workshops, plus DJs and bands curated by School Night Los Angeles (KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s Matt Goldman). Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting

The exhibit includes art works purchased by the Palm Springs Art Museum with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council and other contributors since 1984. The acquisitions were created by contemporary artists who worked in California or were influenced by spending some time in California during their artistic careers. This is the first time these artworks have been on exhibition together. The exhibit is a celebration of the commitment of the Contemporary Art Council to growing the museum’s collection of significant contemporary artists, and is a survey of art in California since the 1980s. On display through Thursday, July 31. Included with museum admission (free to $12.50). Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Dance for Life Palm Springs, a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program, should be a spectacular show at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater on Friday, Jan. 17—but on Tuesday night (Jan. 14), one of the participating dance companies stopped by the Dance Dimensions studio in Palm Desert to offer local ballet students a workshop.

The workshop, put on by Las Vegas’ Nevada Ballet Theatre, was part of Dance for Life’s community outreach program, which offers students at local schools and dance studios a chance to work with professionals in the industry. Dance for Life is also holding free performances around the community—and even has planned a flash-mob performance at an undisclosed location.

“This is sort of an extension of Dance for Life,” said James Canfield, artistic director of the Nevada Ballet Theatre. “Any outreach and awareness that you can bring into a community enriches that community. It gives these kids an opportunity to work with professionals who are in this profession. It’s really about awareness, because funding in schools is stretched and limited—and the arts is one of the first things they drop, yet it’s been proven arts can increase self-esteem, discipline and focus. It can do things to help kids in a different way of learning.”

Olivia Frary, a 14-year-old from Palm Desert who is a ballet student at Dance Dimensions, was excited about the opportunity to take part in the workshop.

“I think it’s really awesome that we have the opportunity to work with them,” Frary said. “It’s a really great experience and something I’ll always remember—when the Nevada Ballet Theatre came to our dance studio in Palm Desert, California. It’s really important for dancers to see other dancers all the time, so you always have something to look up to, and someone to have as a role model.”

As the students of Dance Dimensions warmed up on balance bars on one side of the room, the Nevada Ballet Theatre warmed up on the other. Students showed signs of nervousness or intimidation—until one of the staff members encouraged them to mix it up with the pros.

To start the workshop, Canfield walked around and sized up all of the students as he introduced himself. He immediately asked, “What are the requirements to be a good dancer?”

Turns out he had already given the answers to them during a short warm-up exercise—and some of the students had already forgotten. “Coordination and balance,” he said.

Canfield’s calm teaching method reminded of a Zen master. He adjusted students’ posture positions, had them work on dance steps and cracked the occasional ballet-related joke.

“What’s your favorite children’s book?” he asked some of the students. “Snow White,” one of them answered.

“Without the dwarves? I see how it is,” Canfield joked.

When one student said The Giving Tree, Canfield acted elated, and said it was the answer he was seeking, explaining that the 1964 Shel Silverstein book offers a lesson that applies to ballet: You give your body to the art until your body cannot physically give any more.

Canfield stressed to the students that ballet goes beyond dancing; it also takes personality and emotion. Oliva Frary said that fact makes her love the art of ballet.

“It’s a really great way to express emotions, feelings, unique qualities and different ideas through movement without having to say any words,” Frary said.

By the end of the workshop, most of the students were tired; many of the students were not used to performing as long and as hard as they had. But despite the fatigue, they seemed happy: It was surely an experience that many of them will long remember.

Dance for Life, a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program, takes place at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs, at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $95. Performers are scheduled to include Giordano Dance Chicago, ENTITY Dance Company, Tap Sounds Underground and Los Angeles Ballet, in addition to the Nevada Ballet Theatre. For more information, call 760-325-8481, or visit aidsassistance.org.

Published in Theater and Dance