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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Everybody knew the U.S. Supreme Court would be ruling on the gay-marriage question sometime in late June.

However, nobody was sure what the decision would be—and nobody was sure when it would be announced.

Of course, now we all know: On Friday, June 26, in a narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. The ruling means that, effectively, same-sex marriage is now legal in 50 states.

How fitting it was that the ruling was announced on June 26—the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2013, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and legalized (for the second time) same-sex marriage in California by effectively throwing out Proposition 8. It's also the same day that in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. 

On Friday night, hundreds of people showed up at Francis Stevens Park in downtown Palm Springs for a rally that had been planned for weeks—albeit with the date TBA—by the LGBT Center of the Desert. Below is a gallery of photos from the momentous celebration.

Photos by Tommy Hamilton/Tommy Locust photography.

Published in Snapshot

Bella da Ball is one of the valley’s most ubiquitous (in a good way) entertainers.

The hostess with the mostess can be found every Monday hosting Trivia Night at the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. (Full disclosure: The Independent usually has a strong contingent present at the Ace Trivia Night.) Every Tuesday, Bella hosts a Cabaret Variety Revue at Georgie’s Alibi Azul Patio. And since January, Bella has hosting a brand-new show each week—Lipstick Thursdays, at the Copa.

“It’s a high-energy, fun mix,” said Bella da Ball—whose alter ego is Brian Wanzek (or is it the other way around?)—about the 90-minute show. “It’s primarily drag, and there are vocalists who come in and do some numbers.”

Bella said the performers primarily work the main floor, rather than the Copa’s long stage, so they can get up-close and personal with the audience.

“It’s a fun, audience-participation type of thing,” she said. “People love the costumes, the headdresses, the sequins, and the props, like hula hoops and guitars.”

Whereas the long-running Tuesday show at Georgie’s Alibi features a variety of musical genres and multiple vocalists, Lipstick Thursdays at the Copa focus more on drag and contemporary pop music.

“It’s more high-energy, more in-your-face, and more of a party,” Bella said.

Even though drag is the focus at Lipstick Thursdays—regular performers include Marina Mac, Jersey Shore, Pinkie Meringue Shimmer (all of whom will perform on April 30), Sassy Ross, Rickie Lee and Cherilyn—vocalists are also a key part of the show, including a rotation among talents including Carol Kamenis, Keisha D. and Thursday, April 30, performer Charles Herrera.

Don’t let the drag focus fool you: Bella said Lipstick Thursdays draw a mixed crowd—even including corporate parties.

“They brought boas and light sticks, and were singing, and clapping, and dancing, and partying,” Bella said about a recent corporate group. “The vast majority of people who go out to shows can appreciate this. It’s music, drag, comedy and fun.”

Bella noted that in addition to happy-hour drink specials until 9 p.m., attendees can order pizzas from Tropicale, the Copa’s sister restaurant next door. She said she hosts a great show for people to enjoy before or after Palm Springs VillageFest, too.

“People can come and relax,” Bella said. “Everybody wants to get involved.”

Lipstick Thursdays take place at the Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Doors open at 6 p.m., with an 8 p.m. show time; a DJ follows at 9:30. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Local Fun

As we head into July, we can expect the summer to become even more unbearable. Therefore, we recommend these fun events to get you out of the house—and keep you cool.

The first thing worth mentioning: The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club in Palm Springs is now open! At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 3, the venue will be holding a Pre-July 4th Party with DJs inside the Hacienda. There is no cover charge. On Friday, July 4, the Hacienda will continue the free party, this time at the pool, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, July 6, also from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., DJs Yolanda Be Cool (right) and Overjoy will be performing, and again, there is no cover. These events are for those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

The Desert AIDS Project is marking its 30th birthday with its annual Mid-Summer Dance Party at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club’s Commune from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. Playing at the event will be Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes, as well as Femme A; there will also be a special performance by Cameron Neilson of The X Factor. Tickets are $40 to $75; the late-night party pass, for entry after 10 p.m., is $20. For tickets or more information, call the Desert AIDS Project at 760-992-0440, or visit www.desertAIDSproject.org.

Speaking of the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, the venue is offering some great events in the Amigo Room on top of the regular weekly and monthly schedule. At 10 p.m., Friday, July 4, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss will be performing an Independence Day show. If you have never seen Coachella Valley local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler perform with Circle Jerks and Weirdos bassist Zander Schloss, you should go: They are a fantastic acoustic duo who always put on a great show. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Stronghold Reggae will feature DJ Journee and Dash Eye. Again, admission is free. Check out the website for even more great events. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs has added a revue show, hosted by friend of the Independent Brian Wanzek and his famous alter ego, Bella da Ball. Act II will follow The Judy Show on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. There’s no cover. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one July music event worth mentioning. The Go-Go’s will be stopping by as part of the “Replay America” tour at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Also performing will be Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and the Motels, and Cutting Crew with Naked Eyes. Tickets are $65 to $170. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a slate of excellent events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Art Garfunkel (right), half of the legendary Simon and Garfunkel, will be performing. After staying away from the stage for a few years, Garfunkel is back, and this should be a great show. Garfunkel released his last solo album, Some Enchanted Evening, back in 2007, but he has dates booked through the summer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be hearing more from Garfunkel going forward. Tickets are $29 to $59. Korean rapper Kim Jong-Kook and Haha have teamed up for a summer tour and will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 12. Tickets are $45 to $110. If you’re a fan of The Voice, you’ll be happy to know that The Voice Tour will be here at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tessanne Chin, Will Champlin, Dia Frampton and others will take the stage. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has some nice tribute acts booked in July. Gregory Wolfe will be performing a tribute to Rod Stewart at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5. Tickets are $20. Dean Colley will be paying tribute to Neil Diamond at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is shrugging off summer and putting on amazing shows throughout the season. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 2, Ronnie Spector will be performing. Spector, the famous ex-wife of music producer Phil Spector and former lead singer of the Ronettes, is the original bad girl of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 19, the Los Angeles punk band X will be stopping by for … an acoustic performance? Strange! X’s lineup includes Exene Cervenka (who recently went crazy and claimed a recent Southern California mass shooting may have been a hoax), John Doe, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake. Tickets are $27.50. At 8 p.m., Sunday, July 20, the indie-rock dance group !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk, below) will be stopping by. !!! is one of the most energetic and entertaining bands touring today. At an intimate venue like Pappy’s, their show is going to be insane. Tickets are $17. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

On rare occasions, you’ll see Brian Wanzek make a public appearance—and while Brian is a handsome and charming fellow, his alter ego, Bella da Ball, is the bigger star—so big, in fact, that she’ll be getting her own star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars later this year.

Bella can be found all over the place—for starters, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club on Monday nights, where she hosts both Sissy Bingo and Trivia Night; and at Azul/Alibi on Tuesday nights, where she hosts her Cabaret Variety Dinner Revue. And at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 1, you can find her and her amazing legs under the amazing legs of “Forever Marilyn,” where she’ll be hosting the Forever Marilyn Palm Springs Look-Alike Contest, as part of the weekly downtown Palm Springs Villagefest.

If interested in entering the contest—in categories including pets, Miss Junior Marilyn, Ms./Mrs. Marilyn, and Drag Marilyn—register by Tuesday, July 30, at forevermarilynpslookalike.eventbrite.com. Of course, it’s free to watch the goings-on.

We recently asked Bella, who hails from a little town in Southern Minnesota, to endure The Lucky 13; here are her responses.

What was the first concert you attended?

Several county and state fair concerts, but Barry Manilow sticks out in my mind.

What was the first album you owned?

Village People.

What bands are you listening to right now?

SiriusXM radio, with a focus on Studio 54 disco, Elvis, and Broadway.

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

Rap.

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

Benny Goodman.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I love to dance, swing, and spin the skirt.

What’s your favorite music venue?

So many: Annenberg (Theater at the Palm SpringsArt Museum) and McCallum (Theatre), and I can’t wait for the new Rancho Mirage Performing Arts Center at the high school.

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

The big-band song “In the Mood.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Big band and polka bands from my young years—watching my parents dance, celebrating anniversaries and community events with family and friends.

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

RuPaul: What’s your secret to looking so fab and trim?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Lookin’ for a City” by Happy Goodman Family.

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

Mame.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Baby I’m a Star,” by Tina Turner. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13