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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

I’m a 30-year-old, Asian-American, hetero-flexible, cis woman. I’m also newly diagnosed with bipolar II. I’m on medication—the doctor is trying to figure that out—but no talk therapy for right now, as my last therapist wasn’t great, and I haven’t managed to find a new one.

My question for you is regarding the relationship between bipolar and kink. One of the common symptoms of the manic stage of bipolar is “risky sex.” I equate risk with “likely to blow up one’s personal or professional life” and have always answered “no” to that question when asked by doctors. I’ve had the occasional hookup, but otherwise I’ve consistently had sex in the context of closed, monogamous relationships, i.e., the opposite of risky sex. However, it recently occurred to me that I’m fairly kinky (BDSM, role play). Nothing I’d consider a varsity-level kink, but what do I know? I have out-there fantasies that are varsity level, but I’ve never done them.

Am I just bipolar and kinky? Are the two related somehow? Should I be concerned that I’ll go into a manic state and start enacting (or trying to enact) some of the varsity-level fantasies in my head?

By the way: I asked my doctor this via e-mail, but I haven’t heard back yet and have no idea how sex-positive he is. So I thought I’d get a second opinion. Also: I’m currently manic enough that it’s hard for me to edit, so there may be weird/confusing shit in my letter. Sorry for that!

Kinky And Bipolar

“I’d like to congratulate KAB for seeking help and for the work she’s doing to get stable,” said Ellen Forney, author of Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, an award-winning self-help guide to maintaining stability, and the best-selling graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. “I’d also like to welcome KAB to BIPOLAR! Toot! Toot! Confetti!”

The specific manic-stage symptom you’re concerned about—engaging in super-risky sex—is called “hypersexuality,” and it’s what happens when the extremely poor judgment match meets the supercharged libido gas.

“But it’s only ‘hypersexuality’ when it gets in the way of a reasonably well-functioning life,” said Forney. “Picture masturbating all day instead of going to work, or having relationship-wrecking affairs or unprotected sex with strangers.”

If your diagnosis is correct, and you have bipolar II and not bipolar I, KAB, you may be less susceptible to out-of-control hypersexuality.

“Strictly speaking, a bipolar II diagnosis means she cycles between ‘hypomania’ (mild mania) and depression,” said Forney, “so her highs aren’t going to be as acute as they would be for someone diagnosed with bipolar I, where hypersexuality can really get dangerous.”

Forney warns that misdiagnoses are not uncommon where bipolar is concerned, so you might want to get your diagnosis confirmed. But your long-standing kinks all by themselves—varsity and otherwise—aren’t necessarily related to your condition, KAB, and as long as they’re safely expressed and explored, you aren’t doing anything unreasonably risky or wrong.

“Kinky sex in itself doesn’t count as symptom-worthy risky sex—no matter what her doctor e-mails back,” said Forney. “Like for anyone else, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with feeling uninhibited enough to pursue varsity-level kinks, so long as they’re not putting her or anyone else in danger. Ultimately, KAB’s goal is to be stable enough to trust her judgment. For now, she might weigh the risks while she’s feeling stable, so she can make some levelheaded decisions about what might or might not be too risky.”

Forney also recommends having a discussion with your partners and friends about what your limits are—a discussion you’ll want to have when you’re not horny nor manic nor both.

“That way, her partners and friends can help her recognize if she’s crossing her own lines,” said Forney. “And realizing that she’s suddenly tempted to cross her own lines could be a signal to her that she’s getting hypomanic and needs to take steps to stabilize—steps like getting better sleep, adjusting her meds and others I explore in Rock Steady!”

Also: If your doctor won’t answer your sex questions—or only gives you unhelpful, sex-negative, kink-shaming answers—find yourself a new doctor. And there are letters I have to read three times before I can figure out what the fuck is going on. Your letter was as lucid as it was charming.

Therapists across the country are recommending Rock Steady to their patients with mood disorders, and Forney won a Media Partner Award from the National Alliance for Mental Illness for her work on Rock Steady and Marbles. If you haven’t already, KAB, please pick up Forney’s books. You’ll benefit from her insights, her advice and her coping strategies. And thanks to Forney’s art and sense of humor, both books are a delight to read.


I am 36 and female, and I’ve been with my current boyfriend for seven years. We were friends for four years before we started dating. He is very slow at making decisions and not a risk-taker, and I am somewhat opposite of that. I think there are times when you need to take a leap of faith, and if it turns out it was a mistake, you learn and grow from it.

We lived together on his family’s property the first six years after I moved to his hometown. He’s waiting in hopes that the property gets handed down to him. I don’t live my life in hopes that something will happen that’s out of my control, so I purchased my own home. He moved in. We have not split all costs in half, because he said he needs to take care of the other home. It’s been six months, and I’m growing impatient for him to commit. We’ve had several conversations, and I’ve given him until the end of the year to decide if we should go our separate ways. I said if we are going to be together, we need to be a team and support each other. He was actually taken aback because he thought we were doing fine. One thing he said made me question it all. He said, “I feel that you’re supposed to know and have this feeling when you’re ready to move forward to be with a person forever.” I was so confused by that comment.

My friends say it can’t only be me who wants this; he has to want it, too. Is it time for me to just move on?

Mulling Over Very Emotional Options Now

Move on, MOVEON, but keep an open mind. Seeing you move on may help your boyfriend realize he does want to be with you forever—it’ll help him “know”—and if you haven’t realized in the interim that you don’t want to be with him, you can move back in (and move on) together down the road. But unless inheriting the family property is a sure thing—a sure thing you’ll both benefit from in the long run—he needs to pay his fair share. No more freeloading.


Why should I, a feminist, be OK with drag? How is it any different than blackface?

Tough Question

Drag can be sexist, TQ, but it doesn’t have to be. And when done right, it isn’t. Blackface is always racist. Drag celebrates the craft of hyper-feminine presentation. Drag demonstrates that so much of what we think of as “naturally” feminine is not just a social construct, but quite literally a construction. Drag has the power to explode sexism, to expose it, by complicating people’s preconceptions and misconceptions about what it means to be a woman. Blackface can only reinforce and amplify racism.

In the Lovecast studios … Stormy Daniels!: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

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

Pho 533 Expands, Adds a Spring Roll Bar

About a year and a half ago, Chad Gardner—known for his fantastic Dash and a Handful Catering business—purchased longtime old-school Vietnamese restaurant Pho 533, located at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive.

What a difference 18 month makes: On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Pho 533 will emerge from a month-long closure as a completely different place.

First, Gardner has doubled Pho 533’s size while also revamping the menu. Second, he’s added a cocktail bar. Third, he’s added a 10-seat spring roll bar.

Yes, that’s right … a spring roll bar.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, Pho 533 offered a sneak preview to the Palm Springs Eating and Living Facebook group—and the new digs are gorgeous.

The food’s pretty amazing, too. The new spring roll menu includes 10 different types of rolls, featuring everything from mango to chicken to lobster to mushrooms. The samples of the spring rolls being created—“hand rolled to order,” thank you very much—at that aforementioned spring roll bar were delicious. I got a bite or two of the spicy tuna roll ($16), which comes with sashimi-grade tuna mixed with pickled ginger, shirataki noodles, cilantro, lettuce, cucumber, sesame seeds and the house sriracha mayo. Let’s just say I am looking forward to enjoying my own spicy tuna roll, and don’t expect me to be in a sharing mood.

As for the drinks coming out of the new bar: The event featured the tequila “buoi”—Pho 533’s version of the paloma—which includes Arette blanco tequila, Bundaberg grapefruit soda, lime and salt. Tasty, indeed.

For more information, visit Pho 533’s Facebook page or website for more information.


Coming Soon: Umami Seoul Korean BBQ and Japanese Cuisine

We have a good-news, bad-news situation here.

First, the bad news: Thai Kitchen 1, which was located at 67555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, has closed. Thai Kitchen 1 was one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the valley, and I learned the restaurant had closed the hard way: When I called the restaurant to get some takeout, I got that dreaded message: “Beep beep BEEP! We’re sorry. You have reached a number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Now, the good news: The folks who owned downtown Palm Springs’ Wasabi for many years are opening Umami Seoul Korean BBQ and Japanese Cuisine in that spot.

“How did we come up with the name Umami Seoul?” the restaurant’s website asks. “We wanted to combine both our Japanese and Korean influences into one. Umami means savory in Japanese, using and challenging all of your senses to create a truly ‘umami’ experience. Seoul is our hometown city in Korea and the place that has inspired all of our Korean cuisine.”

The online menu promises various appetizers, sushi rolls and Korean specialties. Yum!

The restaurant should be open any day now; heck, it may be open by the time you read this. Stop by, or visit www.umamiseoul.com and www.facebook.com/umamiseoulps for updates and more information.


In Brief

Fans of the Augustine Casino’s restaurants—Café 54 and the Menyikish Bar and Grill—take note: The entire casino will be closed from Monday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Oct. 16. The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians is taking that time to do a full-scale remodel of the 14-year-old facility, located at 84001 Avenue 54, in Coachella. Visit www.augustinecasino.com for details and updates. … Coming soon: The Big Rock Pub, to 79940 Westward Ho Drive, in Indio. Expect “a blend of classic rock and classic cuisine.” Visit www.thebigrockpub.com for more info, including details on Big Rock’s job fair, taking place Sept. 6-9. … Congrats to the good folks at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill, at 350 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, who on Aug. 28 celebrated the one-year anniversary of the restaurant’s popular Sunday Desert Divas Drag Brunch! For just $14.95, it’s an amazing deal. (Be sure to bring dollars to tip the divas, too!) Visit rioazulpalmsprings.com for more info. … Get ready to enjoy German beers and eats—and support a great cause while doing so! From 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 2, Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, at 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will be holding an Oktoberfest celebration—and 30 percent of all Oktoberfest proceeds will go to the March to Equality, billed as “the most expansive virtual march in history supporting full LGBT equality.” Visit marchtoequality.org for more details. … Please extend a hearty Coachella Valley welcome to Andrew Cooper, the new executive chef at the La Quinta Resort and Club, at 49499 Eisenhower Drive, in La Quinta. He’ll oversee the food and beverage program at all of the resort’s bars and restaurants, including Morgan’s in the Desert. Cooper’s 15-year career includes a lot of time at various Four Seasons resorts, most recently the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, N.M. More info at www.laquintaresort.com. … Popular build-your-own-pizza joint Pieology Pizzeria has opened its first valley location, at 42500 Bob Hope Drive, Suite D, in Rancho Mirage. Head to www.pieology.com for details. … Coming soon to the old Sam’s Sushi location at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage: Fox and Fiddle, a British-style pub. There are a bunch of Canadian locations of Fox and Fiddle; visit www.foxandfiddlecalifornia.com for more info. … Keep your eye open for changes at Matchbox, on the second floor at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. It’s under new ownership; a new name and menu should soon follow. … We’ve been hearing nothing but raves about Cie Sichuan Cuisine, which opened a couple of months ago at 45682 Towne St., in Indio. We’ll give a more detailed report after we’ve had a chance to check it out; in the meantime, find menus and more info at www.facebook.com/ciesichuancuisineofficial.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

When I sat down with actor and drag performer James “Gypsy” Haake and Carnival Cabaret producer Dan Gore—also Haake’s manager—they placed a portfolio on the table.

It was packed with photos from Haake’s days at the La Cage Aux Folles dinner cabaret on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, with stars including Dudley Moore and Hugh Hefner. Also included is what Haake said is a rare photo of Dear Abby and Ann Landers together—with him in between.

Haake, 82, recently came out of retirement and is performing as Gypsy once again. He will be emceeing Carnival Cabaret shows at Oscar’s Café and Bar Dec. 29-31.

Haake began his career as a Broadway performer after he graduated from high school in New Jersey. He had experience in a local theater; he lived there during the summer, he said, painting sets and dancing in shows. After taking part in an open audition, he was cast in his first show at the age of 19.

That first show led, in a sense, to his name “Gypsy.”

“Dancers, both boys and girls, who dance in the chorus are called ‘gypsies,’ because they go from one show to another,” he said. “I was cast in a show called Wish You Were Here that had a swimming pool onstage, and that’s where Florence Henderson got her start, and she was 19 also. She sang and got the lead song. Jack Cassidy was the star, and I went (on) to other shows after that.”

By the time he was 30, Haake had retired from dancing and opened a cabaret in Manhattan called Gypsy’s; notable actresses such as Christine Ebersole and Nell Carter performed there. Haake was at the club until 1978.

“The disco and the drug scenes came in,” Haake said. “No one was going to the big cabaret clubs, and they all closed.”

He befriended John Waters’ leading lady, Divine (Glenn Milstead), after seeing him perform in a theater in the early ’70s on the Lower East Side of New York in a show called Women Behind Bars. However, Waters and Haake were not a fit.

“He didn’t like me at all,” Haake said. “He said I was way too mainstream, because I didn’t curse, and I wouldn’t eat shit like Divine did in Pink Flamingos.”

In the ’80s, Haake began appearing in films and TV shows. He was noticed by Mel Brooks and his wife, Anne Bancroft, and was cast as Sasha in To Be or Not to Be.

“The interesting thing about my film career is 90 percent of the time, I had the best directors,” he remembered. “Sidney Lumet directed me in The Morning After, Robert Altman in Tanner ’88, and Mel Brooks? You can’t do better than that. ... Everything I learned, I learned from Anne Bancroft in eight months.”

Divine died in 1988, on a day when he and Haake were supposed to get together for lunch. At the time, Haake was working on the set of Troop Beverly Hills. Divine had been selected to play the role of Uncle Otto on Married With Children. Instead, Haake took the part, and appeared in one episode.

“It was very hard to replace him,” Haake said. “Not only that, but sitcom television is so different from film. It was very difficult; plus, I was used to film.”

Haake’s drag career didn’t start until later in his life—when he became, oddly enough, an instant fashion model.

“It’s not like anyone else that does it. I had never been in drag, and I was 50 years old,” Haake said. “Vivian Blaine took me to Neiman Marcus, and she bought eight gowns (and) shoes. Agnes Moorehead had died, and we replicated her makeup and the eyebrows, and that’s how it went on. Designers would give me clothes, (and) flew me to Paris to do a Chanel show. By then, I was pretty famous.”

Haake’s drag routine is certainly unique. He doesn’t sing, and he doesn’t imitate anyone. Also, in his words: “No wigs and no tits.”

Gore further explained what makes Gypsy a rarity among drag performers.

“Gypsy is mainly an emcee,” Gore said. “It’s his emcee style that’s been so popular. It’s hard to believe that his performance in La Cage Aux Folles was as popular as it was. It wasn’t a gay bar; it was a very high-end cabaret that attracted very high-end clientele, wealthy clientele, and conservative clientele. Gypsy was the emcee in between the acts and impersonated celebrities. This was before social media, before e-mail, and before any of that. It was actually a phenomenon, because the power of word of mouth was a prevalent thing. Designers would come in and see all the celebrities in the audience, and it was packed to the hilt, and maybe 20 percent were current celebrities. They’d see Gypsy wear the dresses and were in awe, and they would make him dresses so he could tell the audience what he was wearing.”

Gore said he focuses on quality when he puts together his Carnival Cabaret shows, which feature a variety of drag performers.

“When you go to a drag show at a gay bar, there’s no director, and there’s no structure,” Gore said. “People are working for drinks or $20. We’re not striving to earn tips; we’re striving to push a higher level of theater involving men portraying women onstage. Everyone who is performing in this show isn’t from here, because the people in this town are not at the caliber of talent I would use, and they don’t have the ability to be in a structured show; they’re just used to dollars in their tits. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, because that’s where I get my acts, and then I tell them what we do, and I see potential in a lot of people.”

Haake said that at the age of 82, he still enjoys doing what he does, even after a handful of retirements.

“I do enjoy it, especially for someone at my age,” he said. “As far as living in the past, I’m talking about my past. I don’t literally live in it. People I knew such as Lana Turner are dead now and have gone before me, and I’m very current. When I open here, it’ll be like my first night (ever performing). That’s where my mind goes: It’s my first gig, and here we go! I’m always the alpha; I’m never the omega.”

Carnival Cabaret takes place at 6 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 29 and 30; and 5:45 and 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 31, at Oscar’s Café and Bar, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $24.95 for the show only on Monday and Tuesday (starts at 7 p.m.), or $49.95 for dinner and the show. The early dinner show on Wednesday is $69.95; the late dinner show is $99.95. For tickets or more information, visit carnivalcabaret.ticketleap.com.

Published in Local Fun