CVIndependent

Thu12122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The gay circuit party that helped revitalize Palm Springs is celebrating a milestone.

The White Party will be marking its 30th anniversary this year when it returns to the Palm Springs Convention Center and—in a move away from its longtime host hotel, the Renaissance—arrives at the Palm Springs Hilton. The weekend of almost-nonstop parties kicks off at the Hilton pool at noon on Friday, April 26, and concludes the following Sunday night (actually, Monday morning) with the Papa Tribal party at the Convention Center.

However, the weekend’s big event is the White Party itself, taking place at the Convention Center Saturday night. This year’s theme is “House of Gods”—and a featured performer will be Beth Sacks.

If you like dance music, you’re familiar with Sacks’ songs—often with DJ Aron—such as her cover of “Voulez Vous” and their newest song, “Hey Hey Hey.” I recently had a chance to talk to Sacks about her music—and how she wound up becoming one of the most popular names on the gay pride/party circuit.

What can people expect from your White Party performance?

A good time! They’re going to want to sing along, because they’re familiar with all of our music that I’ve done with DJ Aron. It’s a good time—a lot of energy, and a lot of uplifting songs that will make you want to dance.

How did you become a gay dance great?

I started singing as a child, listening to disco music; Donna Summer was my idol along with Gloria Gaynor. Later, I got involved in musical theater. I did many Broadway musical productions, and I toured with Phantom of the Opera. I moved to New York to pursue Broadway; I studied opera as well. … However, back in the days of Limelight and Roxy, I discovered Peter Rauhofer and Junior Vasquez.

As a child, always wanted to make the sounds that Donna Summer was making. I’ve always had a love, behind the musical theater that I was doing, for dance music. It just always felt very healing and free. Watching my friends struggle through coming out—you didn’t come out when I was in high school. You didn’t do that. It was a secret. It was not as open as it is today, and I always felt like the music, especially in the gay community, was about celebrating positive messages.

I’ve just always had a love for that type of music, because it’s very uplifting. It gives you hope. … I have to sit back and be amazed at how blessed I feel. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people who were down on their luck or might have been going through something. … They tell us, “Your music gives me hope for another day.”

You’ve never been to Palm Springs?

No, this is my first time.

I have to ask: How can you be a circuit-party singer and never have been to Palm Springs?

(Laughs.) I remember when bringing a female singer (to a gay dance party) wasn’t always very popular. … It’s a boys’ night, if you will. But that’s changed. … Because of my work and because what (DJ Aron and I) have done together, I’ve been able to get recognized.

I’ve worked with (White Party promoter) Jeffrey Sanker before. … He invited me to come. I just said, “I will be there with bells on.”

What are expecting from your first time to Palm Springs?

I’m expecting it to be incredible. I’ve watched many videos from the party. I know it is the biggest party in the United States. So, I’m expecting a huge party—a huge turnout.

The White Party Palm Springs, part of White Party Weekend, takes place at 10 p.m., Saturday, April 27, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $150. For tickets or more information, visit www.jeffreysanker.com/white-party-palm-springs.

Published in Local Fun

For some people, it may be hard to believe: Many attendees of this weekend’s White Party 2014 will be younger than the event itself.

Organizer Jeffrey Sanker said the first several White Party events he did actually lost money.

“But I always knew it was a good event and eventually would do well,” he said via email. “I’m glad that patience paid off. I’m thankful that we’ve been able to do this for so long and look forward to the future.”

The White Party brings in world-class DJs, musicians and other performers for the various parties that take place throughout the weekend. This year, Ariana Grande—named the New Artist of the Year at the 2013 American Music Awards—will headline the White Party. (Of course, surprise guests are always a possibility, too.)

White Party headliners have led to some of Sanker’s favorite White Party moments, he said.

“I have two fondest memories: The time when Jennifer Lopez was the surprise headliner, and when Lady Gaga headlined (just one year after she performed as the third act at the Sunday Pool Party),” he said. “Both did it to show their appreciation for their gay fans.”

As mainstream acceptance of LGBT culture has grown, so, too, has the White Party; this year’s sponsors include big names such as Fiat and SiriusXM radio.

“I think this year, we have the most diverse group of attendees ever,” Sanker said. “I see White Party continuing to be that way. Every year, we get a lot of first-timers, and many of them return again and again.”

Of course, White Party has brought a lot of exposure to the city of Palm Springs, as tens of thousands of out-of-towners show up to attend the event each year.

“I think White Party has brought a lot of visibility to Palm Springs and awareness of what a magical and welcoming place it truly is,” Sanker said. “Over the years, we’ve had so many first-time visitors just fall in love with the area and return year after year. A lot of them tell me they wound up moving here after coming to White Party.”

White Party 25 takes place Friday, April 25, through Sunday, April 27, at the Renaissance Hotel and the Palm Springs Convention Center. Weekend passes begin at $399; tickets to Saturday’s White Party are $160. Individual tickets to other events vary in price. For tickets or more information, visit www.jeffreysanker.com.

Published in Local Fun

The Palm Springs Convention Center was awash in white Saturday night and Sunday morning (March 30 and 31) at White Party 2013.

Chippendales dancer/The Amazing Race alum Jaymes Vaughan joined forces with the great Madame to interview celebrities (such as White Party performer Carmen Electra) on a "white carpet" outside of the convention center. Inside, many thousands of men (and a few women) danced, snapped pictures and enjoyed themselves on a dance floor that got increasingly crowded—and sweaty—as the night went on.

Scroll down to see pictures snapped at the event by the Independent's Jimmy Boegle and Linda Ray.

Published in Snapshot

In the 1970s, Madame was all the rage.

The sassy ol’ broad—accompanied by her puppeteer, Wayland Flowers—was a regular on Solid Gold. (Yes, that Solid Gold; she often chatted with the guest performers.) She was also a regular on Hollywood Squares, even taking over center square from time to time after Paul Lynde left. She was on Laugh-In. She even had her own show, Madame’s Place, in 1982-1983

She was a star. A big star.

When Wayland Flowers died of AIDS-related cancer in 1988, the puppet diva, of course, went into retirement. She had a brief comeback tour several years ago, and is today on the arm of a new puppeteer, comedy/commercials/TV veteran Gary Holland.

In other words, Madame is out to become a big star yet again.

Her biggest comeback gig so far: She’ll be doing “White Carpet commentary” during the White Party’s main event, on Saturday, March 30, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. During White Party weekend (March 29-31), presenter Jeffrey Sanker will deem Madame to be the “Dame of White Party 2013.”

Ticket prices for the White Party weekend events vary, and prices go up after Friday, March 15. For tickets and details, visit www.jeffreysanker.com.

In advance of Madame’s big comeback, the Independent was honored to interview her via email.

Other than a brief comeback several years ago, you’ve been largely missing from the scene since Wayland Flowers passed away in 1988. What have you been up to all of these years?

I've been up to everything, honey! I took some much needed "Madame-time" to find myself. I traveled around and met plenty of men, but I just couldn't find the right hand to go up my dress. It was like a way-more-fun version of Cinderella. I tried many, many men on for size, and now I've found my prince—but that isn't going to stop me from sampling the talent at White Party, of course.

Have you been to a White Party before?

Never! But everyone looks fabulous in white (but then, I guess, no one is really wearing much of anything at this party, anyway).

You’re providing “White Carpet” commentary at the White Party. What will you be looking for in terms of fashion?

The less, the better! This is Palm Springs in the spring at the White Party—shirts are not necessary! Even the burliest bears in town should let the air hit their fur. Fashion for this party can be tricky, of course; you need looks that can go from pool to night, which is not easy to pull off. Speaking of, you need something that's very easy to actually pull off! All those fireworks just have a way of setting off sparks at the party.

Someone mentioned to me that you’d be doing commentary in a style similar to that of Joan Rivers. Do you think you and Rivers have much in common?

I love Joan, but I think I bring a younger perspective than she does. Though, who doesn't? Joan Rivers is so old that her birth certificate is written in hieroglyphics. Joan and I both speak our minds; we don't hold back. We both take the same all-in approach to our commentary that we do to our plastic surgeries.

What will YOU be wearing to the White Party?

My gown will reflect my personality: sparkling, expensive and loose as hell.

I am sure someone as fabulous as you are has been to Palm Springs before. What do you think of the town? Any likes or dislikes?

I’ve been coming to Palm Springs for many years. I love a town that sleeps late and drinks early. I like that Botox is delivered to your door along with the morning paper. Any time of day, you can drive by the Movie Colony and watch the gardeners trim the pool boy. The restaurants serve appetizers that resemble the local residents … crispy brown on the outside, and tender on the inside. I love hitting the bars, 'cause this is the desert, and one must simply stay hydrated!

White Party organizer Jeffrey Sanker is set to bestow upon you the title of “Dame” at the party. Do you know what in the world that means? And how do you feel about it?

This is the nicest time anyone has ever referred to me as a "dame." I hope I can use my title of honor to be a beacon to the young and misguided. Any hot young thing in Palm Springs this weekend should just head over to my room if they need a little "guidance" from their honorable Dame! Also, if it's good enough for Helen Mirren, it's perfect for me.

Many of the younger White Party participants may not be familiar with your style. Describe yourself to them.

I love to go out and have a good time, and then laugh about it onstage the next night. I call things as I see them, and I don't like to let anyone off the hook, especially celebrities. I'm a consummate entertainer at heart, and I really know how to put on a show. I will admit to lip-syncing, though, but unlike Beyoncé, I have a good excuse for it.

You have a growing presence on Facebook and Twitter. How easy was it for a veteran performer such as yourself to embrace these new media?

Twitter and Facebook are just the most wonderful things! I can talk directly to my fans from the comfort of my iPhone. I love that I can be anywhere just twiddling on my twitter … and also be using social media!

Finally, I need a drink. You recently appeared on Watch What Happens Live! and served up cocktails to Andy Cohen. What’s Madame’s fave cocktail?

I enjoy my spirits, and I'm not one to discriminate. Women always look good with a martini glass in hand, so martinis are at the top of my list, but sometimes, I need a good tequila to get my party started. I'm not a lady who will turn down a free drink, so I'd say my fave cocktail is the one sent by the handsomest gentleman in the bar!

Published in Local Fun