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She stood in my office doorway, as palm trees from Palm Canyon Drive framed her long, dark-auburn hair. The cut of her emerald business suit clung to her curves in the all right places. The way she clutched her Kate Spade purse, I could tell something was really worrying her. Her deep hazel eyes betrayed her, showing the fear she had seen.

“What’s on your mind, doll face?” I asked as I tried to keep my eyes on her in a professional way. I have years of practice at looking at the wrong places.

With a pursing of her lips, she looked at me and said, “It’s already after 4 o’clock.” Her hands started to wring her purse tighter. “We’re going to be late for this year’s Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.”

Well, that’s how I would imagine it would go.

The 18th annual film festival takes place May 11-14, and once again, it is hosted by writer/historian Alan K. Rode at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.

“I handpick each film, hoping it’s something people will want to see,” Rode told me.

I asked him where he finds so many of these films—many of which even avid fans like me don’t know. “Warner Bros studios opened their vaults to me this year. We are presenting an extremely diverse lineup of films.”

The film festival, per usual, will feature a wide range of guests, including one on opening night—Monika Henried, the daughter of film star Paul Henried, who produced and starred in the opening-night feature: a restored print of Hollow Triumph (1948), directed by Steve Sekely and co-starring Joan Bennett. From the novel by Murray Forbes, this is a story of a casino heist gone bad, a change of identity and the troubles to which a new life can lead.

One of the jewels of the festival is Meet Danny Wilson (1952). This rarely viewed Frank Sinatra and Shelley Winters collaboration is a musical drama directed by Joseph Pevney. This is the transition film that took Sinatra from his bobby-soxer popularity to From Here to Eternity fame. Raymond Burr is also in the film as the gangster who threatens the small-time singer as he rises to the top of his profession.

For first time, the festival will be showing Split Second (1953), marking the directorial debut of Dick Powell (radio’s Richard Diamond). The film follows a group of escaped convicts and hostages hiding in a ghost town—a group that is in real danger.

Other special guests slated to participate include Richard Duryea, son of Dan Duryea, the star of Black Angel (1946). The film also stars June Vincent and Peter Lorre. Andy Robinson, a star of “neo-noir” movie Charley Varrick (1973), will be present for that film’s screening, while Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff, will attend the screening of The Body Snatcher (1945)—which, in Rode’s opinion, marks Boris’ “finest screen performance.”

The festival’s focus is not only on delighting fans of film noir; it’s meant to open new eyes, too. Rode said festival organizers have been using social media such as Facebook in an effort to entice a younger generation of fans.

“Film is not a museum piece—not a genre, style, look or feel,” Rode said. “… Now we are offering everyone the opportunity to watch in original setting and mode.”

One of the reasons the festival takes place at the Camelot is the theater still has a 35mm film projector. Festival tradition dictates that screenings are shown in that format.

“We are attempting to preserve the original movie-going experience,” Rode said.

The 18th Annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival takes place Thursday, May 11, through Sunday, May 14, at the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $13 per film, or $125 for an all-access pass. For tickets or information, visit ArthurLyonsFilmNoir.org.

Published in Previews and Features

In 2005, actor Tab Hunter released his autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. Now thanks to director Jeffrey Schwarz and Hunter’s partner, Allan Glaser, a documentary based on the book is hitting movie screens.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Tab Hunter Confidential will be screened at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, with Hunter in attendance to discuss the film at a special event benefiting the Desert AIDS Project. The film will then remain on Camelot screens for at least a week.

During a recent phone interview, Hunter explained why he decided to write the book.

“I wrote the book with a lot of hesitation, but I figured I had to do it, because someone else was going to write a book,” Hunter said. “I figured it’s better to get it from the horse’s mouth, not from some horse’s ass after I’m dead and gone, where they’ll put some spin on it. I didn’t want that. People are noted for doing that.”

Hunter, now 84, worked as a stable boy at the age of 14; that is how he met actor and agent Richard Clayton, who used to come to the barn to ride and shoot promo photographs.

“That’s where it started, where I was shoveling the real stuff out of the barn,” Hunter said. “(Clayton) discovered me there, and my career went on from there.”

Hunter’s love of films started around the same time. He said he would see films on weekend evenings after working in the barn all day.

“All those wonderful Tyrone Power films like The Black Swan and all of those things—I loved the total escapism,” he said. “I was always so locked within myself that I admired anybody who could be out there, and those films gave you a whole different vision of the world. That was really important to me when I was a kid, and you’re scared of your own shadow. Lucky, my brother helped me out a lot, but we used to go to the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara all the time.”

While Tab Hunter was best known for acting and his all-American good looks, he also recorded music as well.

“I was doing a chore with Natalie Wood for a film we had done, and I was singing,” he said. “Howard Miller, who was a huge disc jockey in Chicago, asked me, ‘Did you ever think of recording?’ And I said, ‘I sing in the shower, and everyone sounds good in the shower.’ He said, ‘I’d like to introduce you to Randy Wood at Dot Records.’ He put me in touch with Randy, and Randy heard me sing, and presented me with a tune called ‘Young Love.’ I recorded it on a Friday and heard it on the car radio while I was driving the following Monday, and almost hit a palm tree, I was so shocked. It knocked Elvis out of the No. 1 slot and stayed there for about six weeks.

“From there on, I went on to do an album. Jack Warner (of Hunter’s studio, Warner Bros.) called me in the office and he said, ‘Wait a minute! You can’t do that! We own you for everything!’ I said, ‘But Mr. Warner, you don’t have a recording company.’ He looked at me and said, ‘We do now!’ and started Warner Brothers Records. That’s amazing when you stop to think how huge that company is now.”

Hunter starred in both hits and films that flopped. However, Hunter insisted he has no regrets.

“I don’t ever wish I didn’t do anything, because I did them because it was called ‘survival,’” he said. “That’s what happens when you have bills to pay. Usually, the actor gets the blame if the picture isn’t any good. … They don’t realize the producers and the directors and all the money behind it is what makes the picture. I’ve done a lot of bad pictures, and I don’t look at those and forget them; that is just called experience. The best part is I got to work with good people—actors, writers and directors. That helps you grow.”

He said he is particularly proud of several films, however.

“I love Damn Yankees because it was my first musical,” he said. “I love That Kind of Woman because it was with Sophia Loren—need I say more? Also, it was with Sidney Lumet, who was a wonderful director. I liked Gunman’s Walk, because it was the first heavy I ever played in a film, and that’s a really great picture. But I think TV is what gave me more opportunity than movies, because the studio era was falling apart then.”

John Waters helped Tab Hunter enjoy a bit of a resurgence in the 1980s when he cast him in Polyester. Hunter also went on to star in Grease 2, and became a bit of a cult favorite with the younger generation.

“John was great,” Hunter said. “I was doing a play in Indianapolis, and I got a call one day, and it was John. He said, ‘Hello. I’m John Waters, I don’t know if you know me or not.’ I said, ‘John, I’m a major fan of yours! I love Mondo Trasho and Pink Flamingos.’ He said, ‘I have a script I’d like you to do, if I can send it to you.’ I said I had two weeks off before I had to do another play, and asked when he planned to shoot. He asked me, ‘Before we go there, how do you feel about kissing a 300-pound transvestite?’ I said, ‘I’m sure I’ve kissed a whole hell of a lot worse.’ He sent me the script; I read it. I had already met Divine at David Hockney’s party a little while earlier, and I thought he was wonderful. It was a great experience, and I loved doing that film for him. It revitalized my career.”

When the book Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star was released in 2005, it included a confession on a subject about which members of the press and many others had speculated for decades: Hunter is gay. When he looks back, he said he feels the press is still quite cruel.

“I think, ‘How sad!’ Because everything seems to be so in your face and pushed out there from a time when things were much quieter and much simpler; people didn’t discuss those things, and the word ‘gay’ wasn’t even around,” Hunter said. “They might have said something, but it was hush, hush. It was nobody’s damn business. My touch of reality in the unrealistic world of Hollywood was going out to the barn and shoveling the real crap. … People are always going to be quick to label people. The first line of my book is, ‘I hate labels.’ People were always trying to label people, and what’s much more important is that we’re all human beings. What kind of a human being are you? That’s what’s important.”

He said he misses the relative privacy the media offered stars back in his heyday.

“Everything is discussed today, and I’m not really sure I like that,” he said. “I love what Allan (Glaser) said in an interview last week. A reporter was talking about the documentary, and Allan said, ‘Yes, Tab came out of the closet and did the documentary, then turned around and closed the door behind him.’ I thought that was funny, but it was true. The documentary is about my journey, the early years, the Hollywood years, and these golden years. We’re all on a journey—but the most important question is: What kind of journey are you on?”

Tab Hunter Confidential will be shown at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, at Camelot Theatres. 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $20 and include a post-show Q&A; VIP tickets, which include a pre-screening reception, are $65.. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-6565, or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews and Features

Palm Springs is home to a higher-than-normal percentage of HIV-positive residents—and a new documentary tells the stories of some of these people living with HIV.

Desert Migration will be screened at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5 at the Camelot Theatres by the Palm Springs International Film Society.

During the 80 minutes of Desert Migration, the various subjects share their morning routines, along with bits and pieces of their stories. One of the more interesting subjects is Doc, a tattooed, pierced, muscular man who likes to do yoga in the nude, and who explains that he’s not a conventional gay man. Another subject, Will, is shown walking through his apartment and sitting in a chair reading a Bible. He explains that he’s overweight, that his penis size is inadequate, that he has poor posture, and that he is HIV positive—but it’s the sores on his back, a result of being HIV-positive, that keep him from having sexual encounters.

During a recent phone interview, director Daniel Cardone explained how the film came to be.

“I never really had a particular interest in documentaries,” Cardone said. “(I had) a general interest in film and different kinds of storytelling—so anything that would tell the story in the best way. It’s almost like the subject creates the form as to how the story is told. I thought my path was going to be in narrative filmmaking … .

“I worked with my producer, Marc Smolowitz, a couple of years prior doing a short documentary piece about living with HIV in San Francisco. I thought it might be possible to use that short piece in a longer-form feature, and that’s why I chose to do this film the way that I did it. There are no direct interviews where people talk directly into the camera, or any of those things you traditionally see in a documentary. That was me inspired by fictional narrative, but instead, I was inserting something as narrative while using a true subject. It was a hybrid between a narrative film and documentary. … I invented it as I went along, and that was the exciting part about it.”

Cardone said he’s seen the struggles that many of his friends endured due to being HIV-positive.

“Living in Palm Springs and in my own backyard, I realized that many of my friends were people who … lived through the plague years,” he said. “They lost all their friends, their whole social life, and their whole way of living was gone: They lost their jobs, houses and their health. Fortunately, everyone shown in the film managed to regain some ground to a certain degree. I was very much interested in the psychological ramifications of that.

“There have been a few films about HIV showing the terrible years and losing a lot of people in the Castro District, and How to Survive a Plague, which shows ACT UP trying to advocate to save people’s lives. I wanted to go beyond that and look at: Where are we now? And where are we now with the people who lived through all that? I wanted to dive into those aspects, especially the psychological aspect and the ongoing trauma, and how they live day after day after day, and what the medications they’re taking do their system. That was particularly important. No one really knows for sure what it’s doing to their systems.”

The issues with medications are addressed; many people don’t realize how damaging many HIV medications can be. Another topic: why some muscular HIV-positive men are maniacal about their upkeep.

“One thing about gay men is many of them are body-conscious. Another issue is when you’ve gone through HIV, and your body is wasting away,” Cordone said. “All these people you see in the film at the gym working out at some point were wasting away. They were alarmingly thin. There is one particular man in the film, Steve, who is mentioned going on steroid therapy, which promotes muscle mass and prevents his muscles from fading away. On top of that, it really does build up muscle tone—and that relates to a comment that was also made about HIV-positive men having the best bodies.”

Cardone said he wasn’t prepared for how the film changed his own perspective.

“On an intellectual level, I was sort of prepared for it, and I knew what was going to come up. You know what you’re going to find on an intellectual level,” he said. “But what surprises you is the emotional impact that it has on you. … Hearing their stories in emotional ways was really overwhelming at times. You’re sitting there re-living someone’s life with them, and they’re being completely honest and open. It’s made me a more open and emotional person and helped me put my own life into perspective—and to be grateful. Just getting into that emotional heart of the matter took me by surprise and was a really good thing about making the film.”

I wanted to hear more about some of these men’s stories—especially about a man named Ted, who mentioned he read And the Band Played On and remembered his encounter with “patient zero.” Cardone said it was hard to figure out what to use and what not to use.

“Everyone brought something to the table and was really unique in a way,” he said. “There’s a lot more to Ted … that unfortunately didn’t make it into the film. It’s where he’s been and the things he’s been through. The same with Will, the gentleman with the sores on his back, and how he feels as a result of having his skin break out like that. There’s so much there, and everyone had a complex story. The hard part was trying to fit it all into the film, because there were so many wonderful moments from everyone—joy and sadness, and everything in between. It was hard to find a balance to fit everything into the movie without shortchanging anyone, and I hope we were successful.”

The Desert AIDS Project is shown in the documentary providing health-care services to some of the subjects. Cardone said the DAP is truly unique, and no program like it exists anywhere else in the country.

“I think what they’re doing overall is extremely positive,” Cardone said. “There is nowhere else that offers what they do. No organization is perfect, but what they do for people, and how they have helped people to transform their lives, is truly magnificent. People couldn’t get access to that health care if they were living in other areas in America, and that’s sort of been the attraction for people to come to the desert. They do a lot of fundraising and raising awareness, and making sure that people with HIV who do live here don’t feel like pariahs and don’t feel like there’s no support. The dental, the checkups, the housing—there’s so many things they offer. The healthcare when you have HIV is a big deal.”

Desert Migration will be screened at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Camelot Theatres. 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15; the proceeds will benefit the Palm Springs International Film Society and the Desert AIDS Project. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-6565, or visit www.psfilmfest.org. For more information on the film, visit www.facebook.com/DesertMigration.

Published in Previews and Features

Palm Springs is well-known for its star-studded International Film Festival, held every January. However, the city also hosts a well-regarded annual LGBTQ film festival, known as Cinema Diverse—and it’s taking place at the Camelot Theatres Sept. 17-20.

Local comedian Shann Carr has been affiliated with the festival since its start, beginning as a volunteer eight years ago.

“Every city in America had an LGBTQ film festival, and Palm Springs is known for having its very own international film festival, and we were the only town without an LGBTQ film festival,” she said. “For a gay town, that’s pretty surprising.”

Through the years, Carr has seen trends in festival submissions come and go from year to year. For example, she said films on the subjects of gay marriage and equality are starting to wane.

“You watch the crest of what’s on the front-burner of our community at the given time. In the past couple of years, it’s been all gay marriage and babies,” she said. “… Now, it’s, ‘Enough about the weddings! Enough about gay rights!’ Right as we gained marriage equality, those submissions dropped right down. Television and film is how a lot of the world learned that gay people aren’t scary people. It really is about education.”

What’s a current trend in festival submissions?

“The transgender issue has now come up,” she said. “… I haven’t seen a lot of (the films focusing on transgender issues), but I know there are a handful of them, as well as some shorts. Last year, one of the most talked-about shorts was called Brace, and it was about a transgender man who was at a bar, and this guy started liking him, and they started liking each other—and then the other guy found out the man was transgender.”

Carr has seen the festival’s Opening Night centerpiece film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato.

“The opening film is amazing. It’s about a Russian gay man, and it’s beautiful,” she said. “He speaks with a thick Russian accent throughout the entire film, and so much amazing stuff comes out of it. It’s a story about a Russian filmmaker in the ’30s who comes through the United States and learns he can make a film for next to nothing in Mexico. He spends a visa period filming 200 miles of film and discovering his sexuality—and he’s a virgin at 33. There’s a bit of frontal nudity, and as a lesbian watching it, I thought, ‘Innocent, playful penis!’ It was a beautiful, interesting, artistic penis.”

Carr said there is something she wishes there was less of at the festival: the divide between the sexes. However, she conceded the divide is real.

“I didn’t want to see a men’s compilation and a women’s compilation,” she said. “As I took a handful of people into a screening … as soon as the guys got down to it for a sex scene, the women were like, ‘Do I have to watch this?’ The guys are all like, ‘LET’S GO! WOO HOO! … As much as I was trying to push them into that progress, they weren’t having it at all.”

Considering all the positive changes taking place in the LGBTQ community, I asked Carr whether an LGBTQ film festival will still be necessary and needed in a decade.

“I think so, because humans are like this, and animals are like this: They see their reflection, and they want to belong, be affirmed, be enlightened,” she said. “… It’s an explanation of the changes we’re seeing, but I don’t see us completely going to the cliff and falling over. Ethnic groups still want to see each other and congregate with each other.”

Cinema Diverse takes place from Thursday, Sept. 17, through Sunday, Sept. 20, primarily at the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets range from $13 for individual screenings to $159 for an all-festival pass. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-6565, or visit cinemadiverse.org.

Published in Previews and Features

Comedy

Gabriel Iglesias

The famously fluffy comedian performs. 8 p.m., Saturday, May 2; and 6 p.m., Sunday, May 3. $45 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Film

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival

This unique festival features an eclectic mixture of landmark and obscure vintage movies from the classic film noir era. Various times and prices, Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. Arthurlyonsfilmnoir.ning.com.

Music

Dueling Pianos

America’s top dueling-pianos show returns for one night only of energetic song, fun and audience participation by two extremely talented piano performers. What makes this show unique? The audience chooses all the songs. The audience also chooses what not to play and when to stop. 7 p.m., Saturday, May 2. $10. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up, and the live music continues until midnight. Friday, May 1: Tribute to Duran Duran. Saturday, May 2: Tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers. Saturday, May 9: Tribute to Queen. Friday, May 15: Tribute to ZZ Top. Saturday, May 16: Tribute to Van Halen. Saturday, May 23: Tribute to Prince. Saturday, May 30: Tribute to Guns N’ Roses. Call for other shows. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

For the Love of Broadway With Carole Cook

Meet a true Broadway star, Carole Cook, of 42nd Street and TV shows The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23; and 1 p.m., Sunday, May 24. $30. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Grooves at the Westin: Hiroshima

Grammy-nominated Hiroshima creates a musical world all its own. The intoxicating mix of traditional Japanese folk music and instruments interwoven with jazz, R&B, salsa and more has been a pioneering voice in contemporary music since the 1970s. 7 p.m., Saturday, May 16. $45 and up. Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage. 760-770-2150; www.westinmissionhills.com.

Vanessa Sheldon, Harpist, With PSHS Orchestra

Vanessa Sheldon will perform a variety of solo harp music and the Handel Concerto with the Palm Springs High School Orchestra. Soloists from the high school will also be featured on flute, saxophone and viola. 4 p.m., Sunday, May 10. $15. Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church, 47321 Highway 74, Palm Desert. 760-861-0350; www.gold2ivory.com.

Special Events

AIDS Assistance Program’s Evening Under The Stars Gala

The 22nd annual Evening Under the Stars gala will feature a performance by music legend Darlene Love, followed by dancing to a high-energy band. Love has had several Billboard hits and was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie Twenty Feet From Stardom. The event includes cocktails, dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions of extraordinary trips, one-of-a-kind collectibles, marvelous merchandise and more. 5:30 p.m., Saturday, May 9. $395 and up. O’Donnell Golf Club, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org/evening-under-the-stars.php.

Brew at the Zoo

"Save Wildlife One Beer at a Time." Enjoy a sampling of handcrafted beers, food and live entertainment from more than 50 local breweries and restaurants. Proceeds help The Living Desert care for more than 500 animals and 1,600 protected acres, and provide scholarship programs for thousands of visiting school children. 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 2. $50; $40 members; $125 VIP. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org/event/brew-at-the-zoo.

Discover Indio Block Party

Join the city of Indio and the Indio Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Indio with a free community block party. Included in the festivities will be a motorcycle show, classic car show, carnival rides, food trucks, barbecue, kids activities, mini-train rides, art installations, live bands and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 16. Free. Indio Chamber of Commerce, 82921 Indio Blvd., Indio. 760- 347.0676; indiochamber.org.

The Geology of Gold and Silver

This lecture by D.D Trent, a professor emeritus at Citrus College, is part of the Old School House Lecture Series, which started in 1999 and is run in partnership with the Twentynine Palms Historical Society. 7 p.m., Friday, May 8. $5 at the door. Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms. 760-367-5535.

Memorial Day Flower Drop and Air Fair

This special day at the Palm Springs Air Museum includes a brief memorial service dedicated to all of our fallen comrades, who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. In their honor is a fly-by and flower drop of more than 3,000 red and white carnations from a B-25 Mitchell bomber. 1 p.m., Monday, May 25. $16 with discounts. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-778-6262; palmspringsairmuseum.org.

Visual Arts

Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu

This exhibition of art by prominent Chinese artist Hung Liu features more than 65 works, including 34 large-scale paintings, ephemera (sketch books, photos, informal paintings) and studies from private and public collections from around the world. On display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday, through Sunday, May 24. $12.50, with various discounts and free periods. Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

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

Published in Local Fun

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015!

Here’s how these results came to be: Between Aug. 29 and Oct. 3, Coachella Valley Independent readers voted at CVIndependent.com in an open ballot in the categories listed below.

No finalists were selected in advance; readers had to write in their selections.

We then took the top three to five finishers in each category and put them on a final-round ballot, which ran at CVIndependent.com from Oct. 8 to Nov. 7. 

Readers had to provide an email address, and were allowed to submit only one ballot in each round. We sent an email to each voter; if the email bounced, we did not count the ballot associated with that email address.

Here are the results of this first-ever Coachella Valley Independent readers’ poll.

Enjoy!


Arts

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Gallery 446

3. Heather James Fine Art

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Stewart Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Show at Agua Caliente

4. The Hood Bar and Pizza

5. The Date Shed

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. Backstreet Arts District

 

Best Local Band

Queens of the Stone Age

 

Runners up:

2. Machin’

3. The Rebel Noise

4. TIE

CIVX

Slipping Into Darkness

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. All Night Shoes

3. House Whores

4. TIE

CoffeeBlvck

Femme A

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Mark Gregg

3. Giselle Woo

4. Charles Herrera

5. Gene Evaro Jr.

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Elena Bulatova

 

Runners up:

2. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

3. Michael Weems

4. Jennifer Stern

5. Lon Michels

 

Best Movie Theater

Camelot Theatres

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford

4. Regal Palm Springs

5. Century Theatres at The River

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley History Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

5. Palm Springs Art Museum Palm Desert

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs

5. The Palms Restaurant


Life in the Valley

Best Alternative Health Center

Stroke Recovery Center

 

Runners up:

2. Nature’s Health Food and Café

3. All-Desert Wellness Centers

4. Live Well Clinic

5. Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres

3. Old Town La Quinta

4. Palm Desert (Chamber of Commerce)

5. Joshua Tree Certified

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. Shelter From the Storm

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Gym

Gold’s Gym Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. World Gym Palm Springs

3. World Gym Palm Desert

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. 24 Hour Fitness

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Mayor Steve Pougnet

3. County Commissioner John Benoit

4. Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez

5. Assemblyman Brian Nestande

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Power Yoga

5. Evolve Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Lanes at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Not So Innocent

 

Runners up:

2. Skitzo Kitty

3. Q Trading Company`

4. Gay Mart

5. Red Panties Boutique

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. Performance Plus Automotive

3. TIE

Chuck’s Automotive

European Auto Service

Palm Springs Tire and Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

TIE

Airport Quick Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash (pictured)

 

Runners up:

3. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

4. Executive Car Wash

5. Red Carpet USA Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Cactus Mart

5. Moorten Botanical Gardens

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Cold Nose Warm Heart

5. Exotic Birds

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars, by the AIDS Assistance Program

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk, by the Desert AIDS Project

3. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, by the Desert AIDS Project

4. Paint El Paseo Pink, by the Desert Cancer Foundation

5. Center Stage, by the LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Spotlight 29

5. Augustine Casino

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. CBS Local 2

3. KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

 

Runners up:

2. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

3. John White, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Brooke Beare, CBS Local 2

5. Thalia Hayden, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Big 106 (KPLM)

3. KDES FM 98.5

4. TIE

KWXY FM 107.3

K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

 

Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Joey English, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, EZ-103

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Best Buy

4. Barnes and Noble

5. Video Depot

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Hoodoo

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Video Game Store

GameStop

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Video Depot

Walmart

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Saguaro

5. Renaissance Palm Springs


Fashion and Style

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Glossy Boutique

3. R&R Men’s Wear

4. Fine Art of Design

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Resale Therapy

3. Angel View

4. The POP Shop

5. Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Plummers

 

Runners up:

2. Ashley Furniture HomeStore

3. Marc Russell Interiors

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Gypsyland

4. Pioneer Crossing Antiques

5. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus Jewelry

5. ASC Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Heads Up Hair Designs

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Turquoise A Salon

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

DHS Spa Hotel

 

Runners up:

2. JW Marriott Desert Springs

3. Studio M

4. The Canyon Spa

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Jensen’s

5. Blooming Events

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Bloodline Tattoo

TG Tattoo

5. Flagship Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. TIE

Elegant Eye Optometry

Oh La La de Paris Eyeware

5. Desert EyeCare Center


Outside!

Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo

 

Runners up:

2. Downtown Palm Springs (general)

3. College of the Desert

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten Botanical Gardens

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness (Top of the Tram)

4. Salton Sea State Recreation Area

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto

4. Tahquitz Canyon

5. Mission Creek Preserve

 

Best Park

Whitewater Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Wellness Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Off the Grid

4. Second Amendment Sports

5. Walmart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Sports Authority

4. Lumpy’s

5. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek

3. Indian Wells

4. Eagle Falls

5. Escena


For the Kids

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. La Quinta Park

5. Whitewater Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Mr. G’s for Kids

 

Runners up:

2. Toys “R” Us

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Goodwill

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Janie and Jack

4. Goodwill

5. Justice

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Ruby’s

4. Islands

5. Dickie O’Neal’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

Wet ’n’ Wild

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Boomers!

Rock-N-Roll Mini Golf

4. Palm Desert Aquatic Center

5. Chuck E. Cheese

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Children’s Discovery Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese

3. Boomers!


Food and Restaurants

Best Casual Eats

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sherman’s

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

LuLu/Acqua Pazza

 

Runners up:

2. Lynn Hammond

3. Fusion Flair

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Savoury’s

 

Best Diner

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sunshine Café

4. Rick’s

5. John’s

 

Best Organic Food Store

Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Sprouts Farmers Market

Whole Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Appetito

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Pastry Swan Bakery

3. Sherman’s

4. Exquisite Desserts

5. Jensen’s

 

Best Desserts

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Crave (now Plate | Glass)

5. French Corner Café

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Lique at Fantasy Springs

5. Ben and Jerry’s

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Hadley Fruit Orchards

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

Tutti Frutti

 

Runners up:

3. Beach House

4. Yogurt on Tap

5. Cactusberry + Frozen Treats

 

Best Bakery

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

4. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

5. TKB Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s

 

Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Cowboy Way

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Big Willie’s Catering

 

Best Burger

In-n-Out

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s

4. Tyler’s

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Grill-A-Burger

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Woody’s

Ruby’s Diner

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Aspen Mills

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Giuseppe’s

5. Ciro’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. LuLu California Bistro

4. Bar

5. Village Pub

 

Best Bagels

New York Bagel and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s

4. Townie Bagels

5. Bagel Bistro

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Juice It Up

4. Jamba Juice

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Buffet

Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3 TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

3. Old Town Coffee Company

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Starbucks

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Ernest Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Tea

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Ristretto

4. Old Town Coffee Company

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Breakfast

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Cheeky’s

3. Sunshine Café

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Louise’s Pantry

 

Best California Cuisine

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO

3. Acqua Pazza California Bistro

4. Jake’s

5. POM—The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Brunch

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Pinocchio’s

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Best Chinese

Wang’s in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. China Wok

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. New Fortune

5. Supreme Dragon

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Miro’s Restaurant

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

Pomme Frite

4. La Brasserie

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Runners up:

2. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

3. Gyoro Gyoro

4. Otori Japanese Cuisine

5. No Da Te

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s

 

Runners up:

2. Giuseppe’s

3. Il Corso

4. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante

5. Mimmo’s

 

Best Sushi

Wasabi

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Edoko Sushi

5. The Venue

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Ruben and Ozzy’s

3. Shanghai Reds

4. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

5. Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Chop House

3. Mastro’s

4. The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

5. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile Rancho Mirage

3. Peppers Thai

4. Le Basil

5. Thai Kitchen 1

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Bangkok Noodles

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Figue Mediterranean Cuisine (no longer in business)

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Spencer’s

4. Las Casuelas Terraza

5. The Falls

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Village Pub

3. Bar

4. Alicante

5. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel

 

Best Mexican

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. El Gallito

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. La Tablita

5. Tlaquepaque

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Maracas

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Margaritas

 

Best Burrito

El Gallito

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

La Tablita

Santana’s

4. El Taco Asado

5. Jalisco Restaurant


Spirits and Nightlife

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. The Beer Hunter

Eureka!

4. Village Pub

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Local Brewery

TIE

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runner up:

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

TIE

Hunters

Palm Springs Lanes

 

Runners up:

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Sharky’s Family Billiards

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Purple Room

3. Eureka!

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Streetbar

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

4. Score

5. Digs

 

Best Happy Hour

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. LuLu California Bistro

3. TIE

Hunters

Stuft Pizza

5. Village Pub

 

Best Dive Bar

Neil’s Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Score

4. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Maracas

5. Blue Coyote Grill

 

Best Martini

The Falls

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Copley’s

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Nightclub

Hunters

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. LIT at Fantasy Springs

4. TIE

Schmidy’s Tavern

Village Pub

 

Best Sports Bar

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

2. Yard House

3. The Beer Hunter

4. TIE

Tilted Kilt

Village Pub

 

Best Wine Bar

3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

Zin American Bistro

4. Wine Bar Bistro

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

4. Fame Lounge

5. LQ Wine

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Schmidy’s Tavern

5. Copa


Staff Picks

Best Story From an Annual Festival

“The Moneymaker”

A woman who appears to be about 65 and who is here for the American Heat Bike Weekend event in downtown Palm Springs comes in to Crystal Fantasy and wants to use some tape, because her “moneymaker” is broken. I give her some packing tape, and she takes something out of her pocket she is trying to fix.

After a few moments, she says, “OK, I’ll see if it works”—and proceeds to swallow a foot-long (now-taped) all-beef hot dog down her throat; she then pulls it out of her mouth. The tape wasn’t really sticking, and all I had otherwise was some purple duct tape.

That seemed to do the job. She very professionally deep-throated the hot dog, thanked us and left.

—Joy Brown Meredith, as told to the Palm Springs Neighborhoods Group on Facebook, adapted with permission by Jimmy Boegle


Best Band Militia

Machin’

I first met David Macias of Machin’ for an interview at Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, and I was rather surprised when he told me about what he called the “Machin’ Militia”—the band’s loyal fans who turn up for their shows.

Well, I’ve seen Machin’ perform several times over the last year—and I’m not surprised that the Machin’ Militia is growing rapidly.

Perhaps David’s military background explains his terminology. He was born in Mexico and completed two deployments to Iraq as a Navy corpsman. When he gets together with classically trained violinist Bri Cherry and upright-bass-player/accordionist Andy Gorrill, they make attention-grabbing music that combines Latin, hip-hop and rock sounds. Their sound is instantly recognizable wherever they go.

Crowds of all sorts adore Machin’. They have a weekly residency at the Purple Room in Palm Springs; they busk on street corners in various places while on tour. Wherever Machin’ is, people can’t help but clap or dance along when the group performs.

Machin’ is truly what the name means in Spanglish slang—supremely excellent.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Food and Drink Trend That’s Finally Arrived in the Valley

Craft Cocktails

Tucson, Ariz., the city in which I used to live, is the home of one of the leaders in the craft-cocktail revolution. Scott and Co.—a speakeasy-style bar that’s received national attention for its amazing and innovative drinks—was perhaps the place I missed the most when I moved to the desert several years ago.

Look at the Best Cocktail finalists here, and you’ll see why I used to miss Scott and Co. so damned much: When I first started making preparations to move here, four of the five finalists picked by our readers weren’t yet in existence.

Today, however, I don’t miss Scott and Co. all that much—because over the last couple years, the craft-cocktail revolution has belatedly arrived in the Coachella Valley. In addition to our readers’ five Best of Coachella Valley finalists (great picks, readers!), you can find fantastic hand-crafted beverages at locations all across the valley, from Indian Wells’ Vue Grille and Bar, to retro-tiki newcomers Tonga Hut and Bootlegger Tiki in downtown Palm Springs, to Citron at the Viceroy (pictured), also in Palm Springs.

Cheers, folks. The local craft-cocktail scene is getting better by the month.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Local Social Trend

The Increasingly Busy Summer

Let’s face facts: The business and tourism cycle in the Coachella Valley will always have seasonal highs and lows. The power of the weather is undeniable: Temps in the 70s and 80s will always draw people to the valley during the winter, and temps in the 110s will always push people out during the summer.

However, that seasonality is beginning to lessen—just a little.

I live in downtown Palm Springs, and last summer, the streets near my home weren’t as lonely as they used to be in years past. In fact, on some summer weekend nights, Palm Canyon Drive foot traffic was even something approaching busy. (Not April busy, but still.) The reason? More people are starting to brave the toasty temps to come to the valley, thanks to great events like Splash House (which was so nice, they did it twice during the summer of 2014; pictured), fantastic deals (like those offered during Restaurant Week) and the realization that the slower summer pace here has its benefits. (No snowbirds on Highway 111?! YES!)

Can one argue that the Best Season here in the Coachella Valley is, in fact, the summer? No … we won’t go that far. But the summers here are certainly not as dead as they used to be—and that’s something worth celebrating.

—Jimmy Boegle

Photo credits: Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash courtesy of elephant-carwash.com. The Living Desert courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB. Machin’ courtesy of Chris Miller via Machin’ Facebook. Splash House by Guillermo Prieto/IROCKPHOTOS.NET.

Published in Readers' Picks

Film

Cinema Diverse: The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

A varied combination of feature films, documentaries and short films created by and/or about thematic issues related to the LGBT community is shown Thursday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 21. Individual screenings $13; all-access $149. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-6565; cinemadiverse.org.

Comedy

Comedy Night Palm Springs

Shelagh Ratner, of Lifetime TV’s Prank My Mom, and Matthew Moore, of Caroline’s on Broadway in New York, perform at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. $20. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

George Lopez

The multi-talented entertainer whose career encompasses television, film, standup comedy and late-night television performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. $39 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Michael Walters as Dame Edna

Get ready, possums! Back by popular demand, celebrity impersonator Michael Walters as Dame Edna returns to the Purple Room. Barry Humphries, the original creator of Dame Edna, calls Walter’s show “spectacular.” 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6; 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 7; 5:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12; and 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14. $25. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Music

Burger Records Presents Burger Oasis

Burger Records heads to the desert for Burger Oasis, a full weekend of sundrenched vibrations and garage-rock sounds with live sets by the pool and in the Amigo Room. Music starts at 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6, in the Amigo Room; and goes from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7, poolside. Free; pool parties open to hotel guests only. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Friday, Sept. 6: Tribute to AC/DC. Friday, Sept. 13: Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Friday, Sept. 20: Tribute to Pink Floyd. Friday, Sept. 27: Tribute to Journey. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concerts

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19: Van Halen. Friday, Sept. 26: Journey. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

God Save the Queen: A Celebration of Queen

The legendary band is given tribute at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Janelle Monae

The soul/R&B singer performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12. $45 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano

The Grammy Award-winning ensemble performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $25 to $45. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Peter Frampton

The 1970s legend performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. $50 to $70. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Ramon Ayala

The norteño legend takes the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Special Events

Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend

The third annual Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend celebrates the microbrewers, hop heads, cask masters and maltsters who make the world a better place for beer-lovers. Friday night includes a five-course feast with beer pairings. Saturday afternoon is a pool party and barbecue with craft beer tastings and live music. Dinner at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12 ($50); pool party from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 ($15, or $30 with beer-tasting). Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com.

Club Fore Kids Golf Tournament

This fourth annual golf tournament, sponsored by the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs. Lunch and raffle prizes included. 8 a.m., Monday, Sept. 15. $195. Escena Golf Club, 1100 Clubhouse View Drive, Palm Springs. $195. Palmspringshospitality.org/events.htm.

Desert Haiku Writing in Joshua Tree National Park

Be inspired by the power and beauty of the desert setting to learn how to write haiku and other types of poetry in this writing-intensive field seminar. Participants will take brief walks and be introduced to the ecologic and cultural/historical richness of the desert. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $70 regular; $60 Joshua Tree National Park Association members. Joshua Tree Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org.

Fine Art Photography in Joshua Tree National Park

Immerse yourself in the wonders of Joshua Tree National Park and connect with the enchantment to be found there. The content of this workshop will focus not only on the mechanics of photography, but also on personal interpretation and expression. Bring camera equipment, camping equipment and enthusiasm. Friday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 21. $170 regular; $160 for Joshua Tree National Park Association members. Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Drive, Joshua Tree. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org.

Palm Springs Cultural Art, Food and Wine Festival

The event provides cultural art, exotic foods, eclectic jewelry, music and wine. 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14. Call for admission information; VIP tickets $25. Renaissance Palm Springs, 888 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. 760-413-1125.

Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium

A landmark celebration with visionary leaders whose work has pioneered our understanding of the unity of psyche and matter. Embrace a heart-shaped world through science, art, psychology and embodied practice. The weekend features Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock. Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14. $327 to $347. Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Matterpsyche.net.

Visual Arts

A Grand Adventure: American Art in the West

The epic 19th-century landscape paintings of Yosemite and Yellowstone by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran introduced the American public to the grandeur of the West. By the turn of the century, a new genre of Western art had developed. A Grand Adventure brings together 40 significant classic and traditional artworks from private collections. The artworks span nearly 100 years, dating from the latter half of the 19th century through the early decades of the 20th century. The exhibit opens Saturday, Sept. 27, and will remain on display through Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. Included with regular admission prices. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, 72567 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-346-5600; www.psmuseum.org/palm-desert.

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

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

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

Published in Local Fun

More than 500 adoring fans filled the large, sold-out auditorium at the Camelot Theatres one spring evening, with several hundred others sent home, disappointed by the fact that they could not buy tickets to the show featuring a true living legend.

Inside, 88-year-old Kaye Ballard had her Going Out of Business audience in hysterics, laughing to the point of bellyache. I counted at least five standing ovations before the incredibly talented lady rode her tricked-out scooter up the aisle, passing a standing, cheering audience—leaving the stage for perhaps the last time. After all, the one-night-show was billed as her possible final performance.

The thought of the Rancho Mirage resident packing up her tuba and denying her fans her amazing wit is unimaginable. Here’s hoping the “right” script comes along, or she decides to be like Cher, whose perpetual “last tour” is seemingly an annual event.

When I asked the actress, singer and comedian if she’d allow me to do an interview, she graciously agreed. Here are some of the highlights of our chat.

When did you begin your career in showbiz? How old were you, and what was your first paying job?

I knew I wanted to perform by the time I was 5, and even before graduating high school, I began to find work doing imitations of my favorite stars. I worked all around Ohio. I did burlesque and vaudeville … and before I discovered my true love of musical theater, I toured with the Spike Jones Orchestra for two years as the featured vocalist and tuba-player.

Was your family supportive of your love of the stage and acting?

To my mother’s horror, I wanted to be in show business. This notion was contrary to every conventional belief she possessed! Mama did her best to dislodge this foreign idea from my head: “You’re too ugly. You can’t be in show business the way you look!” She’d say, “Have a cannoli.” If my mother ever felt maternal pride in any of my achievements, she never shared those feelings with me. In fact, in the early years of my career, no member of my family came to any of my performances. My mother always gave the tickets I’d given her to the butcher or a neighbor. I don’t think she wasn’t proud of me. In her own strange way, giving those tickets away was her way of showing her pride. Crazy, huh? I grew to feel sorry for Mama. … She never had the life she’d wanted. She simply did the best she knew how to do, with what was given to her.

My biggest support at home came from my grandmother. When I told Nana I wanted to be in show business, she said, “Go on, go. But, I no wan-a you to smoke, and you no show your legs.” I kept my word, and to this day, no audience has ever seen my legs.

What was your favorite role, and why?

You’d think that someone who has been in the theater as long as I have would find it difficult to choose a favorite role. Not me: My favorite role ever is the indomitable “Mama Rose” in perhaps the most perfectly written show in all of musical comedy history, Gypsy. What a thrill, and what a workout! I’ve played Mama Rose twice, and both times, I’ve found her to be the most exhausting, most rewarding character I’ve come across in the theater.

How many Broadway shows did you do? Films? TV shows?

Lots. LOTS. Lots! I did lots of shows on Broadway: Carnival!, The Pirates of Penzance and The Golden Apple. I did Broadway, and then I did off-Broadway. I always stayed until the end of the show’s run. I did 150 Tonight Show (episodes) altogether. I did The Jack Parr Show, The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, The Steve Allen Show, The Perry Como Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Mike Douglas Show and The Muppet Show.

When I realize how much I’ve done … I’ve lived a long time! I’ve always worked in show business. … I never took another kind of job. I appeared in dumps just to keep working. I did vaudeville, Vegas with Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis, Tony Bennett, Ann-Margret … films … worked in nightclubs. And I’ve written a book, How I Lost 10 Pounds in 53 Years.

It’s been rumored that you and Marlon Brando were very close friends. Is it true?

As to your question about Marlon: I found him irresistibly attractive … and yes, we had a brief affair. He was lighthearted and hilarious … we had a wonderful time. When the physical part of the relationship was over, we became good friends and often had dinner together. He was intellectual and refined. However, there was a macho, even chauvinistic side to him. He did not believe that monogamy was natural … and felt that men were meant to sow their seed in many different directions, and my Lord, he certainly did! (Big laugh.) Not that I wasn’t tempted to be one of those directions—come on, he was stunningly gorgeous! But on the off chance the baby would look like me, I couldn’t take the chance! (Laughs.) The last time I spoke with him, I told him I was writing a book, and that I could recall every moment I’d spent with him. He replied, “Every little moment, Kaye? I can’t even remember who I’ve slept with!” (Laughs.) I sent Marlon a card for his 80th birthday, and that was the last contact I had with him. The sensation of losing a friend is unreal, even more so when the friend happens to be an icon, and the world mourns along with you.

Who are your favorite contemporary actors and singers?

We can’t dismiss Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt … and of course, I adore George Clooney. I was on a series with him … before he got ER. His life changed dramatically after that.

Your career has included performances for the British royal family. You entertained President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1987. You’ve starred multiple times on Broadway and sung at some of the most prestigious nightclubs around the world. You’ve done films and television, and made millions of people laugh. What do you want to do next?

Well, I want to do one good movie—one thing that I could say I did my best! If I die, I’ll really be furious, because I still haven’t done what I consider my best yet!

Below: Shecky Greene, Carol Channing and Kaye Ballard speak to a fan. Photo by Alexis Hunter. Above right. Kaye Ballard with four-legged friend Jacqleen. Photo by Kate Porter. 

Published in Local Fun

The Camelot Theatres are the home of one helluva LGBT film festival this weekend.

Cinema Diverse, the annual Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, takes place at the Camelot this Thursday through Sunday, and it’s packed with compelling independent films, all of which have a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered theme.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Compelling independent film” is often code for “well-meaning but mediocre.” However, those of us at Independent World Headquarters can personally vouch for these three films, because we’ve watched them, or at least know enough about them to know they’re worthy. (Unfortunately, unless you’ve managed to clone yourself, you’ll only be able to catch two of these three films this weekend—because two of them overlap.)

Cinema Diverse, featuring a wide variety of LGBT features and shorts from the morning through night, takes place Thursday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 22, with all screenings at the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. All-access passes including the opening night reception are $169; all-access passes sans the reception are $149. Individual tickets for most screenings are $13, although the Southern Baptist Sissies opening screening is $15; or $35 for both the film and the opening-night reception. (More on that in a minute.)

Get a complete schedule and ticket info at cinemadiverse.org. Summaries of the three films we recommend are below; scroll down to view trailers for each.

Southern Baptist Sissies

5:30 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. screening, Thursday, Sept. 19

OK, this is the one we have not seen, but the trailer is so compelling, and the cast is so incredible (Leslie Jordan!) that we’re recommending it. This is a filmed theatrical performance of Del Shores’ renowned play about four gay boys who grow up in the Southern Baptist Church. Each of the young men deals with his sexuality—and his religion, which strictly forbids it—in a different way. At turns hilarious and poignant, this is a play/film you’ll want to see. As a special treat, Shores and some of the cast members will appear at a pre-film reception to kick off the festival.

Hot Guys With Guns

7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20

Danny Lohman (Marc Anthony Samuel) is a struggling actor who is taking private-investigator lessons to help him get a gig. However, when his slacker ex-boyfriend, Pip (Brian McArdle), becomes a victim of a robbery at a sex party, he and Pip—with the help of Danny’s crusty PI teacher (Alan Blumenfeld)—decide they should investigate. The film is touching, implausible, hilarious and downright enjoyable—with a fair amount of male eye candy.

Heterosexual Jill

7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20

Michelle Ehlen writes, directs and stars in this amusing and quirky film—it’s sort of a sequel to Ehlen’s Butch Jamie—centering on Jamie, an actress (Ehlen) who is in the cast of an odd film starring a cat. (Ehlen’s costumes are hilarious.) Her ex-girlfriend, Jill (Jen McPherson), is part of an ex-lesbian support group—and Jill then decides, somewhat neurotically, to date Jamie to prove she is no longer attracted to women. A subplot follows two of Jamie’s cast members—a gay man and a straight woman—who are lusting over the same man. And then something weird happens when Jamie accidentally sees a penis. I know this description doesn’t make sense at all, but trust me: It works. Go see it.

Published in Previews and Features