CVIndependent

Tue09172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

It all began at an Ace Hotel job fair in 2009.

“Our vice president saw Linda in line, with this fabulous glittery dress and a pair of her signature glasses,” recalled Jason Dibler, the hotel’s general manager. “He said, ‘I don’t know what she does, but we need her.’”

That’s how Linda Gerard started her rapid ascent toward becoming something of a Palm Springs icon. Sadly, the hostess of the Ace’s wildly popular Sissy Bingo Monday nights is currently in the battle of her life: Several weeks ago, Gerard was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, her friends and fans are joining forces to put on a fundraiser at the Ace next Monday evening, March 25.

That Ace’s vice president’s instincts have paid off: It turns out that woman in line is one hell of a performer. She was Barbra Streisand’s understudy when Funny Girl was on Broadway. She became a Provincetown singing legend, and opened one of the East Coast’s biggest lesbian bars in that town in the 1970s. Later, she moved to West Hollywood and opened The Rose Tattoo cabaret club. She even made a splash on Deal or No Deal, with the briefcase-holding models wearing oversized glasses in tribute as she won some good money.

Of course, Linda made an instant splash at the Ace. Her first gig was as the hostess at the King’s Highway restaurant, and somewhere along the line, she started singing—for a diner’s birthday, perhaps. So then she became the singing hostess, which led to a bingo night in the Amigo Room bar. Of course, this was no regular bingo night; Linda often would stop calling numbers and break into song, or a story about her life, or something else entertaining.

“It got so busy, so fast, that we moved (the bingo night) to the restaurant,” Dibler said, citing social networking as being key to Linda’s rise: Someone would post a video on Facebook, for example, of Linda doing her thing, and people would decide they needed to check her out themselves.

The Ace also released a compilation album of some of Linda’s songs, Fabulous Selections, on vinyl. (You can listen to some excerpts online at the Ace website. Good stuff.)

Gerard said that on a Monday in February, Linda showed up for bingo not feeling well—she was having difficulty breathing—but she still put on a fine show. She was soon thereafter diagnosed with lung cancer.

This Monday, March 25, starting at 7 p.m., the Ace is throwing a “Linda Fabulous” party. A portion of bar proceeds and all revenues from rooms booked for that night with the code “fabulous” will be donated to Linda (plus, the resort fee will be waived, and patrons will receive a 25 percent discount). Linda will also receive the proceeds from raffle tickets, and the raffle prizes look pretty sweet, with well more than a dozen businesses—from LuLu California Bistro to Vons to the Living Desert to the Ace itself—chipping in.

The entertainment lineup is impressive as well. Performers include Lady Tigra (of L’Trimm), Sean Wheeler (of Throw Rag and a frequent collaborator with Zander Schloss), JP Houston and the Fabulous Band, DJ Day, Rachel Dean, Giselle Woo, Alf Alpha and Ace karaoke host Kiesha. Manny the Movie Guy will host.

There’s also a chance of an appearance by Linda, the OWL (Older, Wiser Lesbian) herself, depending on how she’s feeling. Here’s what she wrote in a letter to friends and fans posted on the Ace website: “Thank you so much for your love and support. I look forward to returning to the Ace very soon. I will do everything in my power to rid my body of the monsters inside me and once again join you in King’s Highway, outside on the patio, the Amigo Room or wherever you are at the Ace. I will wear my giant glasses, sing lots of songs and even play some fucking bingo Monday nights. I hope to see many of you on the 25th. And again, thank you. This will be a celebration for all of us.”

Hear, hear.

Linda Fabulous takes place at 7 p.m., Monday, March 25, at the Commune space at the Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free, but donations, raffle-ticket purchases and generosity are appreciated. For more information, visit acehotel.com/fabulous.

Hundreds of attendees came out to peruse the offerings of dozens of local authors at the Palm Springs Writers Guild's annual Desert Writers Expo.

The event—held at the Rancho Mirage Public Library on Wednesday, March 20—included about 42 authors who have penned books on topics ranging from "cyber thriller" to travel to past-life regression. 

The Independent stopped by and took a few snapshots of the event. Enjoy.

Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:00

The Lucky 13: DJ Odysey

Pablo Rocha, 32, was born in Palm Springs, and the automotive technician (it’s a “fancy way to say mechanic,” he says) has lived in the Coachella Valley his entire life. Local-music fans know Rocha as DJ Odysey, and they can catch him in action at 10 p.m., Friday, March 22, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. Admission is free (and the cocktails, while obviously not free, are fantastic, by the way). For more information on Bar, visit www.barwastaken.com; for more on DJ Odysey, visit soundcloud.com/DJ-ODYSEY.

What was the first concert you attended?

I’m a bit embarrassed to say … it was a Beach Boys concert, ha ha, with my dad while I was in middle school. The first event I attended by choice, on my own, was B-Boy Summit ’96. It wasn’t really a concert, but more of a hip-hop conference. Break-dancers, DJs, graffiti artists, rappers and hip-hop fans from all over the world would attend these—and they used to be free. I got to see some of the most well-known “underground” DJs play and stood onstage with them. Pretty exciting stuff for a 16-year-old kid.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I can remember having is DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. I was a big fan of them as a kid, and I got into DJing because of this album. One side was all songs, and Side B was more Jazzy Jeff doing his own thing, scratching over beats. I still listen to this album from time to time. It’s a classic to me, and it played a huge part in what I do now.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I listen to all kinds of groups, and different genres of music. I’m a big People Under the Stairs fan, so a lot of times, I find myself listening to their catalog, old and new. I’m feeling Kendrick Lamar; I like his Section.80 album. His new one is also good. But I like more of a boom bap, golden-era hip-hop-type of sound. So I listen to more of ’90s hip hop or anything that sounds like it. I’ve also found myself listening to Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear album a lot lately. Very very, deep album.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The one genre of music that everyone loved but that I didn’t get was dubstep. It just never rubbed me the right way—but to each his own.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Like I said, I’m a big golden era (late ’80s-late ’90s) hip-hop fan. I’ve had the chance to see many of my heros from that era such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, KRS-One, Nas, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, Xzibit, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, etc. The one person I have yet to see perform live would have to be Rakim.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’ll get down to some ’80s freestyle music: Exposé, Trinere, Debbie Deb, Pretty Poison, Starpoint, etc.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I saw a really good show at Club Nokia at L.A. Live. The sound was great, and you get a good look at the stage wherever you stand.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Thinkin’ of a master plan / Cuz ain’t nuthin but sweat inside my hand / So I dig into my pocket, all my money is spent / So I dig deeper but still comin’ up with lint,” Eric B. and Rakim, “Paid in Full.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I can’t name a single band or artist who changed my life, but I can tell you that hip-hop “culture” itself changed my life: everything that revolves around the music—of course, not what you see on TV now, but what it once was. Every genre of music, I think, there is a lifestyle that stands behind it. Hip-hop locked me in at the age of 6 or 7. I was always into break-dancing, and at age 9, I decided I wanted to be a DJ, not to mix, but to scratch! That’s all I wanted to do when I first started at 14. It can be compared to a guitarist or drummer jamming out and improvising. Same with the break-dancing, graffiti and emceeing. It all goes together: Hip hop is like Voltron! Ha ha. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask J Dilla: “What was going through your head as you were in the hospital, on your death bed, creating your last album?” R.I.P. J Dilla.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

A Spanish Tex-Mex song by Ramon Ayala, “Entierrenme Cantando,” which translates to “Bury Me Singing.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

It would have to be The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Everybody should listen to my remix of Eric B. and Rakim’s classic “I Know You Got Soul.” Ha ha, I had to give my self a plug. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Friday, May 31, may seem like a long way away, but the organizers of Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week say it never hurts to get an early start on planning.

“Every year, my husband and I make it a staycation,” said Kim Crandal, the executive director of Restaurant Week, during which a bevy of local restaurants will be offering special three-course prix-fixe menus for either $26 or $38 per person.

Given that this year’s Restaurant Week is bigger than ever, perhaps planning is a good idea. For one thing, the week is much longer than a week—it runs for 17 days, in fact, from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16.

Why the expansion?

“We took a look at the history of requests from some of the restaurants,” Crandal said. “… So many people were experiencing success.”

As of now, 79 restaurants throughout the valley—including local favorites, big chains and eateries that are new to the scene—are signed up to participate.

But the week goes beyond food; the tag line for the event is “Eat. See. Stay.” Crandal said numerous hotels and resorts (that would be the “stay” part) are participating, as are various attractions and spas (that would be the “see” part).

“We are focusing more on crafting the ‘see’ and ‘stay’ components so people understand it’s more than a restaurant week,” she said. What do you do during the day?”

About a dozen hotels are currently signed on, and the 20 or so “see” partners include everything from the Palm Springs Art Museum to Knott’s Soak City to the Desert Springs Spa to Desert Adventures Eco-Tours and Events.

Restaurant Week also has something of a special relationship with “Forever Marilyn,” the 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe that currently graces downtown Palm Springs. She was installed just before last year’s Restaurant Week, and she’ll be taken down and moved (temporarily, many hope) during this year’s Restaurant Week. While plans are not yet finalized, an idea is being batted around to create a more life-sized Marilyn Monroe representation—a statue, perhaps, or a cut-out—and have her pop up at the various restaurants during the 2 1/2 weeks of Restaurant Week.

Crandal noted that some folks are indeed already making Restaurant Week plans. For example, she cited a group of about 90 golfers from Santa Barbara who have made Restaurant Week an annual trip.

“It’s really building a nice following,” Crandal said.

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week takes place from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16. For a complete list of participants and updates, visit www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.

Student and professional artists came out to the parking area behind "Forever Marilyn" in downtown Palm Springs on Saturday, March 16, for the Third Annual Palm Springs Chalk Art Festival.

Chosen subjects ranged from turtles to angels to a image from Oz the Great and Powerful. Students competed for a $250 first-place prize, while the pros (who, unlike the students, had to pay an entry fee and/or get sponsors) competed for prizes topping out at $500.

The event was presented by the Palm Springs Sun-up Rotary Club and the City of Palm Springs Public Arts Commission. Proceeds were slated to go to the Rotary Foundation, Palm Springs Unified School District art education, and the Rotary's PolioPlus program.

The Independent stopped by to take some pictures about an hour before judging was slated to begin. Scroll down to see our pictures (please ignore the photographers's shadow in one of them; he had a brain malfunction in the 90-plus-degree heat).

In Sacramento, Beauty and the Beast was a hit—especially the strapping young man who plays Gaston.

“Under the direction of Rob Roth, (Joe) Hager steals the show as the larger-than-life Gaston, always preening and flexing his muscles,” wrote Saunthy Nicolson-Singh in the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. “The town’s womenfolk follow him around, pumping up his already inflated ego. You want to hate him, but his affectations reminiscent of Steve Martin and Jim Carrey are hilarious.”

Following that March 6-17 Sacramento run—as well as a two-day stop in San Luis Obispo—Hager and his Beauty and the Beast cast mates will stop at the McCallum Theatre for five shows this weekend (March 22-24).

The Independent spoke to Hager in the midst of the show’s Sacramento stop, and he said the cast was enjoying the ability to settle down a little bit following a stretch that saw them in 17 cities within 20 days.

“My biggest worry is remembering my hotel-room number,” he said, laughing, when asked about the frantic travel schedule.

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most successful musicals of all time. Following the 1991 Disney film that became the first animated movie to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination, the play opened on Broadway in 1994, and would continue its Broadway run for more than 13 years. Numerous international, domestic and traveling productions of the show have charmed millions over the years.

For the current national tour, the original Broadway design team reunited in an effort to inject a bit of new life into the play, which features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton.

Hager said the current production takes a “fresh approach” to the story of the beautiful Belle, the Beast, and the vain hunter/town hottie, Gaston.

“Because this is a tour, and the set’s scaled down a bit, it means the ensemble plays a very big role,” he said. “The presence onstage is very powerful.”

Joe Hager.Hager (pictured to the right), a Kansas native who is making is national-tour debut, said playing Gaston is actually a dream come true. He said he saw the show as a wee lad in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, and decided then and there that one day, he’d play either the Beast or Gaston. He later convinced his parents to enroll him in performing-arts camp, a move which helped him overcome shyness as he grew up; he then studied theater throughout high school.

“I was the Glee guy before Glee was Glee,” he said. “I’d do football in the fall, and theater in the spring.”

In college, he decided to focus on opera. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma City University, and moved on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Kansas. While he had some success in the opera world, after a while, he decided to move to New York City to “explore other boundaries.”

Soon after the move, he saw an audition notice for Beauty and the Beast. He decided to try out; he got the part of Gaston and joined the cast on Nov. 30; and after the McCallum shows, Hager and company will head to Los Angeles—where Hager will perform his dream role in the place where the dream came to be.

Of course, the dream won’t end there; Hager will remain with the cast into early June, before the play closes for a couple of months. Hager said he’d like to remain in the show when it resumes touring later in the year.

“It really does become a family after a while,” he said.

And beyond that? Hager said he’s open to whatever possibilities come his way.

“This experience so far has kind of woken me up and made me realize I don’t know my potential yet,” he said. “I want to try it all. If you throw enough darts, you’re eventually going to hit a bull’s-eye.”

Meanwhile, he’s having the time of his life playing Gaston.

“For me, at least, he’s the best part,” he said of Gaston. “He is the villain, but you can’t help but love him. He’s a charming oaf.”

Beauty and the Beast will be at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert, from Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24. Shows are at 8 p.m., Friday; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $45 to $105. For tickets or more information, call 340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Bassist Angel Chavez, 27, and his Wooden Nomad band mates have been spending a lot of time in the Coachella Valley as of late. The heavy-rock band recorded their new album, The Sound of Earth, in Palm Desert. Now that the album’s ready for public consumption, Chavez and company will be making the drive up from Oxnard to play a show at Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails, 32025 Monterey Ave., in Thousand Palms, at 9 p.m., Saturday, March 16. Also slated to be on the bill are Brain Vat, In the Name of the Dead, and Facelift. For more on Plan B, visit www.myplanbbar.com, or call 343-2115. For more on Wooden Nomad, visit www.facebook.com/WoodenNomad or soundcloud.com/wooden-nomad.

What was the first concert you attended?

Suicidal Tendencies.

What was the first album you owned?

Van Halen, Van Halen.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Greenleaf, Truckfighters, Soundgarden, and Kyuss.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I don’t get the Justin Beaver dude, or whatever his name is …

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I can’t wait to see Alice in Chains. Their new album (slated to be released in May) will be promising.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Adele. Ha ha ha; she’s rad, though!

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Roxy (in West Hollywood). It’s a crazy place to play.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“You want it all, all or nothing,” from “All or Nothing,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Kyuss. Raw rock ’n’ roll with a killer singer. Haven’t been the same since.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Tom Petty: Exactly how many takes to record “Refugee”?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Superunknown by Soundgarden.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“100 Degrees” by Kyuss. Because that’s where we’re headed! Palm Desert! (Scroll down to hear it.)

In December 2006, I flew from Tucson, Ariz., to Boston for a job interview.

The Boston Phoenix—one of the most venerable and respected alternative newsweeklies in the country—was looking for an editor, and my application had caught the Phoenix’s collective eye.

The part-day I spent in Boston was one of the most intense of my life: If memory serves, I had six separate interviews, with a total of 13 people, over a 6 1/2-hour span. If that wasn’t mentally grueling enough, I had to go through that gauntlet on three hours of sleep, because my flight into Boston was delayed.

It became apparent during the interviews that some of the managers there felt that I, as the editor of a paper in little ol’ Tucson, was too small-time for the Phoenix; I knew before setting foot on the plane back home I would not get the job. I was fine with that, even though I had—and have—great respect for the Phoenix.

That weird, exhausting December 2006 day came to mind today, when the owners of the Phoenix announced that the paper was ceasing print publication immediately, and that next week’s online edition would be its last.

The news was heartbreaking to me. I love alternative publications; after all, I quit my fantastic gig in Tucson after a decade to move to the Coachella Valley and launch the Independent, so this area could have a real, honest-to-goodness publication in the alt-weekly vein. This news should be heartbreaking to everyone who loves good, edgy, fun journalism.

In a news release announcing the closure, Phoenix executive editor Peter Kadzis—with whom my first interview was on that December 2006 day—hit the figurative nail on the head, as he explained that although the Boston Phoenix was closing, its sister newspapers in Portland, Maine, and Providence, R.I., would remain in business.

“I started reading the paper when I was 14 years old and had the fun and challenge of running it for 20 years or so,” Kadzis said. “Political Boston, arts Boston, just won’t be the same. We are a textbook example of sweeping market-place change. Our recent switch to a magazine format met with applause from readers and local advertisers. Not so—with a few exceptions—national advertisers. It was the long-term decline of national advertising dollars that made the Boston Phoenix economically unviable. Providence and Portland, however, don’t suffer from that problem. The local advertising market is sufficient to support those publications. You can see why Warren Buffett favors small market papers over their big city brothers and sisters.”

It’s a shame that, essentially, the Phoenix became too dependent on non-local advertisers to succeed. And it’s a crying shame that Boston won’t have that strong, alternative media voice any more (although the smaller Dig Boston, owned by my friend Jeff Lawrence, lives on).

Diverse media voices are important to a community. I have seen this firsthand; in my hometown of Reno, Nev., I was lucky enough to edit the Reno News & Review in my mid-20s, and watched the arts scene grow in Reno along with the paper. I saw it in Las Vegas, where I worked for CityLife. And I saw it in Tucson, where the Tucson Weekly is, in every way, an important piece of the fabric of the community.

Just like the Phoenix was in Boston. That important piece of fabric just got ripped out of Boston. And in its place will be a gaping hole.

The lesson here for those of us outside of Boston is this: Support good, ethical local media. Good, strong, entertaining journalism can make a community better.

I recently met with a local advertising-agency head; he was kind enough to take the time to allow me to introduce him to the Independent. At one point, our mission statement came up, and I spoke a bit about how I believed in quality reporting and writing, as opposed to the regurgitated-press-release-style of writing that’s far, far too prevalent in the Coachella Valley today.

He responded that while creative types like himself appreciate good writing and reporting, most businesses who are spending advertising dollars don’t care; instead, they care about getting their message out to the right customers, period, no matter the quality of what surrounds their ads.

I told him that while I was confident the Independent would indeed be a good fit for his clients’ customers, I was banking on the fact that I believe readers and advertisers still want quality journalism, too.

I hope to God I am right; I am betting my personal financial future on it. While, at first glance, the closure of the Boston Phoenix worries me, Peter Kadzis’ words about applause by readers and local advertisers—combined with the fact that the papers in Portland and Providence live on, and will even be adding staff—give me hope.

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!

This Friday at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino, swing will be the thing.

“Swing” is the name the ABC Recovery Center’s Annual Firestone Award Gala, starring the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and honoring John Schwarzlose, the CEO of the Betty Ford Center.

Kate Burke, of the ABC Recovery Center, said the event is part-fundraiser, part-celebration, and part-awareness-raiser—and the fact that this is the center’s 50th anniversary makes the event even more significant.

“We want to say, ‘Look, over 50 years, we’ve become a trusted member of the recovery community,” she said. … “This work is blood, sweat and tears. There plenty of tragedies in our line of work. People don’t work here for the money; they work in recovery because there’s hope, and lives can be saved.”

The Firestone Award—named after Ambassador Leonard K. Firestone, a co-founder of the Betty Ford Center, and a major contributor to the expansion of ABC—was first given to Betty Ford back in 1999. Therefore, it makes sense to now honor Schwarzlose, a friend of the late Ambassador Firestone.

“It seems only fitting, given the 30th anniversary of the Betty Ford Center and ABC Recovery Center's 50th, that John's tireless commitment to recovery would be honored,” said ABC president and CEO J. David Likens in a news release. “ABC has had a very special kinship with the Betty Ford Center over the past 30 years; and that is something to celebrate!"

The event starts at 6 p.m., Friday, March 15, with dinner and the silent auction. (Actually, that’s only partially correct; the silent auction is already under way at abcrecoverycenter.org.) Music and dancing get going at 7:30 p.m., courtesy of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, who were at the front of the ’90s swing revival with their big hit, “Zoot Suit Riot.”

The event takes place at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway in Indio. Tickets are $100, and are available by calling 342-6616.

Attendees will also have a chance to participate in a “Perinatal Auction,” in which bidders can fund baby showers for new mothers who are in recovery at ABC.

“We want to embrace the spirit of Ambassador Firestone in giving out this award,” Burke said.