CVIndependent

Sun08252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

More than 80 people came to the Copa Nightclub on Wednesday, Dec. 12, with one goal: to celebrate the people, businesses and organizations that make the Coachella Valley a fantastic place to call home.

The Coachella Valley Independent and Copa Nightclub sponsored the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party, an event that honors the winners of the Independent's yearly readers' poll, which features almost 130 categories ranging from the best place to hike, to the valley's best restaurants, to the valley's best sex-toy shop. (Our readers say it's Skitzo Kitty, by the way.)

The biggest contingents at the party—hosted by Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle, with help from assistant editor Brian Blueskye—came to celebrate Barbara Carpenter, voted Best Real Estate Agent for the second year in a row, and Augustine Casino, which took the top spot in a whopping seven categories.

After the awards were given out, Best Local Band winner Avenida Music delighted the audience with a full set.

Below is a gallery of photos from the event, taken by Kevin Fitzgerald. In the media section, find the welcome video from Rep. Raul Ruiz, as well as a video of the event, courtesy of Tantalum Films. (Originally published on Dec. 13; updated with video Jan. 3.)

Published in Snapshot

This whole process started back in August, when voting began in the first round of the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll.

Now, after three months, two rounds of voting and ballots from more than 1,300 people, we’ve come to the glorious end of the process: Here are the results of the Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019!

From all of us here at the Independent: A huge, sincere thank you to all of the readers who voted. We realize that this is not an easy ballot to fill out—almost 130 categories is indeed a lot— but because you took the time to do so thoughtfully, the slate of winners and finalists presented here is truly impressive. It’s diverse; it’s valley-wide (even including representation of the high desert); and it shows how truly great the people, places, organizations and businesses are that call the Coachella Valley home.

Now, it’s time to celebrate. Please join us at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Copa Nightclub—your selection this year as Best Nightclub—244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs, for the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party. All of the winners present will receive certificates and have an opportunity to say thank you; after that, your Best Local Band selection, Avenida Music, will take the stage and perform. I hope to see you there.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

CODA Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Fine Art

3. Shag

4. Beatnik Lounge

5. Michael Weems Collection

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Show at Agua Caliente

3. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

4. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

4. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

5. Rancho Mirage Amphitheater

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. La Quinta Arts Foundation

4. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. CREATE Center for the Arts

 

Best Local Band

Avenida Music

 

Runners up:

2. Frank Eats the Floor

3. Mega Sun

4. The Flusters

5. Sunday Funeral

 

Best Local DJ

DJ Day

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Alex Harrington

DJ PWee

4. Sugarfree

5.Pedro Le Bass

 

Best Local Musician

Matt King

 

Runners up:

2. Giselle Woo

3. John Stanley King

4. Justin Ledesma

5. Nick Hales

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Elena Bulatova

3. Nancy Worthington

4. Cristopher Cichocki

5. Marconi Calindas

 

Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD

 

Runners up:

2. Mary Pickford Is D’Place

3. Century The River and XD

4. TIE

Camelot Theatres

Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Company

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Desert Ensemble Theatre Company

5. Coyote StageWorks

6. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group

Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Animal Shelter

3. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

4. Desert AIDS Project

5. L-Fund

 

Best Gym

World Gym

 

Runners up:

2. 24 Hour Fitness

3. EOS Fitness

4. Planet Fitness

5. In-Shape

 

Best Yoga

Urban Yoga

 

Runners up:

2. Power Yoga Palm Springs

3. Yoga Central

4. Bikram Yoga Plus

5. Bikram Yoga Palm Desert-El Paseo

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

4. Yucca Bowl

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Q Trading Co.

 

Best Auto Repair

Ramona Tire and Service Center

 

Runners up:

2. Andy’s Auto Repair

3. Lou’s Automotive

4. Downtown Shell Palm Springs

5. Singh’s Automotive Repair

 

Best Car Wash

Quick Quack Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Executive Car Wash

4. Airport Quick Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Pet Oasis

5. PoshPetCare

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Palm Springs Pride

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk (Desert AIDS Project)

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

4. Evening Under the Stars (AAP-Food Samaritans)

5. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

5. Haley Clawson, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Best Radio Station

Jammin’ 99.5

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. 93.7 KCLB

5. Big 106

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Q102.3/Big 106

3. Bill Feingold, KNews 94.3 FM

4. Randy Houston, The Big 106

5. Joey English, KGX 99.1 FM/920 AM

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Rancho Mirage Library Book Nook

The Book Rack La Quinta

4. Sagebrush Press

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

The Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Vista Music and Video

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Game Stop

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Comics

3. Comic Asylum

4. HooDoo!

 

Best Hotel Pool

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

 

Runners up:

2. The Saguaro

3. Riviera Palm Springs

4. Renaissance Palm Springs

5. Arrive

 

Best Urgent Care

Eisenhower Medical Center Urgent Care

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Urgent Care

3. Executive Urgent Care

4. TIE

Centro Medico Urgent Care

MedPost Urgent Care

 

Best Indoor Fun/Activity

Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Get Air Trampoline Park

3. Laser Oasis

4. Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Lisa Bodon

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Amanda Curnock

4. Dr. Geoffrey Block

5. Gennady “Henry” Nosovitsky, PA

 

Best Eye Care

Milauskas Eye Institute

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

3. Dr. Greg Evans (Evans Eyecare)

4. Old Town Optix and Optometry

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Hospitality Dental and Orthodontics

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Frank Hernandez (Hernandez Dental)

3. Dr. Larry Kunkle (Palm Desert Dental Center)

4. Dr. Natalie Le (Palm Springs Modern Dentistry)

5. Dr. Ray Cros (Cros Dental)

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Mark Sofonio

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Suzanne Quardt

4. Dr. Natalie Driessen

 

Best Attorney

Walter Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Barbara Barrett

3. Christopher Heritage

4. Emily Benjamini

5. James Jackson

 

Best Air Conditioning Service

TIE

Comfort Air

General Air Conditioning

 

Runners up:

3. Nexgen Air Conditioning and Heating

4. Blair Heating and Air

5. On Call Air Conditioning and Heating

 

Best Personal Trainer

Jaime Jimenez

 

Runners up:

2. Brandon Wertz

3. Ted Guice

4. Francisco Serrato

 

Best Chiropractor

Jim Cox

 

Runners up:

2. Daryl Richardson

3. Nazemi Chiropractic

4. Vincent Savarese

 

Best Real Estate Agent

Barbara Carpenter

 

Runners up:

2. Bob Ross

3. Paul Zapala

4. Valery Neuman

5. Michael Benthall

 

Best Electrician

Desert Pro Electrical

 

Runners up:

2. Hegge Electrical Contractors

3. Electrician4Hire

4. Collins Electrical Services

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta City Councilman Robert Radi

3. Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon

4. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

5. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Oooh La La

 

Runners up:

2. Bobby G’s

3. Trina Turk

4. Wil Stiles

5. Grayse

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

5. Unity Home

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Ashley HomeStore

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. West Elm

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

Misty’s Consignments

 

Runners up:

2. Victoria’s Attic

3. The Estate Sale Co.

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Brush Palm Springs

3. Dishwater Blonde Salon

4. Wondercuts Inc.

5. Alankara, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

 

Runners up:

2. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

3. Two Bunch Palms

4. Miracle Springs Resort and Spa

5. Feel Good Spa at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Revive Wellness Center

 

Runners up:

2. Studio M Salon and Spa

3. Desert Serenity Float and Spa

4. Bliss Chakra Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Indio Florist

3. The Flower Company

4. Mami’s Floral Boutique

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Bloodline Tattoo and Body Piercing

 

Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Oasis Tattoo and Body Piercing

4. Strata Tattoo Lab

5. Solid Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Milauskas Eye Institute

3. Desert Vision Optometry

4. America’s Best

5. Panache Optical Gallery


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten’s Botanical Garden

4. Shields Date Garden

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek Loop

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Palm Canyon Epic

 

Best Recreation Area

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

3. Tahquitz Canyon

4. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Canyon Trail

3. La Quinta Cove to Lake Cahuilla Trail

4. Ladder Canyon Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Sunrise Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

3. Tri-A-Bike

4. BikeMan

5. Pedego Electric Bikes

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Country Club

3. SilverRock Resort

4. The Lights at Indio GC

5. Classic Club Golf


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Demuth Park

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. Ironwood Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Target

 

Runners up:

2. Walmart

3. Mr. G’s Toys and Expressions

4. The Lumpy Bunny

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. The Children’s Place

3. Carter’s

4. Gap

5. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Shakey’s Pizza

3. Red Robin

4. Old Spaghetti Factory

5. Laser Oasis

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Boomers

3. Laser Oasis

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

3. Laser Oasis

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Eureka!

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

3. Katherine King Catering and Special Events

4. TRIO/Liquid Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Goody’s Cafe

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. Rick’s Restaurant

5. Sunshine Café

 

Best Organic Food Store

Trader Joe’s

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Whole Foods

5. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Real Italian Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

Runners up:

2. Over the Rainbow

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

5. Jensen’s Foods

 

Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. French Corner Café

5. Over the Rainbow

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Ben and Jerry’s

3. Great Shakes

4. Lappert’s Ice Cream

5. Kreem

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Oasis Date Gardens

4. Great Shakes

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Yogurtland

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Beach House

4. Jus Chillin’

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

TKB Bakery and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. French Corner Café

4. Carousel Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Jackalope Ranch

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Zobo and Meester’s

 

Best Burgers

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

Tyler’s Burgers

Grill A Burger

Eureka!

Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

4. TIE

Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Sandwich

TKB Bakery and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Real Italian Deli

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Piero’s PizzaVino

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Wingstop

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Bagels

Panera Bread

 

Runners up:

2. Townie Bagels

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Smoothies

TIE

Fresh Juice Bar

Jamba Juice

 

Runners up:

3. Juice It Up

4. Koffi

5. Palm Greens Café

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Local Coffee Roaster

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Coffee Co.

3. Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

Best Coffee Shop

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Joey Palm Springs

6. Sip Coffee House and Juice Bar

 

Best Breakfast

Broken Yolk Café

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. Wilma and Frieda’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Rick’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Acqua California Bistro

3. Kaiser Grille

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms

 

Best Brunch

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Wilma and Frieda’s

3. Broken Yolk Cafe

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. City Wok

4. Bobby Mao’s Chinese Kitchen and Bar

5. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Athena Gyro

4. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

5. Koutouki Greek Estiatoro

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. L’Atelier Café

4. Cuistot Restaurant

5. Joey Palm Springs

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Sam’s Indian Food and Pizza

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Ciro’s Ristorante and Pizzeria

4. Il Corso

5. Venezia Restaurant and Pizzeria

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Shogun Restaurant

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Otori Japanese Cuisine

 

Best Korean

Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. Umami Seoul

 

Best Sushi

Dragon Sushi

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Sam’s Sushi

4. Misaki Sushi and Grill

5. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Roy’s

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

Runners up:

2. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

4. The Steakhouse at the Spa Resort Casino

5. Chop House at Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. My Thai

3. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

4. Le Basil

5. Thai House

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. 533 Viet Fusion

4. Fuzion Five

5. Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

4. Wildest Greens

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Upscale Dining

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Morton’s The Steakhouse

3. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

4. Wally’s Desert Turtle

5. Johannes

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Spencer’s Restaurant

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Eureka!

4. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rincon Norteno

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Pueblo Viejo

 

Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Chipotle

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Blanca


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. The Beer Hunter

4. Eureka!

5. Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Best Local Brewery

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Billiards

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Red Barn

 

Best Cocktail Menu

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Tonga Hut

4. Seymour’s

5. Truss and Twine

 

Best Craft Cocktails

TRIO Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Bootlegger Tiki

3. Seymour’s

4. Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms

5. Truss and Twine

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar Palm Springs

3. Hunters

4. Blackbook

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Happy Hour

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. La Quinta Cliffhouse

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Red Barn

4. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails

5. Score

 

Best Margarita

TIE

Las Casuelas Terraza

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

3. Blue Coyote Grill

4. El Mirasol

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Purple Room Palm Springs

5. Zin American Bistro

 

Best Nightclub

Copa Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. The Nest

3. Zelda’s

4. Hunters

5. Costa’s Nightclub at the JW Marriott Desert Springs

 

Best Sports Bar

TIE

The Beer Hunter

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

3. Big Rock Pub

4. Playoffs Sports Bar

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Wine Bar

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. La Fe Wine Bar

3. Dead or Alive

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

BevMo!

 

Runners up:

2. Total Wine and More

3. Desert Wines and Spirits (Go Deli)

4. The Wine Emporium

5. Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Dead or Alive

4. Paul Bar/Food

5. Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

Published in Readers' Picks

The November 2018 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent—our annual Pride Issue—is hitting streets this week.

But before I discuss all of the great stuff you’ll find therein … an apology: Election Day 2018 is almost here—and I am not happy with how we’ve covered things this year.

It’s not a matter of quality; I am satisfied with the coverage that we have done. The amount of election coverage we’ve published has been substantial. Locally, we’ve covered the Desert Hot Springs city election; the Palm Desert city election; the District 28 Senate race between Joy Silver and Jeff Stone; the already-decided District 4 Riverside County Board of Supervisors seat; and the already-decided Rancho  Mirage city election. We’ve also done some coverage on election matters involving Desert Healthcare District and the city of Indio, and soon, we will have coverage of the Cathedral City election posted. Finally, we’ve published a fair amount of state election news from our partners at CALmatters.

While that is a lot of election coverage … it’s not enough. As the calendar turned from 2017 to 2018, we set an internal goal of covering all local city elections taking place this year, and we failed. I am embarrassed that we didn’t get to covering the city elections in La Quinta, Coachella and Indian Wells. I also wish we’d have been able to do more state coverage—but we just ran out of time and resources.

For that, I apologize. We need to do better, and we are exploring ways to improve moving forward.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Our special Pride print section includes two stories directly relating to the Greater Palm Springs Pride events taking place in November, and two stories regarding fantastic LGBT-related events happening later in the month. (Speaking of Palm Springs Pride: We’ll be at the festival both days—Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 and 4—giving out newspapers and swag, so please stop by and say hello.)

Beyond the Pride stories, we have been doing a lot of other great stuff, from our annual list of Censored Stories—important national and international stories that were under-covered by the mainstream press—to fantastic arts, food and music coverage.

I hope you enjoy what we’re doing. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or input.

One more thing … Happy Pride!

Published in Editor's Note

This Pride, the lesbians in Palm Springs have scheduled tons of fun!

But first, a little background.

The first official “Dyke March” event in the United States was part of the 1993 LGBT March on Washington, D.C. It boasted around 20,000 lesbians—and the women who marched got inspired and energized. Later that year, New York and San Francisco had their first Dyke Marches, and today, they’re held in various places, including Palm Springs.

By the way, try not to get hung up on the fact that this was started by and continues to be led by women who are proud to call themselves “dykes.” This event is designed for all women-loving-women, and every kind of human who loves women is welcome! And dogs, too!

I was lucky enough to be at the ’93 marches in Washington and San Francisco. There were markers and paints and big poster boards to make your own signs. I remember wandering around the National Mall, looking at the signs other women were making, and then plopping down in the grass to make my own. 

This brings us to today. Over the last few years, the lesbian community in Palm Springs has made great headway in organizing their own business and entertainment opportunities. The now-4-year-old Dyke March, for example, has grown from a mini-march into two days of events. This year, it all starts with a picnic, rally and march during Greater Palm Springs Pride, on Saturday, Nov. 3, from noon to 4 p.m., at Frances Stevens Park. That’s between Indian Canyon and Palm Canyon drives at Alejo Road. Bring a blanket, and stake your claim on the grass for a picnic with simple, catered lunches available for $5 (cash only). You can also bring your own feast—and make everyone else jealous! Sprawl out in the dreamy sunshine to enjoy an afternoon of women’s music, dance, speeches and comedy—with me as the emcee. There will be shade tents and some chairs and tables, in case you’re not the sprawling-out-on-the-grass type!

Also at the park: Lighting up the dance floor will be young DJ Ash, from Los Angeles, spinning so you can tea-dance your hearts out. A local favorite dance teacher, Jan Alden, will even teach a couple of country-Western line-dance lessons. This is a kid-friendly day, so plan to bring the whole family, as there will be fun and games … and face painting! Joanne Thompson will lead a drum circle, so bring your instruments, too.

Between music and raffles, you’ll hear brief yet brilliant speakers, including spoken word from Nalani Hernandez-Melo, a founder of the Wyld Womxn Collective. Also on the schedule: a melodious tease from Sweet Baby J’ai as she lures you to the Sunday Lesbo Expo Launch Party. (More on that in a bit.) Leslie Price, a lead nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood, will share insights on women’s health, and the ever-powerful orator Kate Kendell, who led the National Center for Lesbian Rights for more than 20 years, will rally a bit of energy as we’re about to march. Finally, there will be a few words from Bella Barkow, a producer of Lezathlon, the largest and intentionally most ridiculous lesbian sporting event in the world! (We’re hoping to convince her to bring one of their lesbian “field days” here to Palm Springs next year.) 

The short march to the Pride Festival area will step off from Frances Stevens Park at 4 p.m.

Later that night, you can dance the night away at the L-Fund’s annual Women's Pride Dance in the ballroom at Hotel Zoso, at 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, with DJ T-LA Storm. Tickets are $20 in advance at www.l-fund.org, or $30 at the door. All are welcome!

On Sunday, women can show up—first come, first served—to watch the Pride parade from the patio of the not-quite-reopened Alibi Room, at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive. Drinks and catered eats will be available for purchase. When the parade has passed, stick around on the patio for a free drag king show with emcee Jesse Jones and the Inland Empire Kings: King Phantom, King Caux and Sir Labia.

The headliners and big names can be found after the parade inside at the Lesbo Expo Launch Party, from 1 to 4 p.m. This ticketed event includes awards, music, comedy, a taco bar and beer, all for $30. The superstar show features acclaimed comedian/emcee Marga Gomez from San Francisco, and a short concert with Sweet Baby J'ai and her Women in Jazz All-Stars from Los Angeles.

Kate Kendell will receive the Legacy Award; other honorees include Susan Unger, the project director at Get Tested Coachella Valley; Lucy and Gail, producers of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival; and Michelle Castillo, co-founder of Wyld Womxn Collective. A special Palm Springs City Council resolution will also be presented by Councilwoman Lisa Middleton to Lynn Segerblom, a co-creator of the original pride flag. The whole event will serve as an introduction by the Palm Springs Dyke March Steering Committee to the planned day-long Lesbo Expo, slated for Pride in 2019.

As a young comedian, waiting on the National Mall at the first Dyke March in ’93, I was intimidated by the strong emotions voiced on many of the signs. I finally drew flowers and peace signs around the words, “Issue-Free Dyke!” Through the whole parade, lesbians yelled back at me: “No such thing!”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/psdykemarch.

Published in Local Fun

In 2010, Ron deHarte joined the Greater Palm Springs Pride board of directors. He’d soon become the president of the board—and under his leadership, the Pride festival has grown from a fun but quaint event at Sunrise Stadium into a huge, weekend long party downtown.

In fact, it’s now the second-largest Pride festival in the state of California. Greater Palm Springs Pride events last year attracted an estimated 140,000 people—with a direct $24 million impact on the Coachella Valley.

This year’s festival, on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 and 4, will again be in downtown Palm Springs—but it’s being moved off Palm Canyon Drive, and into the redevelopment area around the Palm Springs Art Museum.

We recently spoke to deHarte about the changes to this year’s festival—and what it means to celebrate LGBTQ pride in the Trump era.

Tell me a little about the changes that are occurring to Greater Palm Springs Pride this year.

The biggest change that people are going to see is that the festival is located in a new area in downtown, between Palm Canyon (Drive) and the mountain, from Tahquitz Canyon (Way) to Andreas (Drive). There will be two stages in there. All the exhibitor booths will be in there, as will a new PSP Village VIP space, which doesn’t require a ticket; everybody’s welcome. … Sober in the Sun is hosting an area for folks in the sober community. They’ll be able to have a space to hangout, and enjoy company of friends, and watch the entertainment on the big museum stage there. We will also have the Art of Pride, which is coming back. We haven’t had Art of Pride since we were in the ballpark years ago.

What was the reason for moving the festival off Palm Canyon Drive and back toward the museum?

The biggest reason is cost. To keep Palm Canyon closed for the amount of time we did, our costs are fairly significant in order to do that. Right now, our fees (from the city) are projected to be higher than what support the city of Palm Springs offers us from in-kind sponsorship, so that means Pride has to write a check to the city. … Those costs continue to rise, so one of the cost-saving measures that we were exploring was being able to locate the festival in the new city park space, and really start to see how we can use that space as the years go on. … This is just a first move to be in that area, and to keep Palm Canyon open for all the businesses and merchants, while at the same time cutting the costs for the Pride organization, which is important, because we want to stay free. We want to continue to be a free event, which just doesn’t happen in Southern California with other large festivals. We’re accessible and open to everyone. There are no financial barriers for people to come and participate and enjoy the day with their friends, and family, and coworkers—whoever it may be.

How do you feel seeing Pride going from where it was, at Sunrise Stadium in 2013, to where it is now—the second-largest Pride festival in California?

I think what we’re seeing is (part of) this renaissance of Palm Springs in general. Pride in Palm Springs has always been known as a friendly, laid-back pride, where people can come and just have a good time with their friends. What is most gratifying is to see that by moving downtown and being accessible to our entire community, attendance has increased significantly. … The number of women participating is not quite 50 percent, but we’re in the 40s, and we’re seeing a lot of families come and participate and spend time at the Pride festival. We’re seeing a lot of elderly couples come in, both LGBT and straight couples. … Sixty-plus percent (of attendance) last year was from out of town (visitors) at official events. Almost every state in the union was represented by folks coming into Palm Springs during Pride weekend.

How much money does Pride need to raise to put on the parade and the festival, and keep it free?

A direct, hard cost of the parade is going to be around $70,000 or $80,000. Participants (in the parade) do help cover that cost by paying an entry fee. Those donations will cover maybe about $15,000 of the $80,000 total cost. The parade is not a money-making event for the Pride organization; it’s all about bringing the community together in celebration and protest and raising awareness and educating. That’s what is really important. But it certainly comes at a huge cost, so we have to raise those funds in other ways, through sponsorships and other events.

Overall … we’re around $800,000 or $900,000 for Pride week activities (in terms of costs), so all of that money has to be raised through our partnerships, corporate support, and financial support through sponsorships. Exhibitors help. We have what we call a bucket brigade; we ask folks attending to put a buck or two in the bucket to keep Pride free.

Why has Palm Springs Pride grown and thrived, whereas in a lot of other cities, Prides are having tough times?

We have a reputation of being a friendly and fun festival. We’re so close to Los Angeles and San Diego and Long Beach; it’s just a quick two-hour trip for people. For a lot of people, it’s the last weekend before the holiday season begins, and it’s a great little getaway to have a good time in Palm Springs. … A lot of people have second houses here, so people have places to stay. There are a lot of free events, so it’s not going to bust people’s pocketbooks. When you travel to some of these other cities and have to pay $30 or $40 in admission just to the festival, that starts to take a bite out of your pocketbook.

What kind of meaning does Pride have now, given the political environment that we’re in—specifically, the Trump administration and a Supreme Court that may not be as friendly to gay marriage and other LGBT issues?

A Pride event is a platform to help educate a community, and raise awareness on a variety of issues. Some people use that platform as a form of celebration, and liberation, and empowerment. We strongly encourage people to use the platform to share their voices and raise issues that are important to them. Pride is many things to many people, and at the end of the day, we look at it as a platform to raise awareness and be a voice for the community. The community is the one who speaks the voice, and addresses the issues, and we encourage that.

Over the last several years, we’ve gone from having one local Pride festival—that, of course, being Greater Palm Springs Pride—to now, I think there are four. There’s Diversity DHS; there’s Eastern Coachella Valley Pride; there’s Cat City LGBT Days. What do you think about that?

The good news is that (the LGBT community is progressing) throughout the valley. To be able to see events with Pride themes popping up in, for example, the east valley is really a great sign of that progress. We may not always see progress directly, but when you see Pride events like this popping up, that is a direct sign of progress within communities, and city councils and business communities becoming more supportive, open and accepting. They all come back to bringing the community together to raise awareness on issues of equality and social justice, and focusing on making this area a better place for everyone.

Published in Local Issues

Greater Palm Springs Pride has featured a variety of fun musical acts over the years—but none have been more fun than GayC/DC, which will be playing at Pride for the third year in a row on Sunday, Nov. 5, on the U.S. Bank Stage.

During a recent phone interview, lead vocalist Chris Freeman—also the bassist/vocalist of the legendary queercore band Pansy Division—said Los Angeles-based GayC/DC came about as a result of his participation in an all-male tribute band to the Go-Gos called the Gay-Gays. He told a fascinating tale about how he met one of the band’s guitarists, Steve McKnight.

“We weren’t really working or doing anything, and our singer said, ‘I’m done. I don’t really want to do anything anymore, and I’m kind of tired of it,’” Freeman said. “(The rest of us) thought, ‘What else could we do with the word “gay” in there?’ Our guitar player, Karl (Rumpf), suggested GayC/DC. I stopped and went, ‘Hey, that’s not a bad idea!’ I took the name and ran with it. A logo and all that stuff came really quick. It sort of wrote itself.

“I was the bass-player, and I thought, ‘Well, we’ll get a singer, and we need a guitar-player too.’ So I was looking through Daddyhunt,” Freeman said with a laugh, “and I saw a picture of this guy who was really handsome who played guitar. It wasn’t like I was looking at him like he was hot or anything, but I clicked on his profile, and I sent him a message. He lived in Torrance, and I asked if he was interested in playing guitar. I knew Glen (Pavan) was available and knew he should play bass, because I’ve known Glen for a long time and knew he was a big KISS fan. It worked out.”

Freeman said he didn’t originally plan on handling vocal duties for GayC/DC.

“We couldn’t find anybody to sing. I tried all sorts of people, and no one was willing to do it,” he said. “I thought this idea was too good, and I thought I’d give it a shot. I said to the band, ‘I’ll do it, but you have to audition me. Try me out like anyone else, because I want to make sure it’s right.’ After the audition, they said, ‘You’re in! Let’s do it!’

“It’s been difficult to do the lead-singer thing, because I’ve always identified as a bass-player and a songwriter. I never saw myself as a David Lee Roth. It’s a stretch for me to do this, but it’s working. It does require me to sort of change into this person, because it’s not really me. One of my favorite people is Alice Cooper, who was one of my rock-star crushes—not that I want to have sex with him or anything, but I was into Alice Cooper and Elton John when I was 13.”

Growing up in Seattle, Freeman said he became a fan of AC/DC during his teens.

“I always heard AC/DC stuff on FM radio, and it was stuff my brothers would listen to—some of the early stuff like ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top,’” Freeman said. “One night on the radio, they played the entire Let There Be Rock album when it came out. It was just before I was 16. I was blown away, and I was a fan instantly. That album to this day is my favorite AC/DC album. It’s got everything on it.

“But then I started to realize I was different, and I was probably gay, but I didn’t know yet—and then I started realizing that guys wearing AC/DC shirts … were the guys who would beat me up. So I didn’t go that direction. Within a year or two after that album came out, I was going to punk shows which were all-ages, and that’s where all the misfits were and the people who got beat up. When I would see there would be an AC/DC show, I’d think, ‘I’m not going to that show! I’m a target if I go to that show!’”

Freeman said the most interesting show GayC/DC has played to date was for a rather small group of people.

“We just recently played for a small theater company,” he said. “They were having some kind of improv party. This guy told us, ‘I want you to come in and play for 20 minutes in a small theater where they never have rock bands! You’re just going to walk in and be amped and kick their ass.’ Well, we did, and it was so much fun. … The PA system was where they were standing and talking on the mic—that’s what I was singing into. It was so loud and distorted. It was such a fun show, though. We played five songs and were done.”

Freeman said he was pleasantly surprised to again get the call for GayC/DC to play at Greater Palm Springs Pride.

“I’m shocked! The crowd in 2015 was the biggest crowd to this date that we’ve ever played for,” he said. “I’m expecting it’s going to be more that size this year than it was last year. Last year was a bit of a drag, because it was split between two stages. I actually played with three bands last year: I played in Pansy Division; I played in GayC/DC; and I played with this guy named Devin Tait, and I’ll be joining him again this year for a tribute to Bananarama called Boynanarama on Saturday.”

GayC/DC will perform at 1:15 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 5, at the U.S. Bank Stage on Arenas Road during Greater Palm Springs Pride. Admission is free. For more information, visit PSPride.org.

Published in Previews

Last week, the Independent published the final ¡Ask a Mexican! column, as penned by my friend and colleague Gustavo Arellano.

I was shocked on Oct. 13 when I got the news that Arellano—a longtime OC Weekly scribe who had served as the paper’s editor and spokesperson for many years—had stepped down. He quit, he said, because he refused to lay off half of his staff, and the owner would not accept any of Arellano’s counter-proposals (one of which included cutting Gustavo’s own salary in half).

At first, I fully expected Gustavo’s column to continue on in some form, albeit with a different name than ¡Ask a Mexican!, because the OC Weekly owns the rights to the name. In fact, in the version of this column that ran in the November print edition, I said the column would probably continue, as that was what I’d been told. However, after we went to press, Gustavo let me know the column would indeed end; he explained the decision in the final column, which ran last week. While I understand the decision, it breaks my heart. It was a fantastic column—and the first “regular” feature to ever start running at CVIndependent.com, way back when we were in beta five-plus years ago.

As for Gustavo’s plight … this is how it often goes at newspapers these days. While I have no inside knowledge of the OC Weekly’s financials, I do know that many layoffs at newspapers over the last 15-plus years have happened not because the publications were losing money—but because profits weren’t high enough.

This fact is one of the reasons I decided to leave my job as the editor of the Tucson Weekly in 2012, and then start the Independent here. The then-owners of the Tucson Weekly, Wick Communications, treated both me and the newspaper very well during my decade-long tenure there—but I knew that wouldn’t last forever. Sure enough, a little more than a year after I departed, Wick sold the Tucson Weekly—and the paper has been subjected to serious budget cuts ever since.

As bleak as all of this sounds … there is reason for hope. Last weekend, a number of my colleagues gathered in Chicago for the annual Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) Summit. (Unfortunately, I was unable to attend.)

LION is a vibrant and growing organization of mostly newer, mostly online local-news organizations across the country. Almost all of us “LIONs” are small, scrappy and hardworking. Oh, and one more thing: We’re innovating. We’re finding new ways to tell our communities’ stories. And we’re investing in our publications rather than making cuts to keep shareholders or wealthy owners happy.

Gustavo Arellano is a gifted, hustling hard-worker who will land on his feet, so I am not worried about him. I’m also upbeat about the future of journalism. However, I am saddened by the huge loss that Orange County will suffer as a result of the decline of its independent alternative newspaper, the OC Weekly.

As for that aforementioned November print edition: It’s our annual Pride Issue. It’s on newsstands throughout the Coachella Valley right now—and we will be at the Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival this coming weekend. Come say hi! Thanks for reading, as always, and don’t hesitate to contact me with comments or questions.

Published in Editor's Note

After the 2016 election saw Donald Trump and Mike Pence take the White House, LGBT movements across the country have made some 2017 pride celebrations much more political.

However, this year’s Greater Palm Springs Pride, taking place Nov. 3-5, will be just like it has been in recent years. However, don’t be surprised if some of the participants take on more of a political, Trump-resisting tone.

Greater Palm Springs Pride president Ron deHarte said he’s definitely noticed a heightened political tone at some pride celebrations.

“There may be a few places where the ‘resist’ movement took a greater voice in the city over traditional pride marches or celebrations,” deHarte said. “Those, compared to the hundreds of pride events that occur across the country, have been few versus a majority.

“What we’re seeing is that there is a need to raise awareness across the country and prevent the LGBT voice from disappearing. In the case of Palm Springs, our parade and festival always (offer) an opportunity for anyone who participates to share their political statement, and share what’s important to them, and raise awareness for the issues of the day for that individual or group. We’re encouraging all participants to make their case, whatever that may be.”

The guidelines to participate in Greater Palm Springs Pride have not changed much over the years, deHarte said.

“We always state in our guidelines—and this has not changed since 2010—that what we encourage the community to do is celebrate the diversity of our community; share their radical or non-radical politics; show their support for equal rights for all individuals in our community and around the globe; share their artistic and sexual expression; and be proud. That’s what we encourage folks to do when they’re participating. That comes out when you watch the parade go by.”

DeHarte said that today in the Trump era, people who wouldn’t previously participate in Pride and other movements are now taking part.

“In California, the state voted in another direction, and I’m not sure we’re going to see any different attitudes come up,” he said. “I think we have a very outspoken community, and the community has become very politically active since the election with a number of rallies and marches that have occurred in downtown Palm Springs. I would anticipate we’ll see that continue, and I think it’s great, because people have gone to these rallies and events, and we’re seeing people who don’t normally participate come out and participate. … We’re going to have increased participation from people who may not have been involved in the political process. That’s a good a thing.”

The theme of this year’s Pride is “Viva la vida!”

“Each year, there’s a worldwide theme selected by the international pride organization called InterPride, and through the years, Palm Springs has adopted the worldwide theme occasionally—maybe just a handful of times over the past 30 years,” deHarte said. “This year, we adopted the worldwide theme in support of the movement around the world—in particular, to show support for our brothers and sisters in Central and South America.”

Palm Springs Pride continues to grow each year—dramatically so since the festival was moved from Sunrise Park to downtown in 2014. Attendance-wise, Palm Springs Pride is now the second-largest in the state, behind only San Francisco Pride.

“We’re no longer hidden behind the backdrop of a baseball field and the fences surrounding the baseball diamond over in Sunrise Park,” deHarte said. “We are as visible as you can be in downtown Palm Springs, and that says a lot for our community and for the city of Palm Springs, which has embraced the Pride Week activities to allow the festival and the parade, which causes the largest street closure annually in Palm Springs. … We have a larger presence today. That awareness is what we really strive for—increasing awareness for the LGBT movement and issues important to the folks promoting equality for all individuals.”

For more information, visit PSPride.org.

Published in Features

What better way to rev up Greater Palm Springs Pride than with a play about a struggling Elvis impersonator who finds great success … as a drag queen?

That was the thinking of Dezart Performs artistic director Michael Shaw when he chose The Legend of Georgia McBride—a play he described as heartwarming and “funny as heck”—as the opening production of the theater’s 10th anniversary season.

The Legend of Georgia McBride debuted in 2015 and has been performed successfully several times, including runs in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dezart is using the costumes from the San Francisco production—and costuming has been very challenging, Shaw said. There are three drag-queen characters, requiring a total of 19 wigs and 20 dresses. The staging, including multiple lip-synced musical numbers, has also posed a challenge on Dezart’s relatively small stage at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club.

The story revolves around Casey (aka Georgia McBride), a beleaguered young Elvis impersonator who is barely making a living. Bill collectors are calling, and Casey has just learned that his young wife, Jo, is pregnant. Then he loses his Elvis gig at a run-down Florida bar; the owner, Eddie, brings in a mediocre drag queen named Rexy as the new entertainment. When Rexy gets too drunk to perform one night, his companion Tracy tutors Casey on the finer points of female impersonation—and a star is born.

Shaw says he easily cast the roles of Casey (Sean Timothy Brown), Jo (Brianna Maloney) and Eddie (Chet Cole) right here in the desert; the two more-seasoned drag-queen characters, Rexy (Hanz Enyeart) and Tracy (Michael Mullen), were harder to find.

“I auditioned several excellent drag queens here in the valley—and there are some darned good ones—but there is some serious dramatic acting required in this play, and being a fabulous drag queen wasn’t quite enough.” Shaw said.

So far, the cast has meshed well. “They adore each other!” Shaw said.

When asked what is unique about this play, Shaw paused. “Casey is a lost young man; he throws himself into Elvis and other characters because he really doesn’t know who he is. Casey hides behind the other personas because they are more together than he is. He is a man-child who cannot even balance his checkbook.” However, Tracy takes Casey under his wing and makes him an amazing drag queen—and a better person, too.

Just two years out of high school, young Brianna Maloney said she is thrilled to be performing in her first play with Dezart Performs. She did quite a bit of musical theater at Palm Springs High School with David Green, who introduced her to Shaw. Brianna calls her character, Jo, “the boss” in the marriage with Casey. Jo loves her husband, but she is frustrated by his irresponsibility. She knows the Elvis thing is his passion—but it’s not paying the bills, which is an even bigger problem now that a baby is coming. Still, she gets a kick out of Casey’s Elvis performances, and to some degree lives vicariously through him.

Sean Timothy Brown calls his character, Casey, a simpleton. ”He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” Brown said. But Casey is passionate about performing, and loves being onstage. He takes to the drag stuff quickly, and finds that “Georgia McBride” has traits he wishes he had himself.

Brown—who had never done drag before this show—worked with Shaw previously in the cast of Dezart’s production of Clybourne Park. Local audiences have also seen him in Bad Jews, by Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, and as Daddy Warbucks in Palm Springs High School’s recent production of Annie.

Shaw says that with all of the musical numbers, The Legend of Georgia McBride is unlike anything Dezart has ever done. There is no particular theme to this year’s 10th anniversary season, which will be celebrated with an anniversary party and fundraising event hosted by Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge on Sunday, Jan. 14.

Shaw said he’s looking forward to starting the season on Pride weekend with The Legend of Georgia McBride.

“It’s a play with a heart of gold,” Shaw said. “It’s so much fun!”

Dezart Performs’ The Legend of Georgia McBride will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, Nov. 3, through Sunday, Nov. 12, at the Pearl McManus Theater at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $40 for opening night with a post-show reception; $32 for evening performances; and $28 for matinees. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-0179, or visit www.dezartperforms.org.

Published in Theater and Dance

When residents of the Coachella Valley joined many, many thousands of visitors from around the globe last year to celebrate Greater Palm Springs Pride, the mood was decidedly mixed.

On one hand, the year 2015 had brought us arguably the greatest LGBT-rights legal victory ever: full marriage equality in all 50 states.

On the other hand, we were reeling from the news that just days before Pride—mere feet from the site of the Pride enclosure on Arenas Road—George Zander, a prominent LGBT-rights activist that so many of us knew and loved, had been gay-bashed along with his husband, Chris, after leaving Hunters Nightclub.

Fortunately, George’s prognosis was good, although he faced a lengthy and grueling rehabilitation process after injuries including a broken hip.

As 2016’s Greater Palm Springs Pride approaches, the mood of locals and visitors alike is decidedly less joyous than it was a year ago.

In the months since last year’s Pride, the LGBT community has found itself under attack. Horrifying new laws in some states are targeting the rights of transgender men and women to simply be able to go to the bathroom safely. The Republican presidential ticket has come out staunchly against the nationwide marriage equality we all celebrated so joyously when we gained the right a year and a half ago. And most horrifically of all, a shooter—perhaps conflicted by his own sexuality—killed 49 revelers, and injured dozens of more, late one June night at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

As for George Zander: Many of us gathered earlier this week in downtown Palm Springs for a candlelight vigil to mourn his passing last December. That good prognosis we all clung to with hope during last year’s Pride turned out to be woefully incorrect. 

As we get together for Greater Palm Springs Pride 2016, we’ll deal with all of the emotions of the last year—sadness, mourning, anger and, yes, joy, too—with the help of art, just as our fellow humans have done for millennia.

We’ll march. We’ll play and listen to music. We’ll dance. We’ll revel in art. We’ll act and become engrossed in story at the theater.

And we’ll hope that by the time Greater Palm Springs Pride 2017 rolls around, we’ll have a lot less to mourn—and a lot more to celebrate.

Published in Editor's Note

Page 1 of 3