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Thu09202018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Siouxzan Perry, a graphic designer and website developer, was the manager of Tura Satana, the lead actress in the 1965 B-Movie classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

“She passed away in 2011 on my birthday,” said Perry.

Perry was devastated by the loss of her client and close friend. At Perry’s home, Tura Satana is in every room in some way—paintings, photographs, film props, movie posters and even some of her personal items.

While Perry has always been open about the fact that she’s a lesbian, she was in no rush to date. She explained that past romances have included drama, ex-girlfriend issues, and other things she didn’t want to deal with.

Then Helen Macfarlane entered her life.

“I met Helen on Facebook through a friend. I do something called ‘LP of the day.’ I’ve been doing it for five years now: I put up an LP everyday that’s absolutely hideous, and I just let everybody go with it,” said Perry.

Macfarlane, a commissioned artist and language interpreter, felt immediately connected to Siouxzan after reading her Facebook page.

“We just started to have contact. I knew she was a real person, and it wasn’t a catfish situation,” said Macfarlane.

There was only one problem with their online romance: Macfarlane, a native of New Zealand, was living in Austria, and had been for 30 years.

Perry was hesitant at first to meet Macfarlane.

“Before I knew it, she came out to visit, and she fell in love with the desert—and with me! She went back, and it took about two years to make preparations to bring her here,” said Perry.

Then came June 2013, when U.S. Supreme Court rulings struck down much of the Defense of Marriage Act, and reversed Proposition 8 in California, again legalizing gay marriage here. Macfarlane was out of the country and in the process of returning to the United States when Perry called her with the news.

They decided it was time to make that leap themselves.

“We want to be married, not just because we love each other and we know that we want to be together, but also because it will help with Helen with getting her green card and getting sponsored so she can work here,” Perry said. “Right now, she’s here on a six-month visa, and everything is going through Austria. It’s a pain.”

They are having two weddings: They enjoyed a small ceremony on Dec. 26, and early in the new year, they will go all out with a Hawaiian-themed event, featuring Hawaiian food, Hawaiian music and tiki-related items.

Meanwhile, the gay-marriage rush has led to good times for local LGBT wedding planners and officiants.

Richard Cadieux of Palm Desert, known as the “Wedding Professor” (right), said that he couldn’t be happier with the boom in business. He said he’s performed more than 900 wedding ceremonies for couples both straight and LGBT over the past 13 years, and he’s enjoyed the increase in business since June.

“On Nov. 22, I did 27 (weddings) back to back in Palm Springs under the Marilyn statue,” said Cadieux. “In November, I did 47 total. In December, I did 18. Ever since July, my business went up 400 percent.”

Cadieux said many couples rushed to tie the knot before the year’s end.

“There’s a thrust of people who are beating the clock before Jan. 1 because of tax purposes—and there’s been pent-up excitement,” he said. “The first year, I know, is going to be the heaviest year; the second year will trail down, and the third year will tail off from there.”

Still, there is the potential for Palm Springs to become a gay-wedding hub, of sorts, Cadieux said.

“We hope as a tourist destination that people come from states where it’s too cold, even if (marriage there is) legal or not, and that we develop a tourist destination for weddings here,” said Cadieux.

Cadieux has noticed trends developing regarding LGBT wedding ceremonies—some of which have been surprising.

“The ones who are spending the most money are girls,” he said. “Recently, there were a couple of women from Long Beach who were taking over the Farrell Compound. It was probably a $40,000 wedding.”

The first wave of same-sex couples who are getting married has included many couples who are older and have been together longer—25 to 50 years or more, in many cases. The Rev. Lisa Phillian, of Rainbow Weddings—she prefers to be known as The Reverend Lisa—provided one example of an older couple she married earlier this year.

“There was a gentleman—his name was George,” she said. “… He came with his oxygen tank and his partner. We made a makeshift chapel in our living room and married them in front of it. A month after they were married, his husband, Kenny, called me and said George had died. I send out 150 Christmas cards each year, and six have called me this year to inform me that their partner has passed since their weddings.”

At the same time, The Reverend Lisa has witnessed more elaborate weddings that have included the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and hot-air balloon rides in Temecula—and there was even one on a helicopter pad at a Beverly Hills hotel.

“What we try to promote to our clients is romance,” she said. “Every couple I have ever married has said they’re just doing it for the taxes, and it’s a piece of paper. Out of 150 couples, at least 125 of them have stood and cried, so it’s not just a piece of paper.”

Both Richard Cadieux and The Reverend Lisa offered some advice to couples considering taking the leap.

“A wedding is more than just flowers, cake, a venue and a reception,” said The Reverend Lisa. “Hire a good planner, and allow your event to be pleasant. Your day should be special—whether it’s small or large. … The right planner makes a difference. Also, do it in reverence. We sometimes jump at something because we’re afraid it’s going to leave. (Gay marriage) is not leaving this time.”

Richard Cadieux emphasized the importance of the wedding’s attendees.

“Talk to your partner about the guest list,” said Cadieux. “Get realistic so that feelings don’t get hurt. … I knew Harvey Milk when I was living in San Francisco, and he said, ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’ My experience is when there are a number of straight guests who have never been to a same-sex wedding, they see who we are. … If (people getting married) can invite some people who have not seen love in a same-sex marriage, it will affect their consciousness, and we will gain our rights across the country faster.”

Below: The Reverend Lisa: “I send out 150 Christmas cards each year, and six have called me this year to inform me that their partner has passed since their weddings.” Photo by Jehd Tienzo.

Dashiell Hammett is a name that’s familiar to fans of mystery novels; the prolific noir-era writer penned numerous renowned books, including several that became legendary big-screen successes.

Now Hammett is himself the subject of a novel. Hammett Unwritten, by Owen Fitzstephen (aka Gordon McAlpine), a Southern California resident, is a fictionalized account based on the late author’s life surrounding The Maltese Falcon.

The book starts out on New Year’s Eve 1959 in Long Island. At that time, it had been almost 30 years since Hammett had written a new story; he was in the midst of health issues he would not discuss. He is reviewing the obituary that he wrote for himself; we see how troubled he is over divorcing his first wife in San Francisco, and only keeping in contact with his children through support payments and the occasional phone call. Booze, smoking and women definitely had an impact on Hammett’s life.

“The Black Falcon Affair of 1922” in San Francisco is portrayed in the novel as a true story, even though the real Maltese Falcon is based on the Kniphausen Hawk (a centuries-old ceremonial pouring vessel). The mysterious statuette of a falcon with a jewel on it was said to offer the person who owned it various powers. It’s the sort of archeological artifact you’d expect to see in an Indiana Jones film. Hammett Unwritten depicts the story of the falcon as real, and suggests that Hammett was both blessed and cursed by it—and that the story itself consumed him.

As Hammett recalls his most infamous case—which also went on to be the subject of his masterpiece novel—he goes down memory lane after one of the scam artists he was involved with while cracking the original case arrives in his office. Other real-life people—including Lillian Hellman, with whom Hammett had a decades-long love affair—get worked into the plot as well. The book also has Hammett cracking his final case in the days after the House Un-American Activities Committee caught up with him and blacklisted him for his refusal to cooperate—something that really happened.

While Hammett Unwritten is well-written, the overly complex story is hard to follow at times. The book jumps around various eras of Hammett’s career, the numerous women with whom Hammett was involved, the characters related to The Maltese Falcon, and so on; at times, it’s hard to determine the era in which a particular scene is set. There are also bits and pieces of interviews that Hammett did throughout his career worked in, which muddles things even more.

Did having the mysterious falcon in his possession give the fictional Hammett the fortune and fame he enjoyed as a writer? When the fictional author gave away the falcon, did that lead to his string of bad luck? How much of this novel happened in real life, and how much of it is pure fiction? These are all questions you’ll be asking yourself after reading Hammett Unwritten.

Hammett Unwritten

By Owen Fitzstephen

Seventh Street,

160 pages, $13.95

If you’ve driven down Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs recently, you may have seen a mural being painted on a wall of an animal hospital run by Save-a-Pet.

The mural features a mountain view—the type you’d expect see in Desert Hot Springs. There are windmills on the left side, and if you look closely on the right, near some palm trees, you’ll see the street sign for the “Spa Zone” of Desert Hot Springs—along with a roadrunner. Toward the front of it all is a German shepherd, a turtle (modeled after Dozer, a turtle that lives at the Save-a-Pet shelter), and an orange tabby cat.

The painter is mural artist John Coleman. Coleman moved to the Coachella Valley about two years ago from Reno, Nev., and this is his first local mural. He said he’s looking to do more.

Coleman said that he has painted around 150 murals, most of them at public schools in the Reno area.

“I took painting in high school, and took college courses,” said Coleman. “I’m mostly self-taught. I taught myself how to paint, taught myself how to run a sprayer, and taught myself how to paint with both hands.”

What made Coleman decide to paint murals?

“I guess I would say the expression,” he said. “I had a full-time job, and I decided to do a mural for a school after visiting some killer whales, which was the subject for the mural. When I was done, I decided I wanted to paint murals for a living—so I quit my job and started painting murals.”

However, he hadn’t found it easy to catch a break here in the desert—until recently. While the DogSpa Resort in Desert Hot Springs was being built, he was part of the painting crew. Dr. Paula Terifaj, a veterinarian and owner of the DogSpa Resort, noticed his artistic talent.

“I know some of the people at Save-a-Pet, and when they bought this building last year, everyone noticed this blank wall,” said Terifaj. “I knew them, and I knew the building, (and) John said he wanted to paint a mural on it. I just called them up and asked, ‘Would you like to work with an artist for a mural?’ They wanted to see his portfolio; I gave them a copy, and they took it to the board meeting. They unanimously wanted to do it.”

The mural, of course, is much more appealing than a blank wall—especially considering that graffiti is known to be a big problem in Desert Hot Springs. As a result, the reception for the mural has been warm, with not a bit of controversy like the hubbub created over the recently painted mural at Bar in downtown Palm Springs.

“The community has been great. People drive by and honk and wave, and they’ve stopped in to talk about it,” said Coleman. “It was approved by the city of Desert Hot Springs. The (Community) and Cultural Affairs council green-lighted it, passed it on to the city, and the city had no problem. Save-a-Pet provided some paint after I donated the mural. Vista Paint in Cathedral City bought most of the paint and donated it to us.”

When it comes to Save-a-Pet as an organization, Coleman has nothing but good things to say.

“I think they’re doing great things,” he said. “When I see the people working in the hospital, they’re very professional, and everything is clean. They’re very gentle with the animals. I think Save-a-Pet is great; they’re a no-kill shelter. They’re trying hard, and they have a lot of good people trying to get the dogs and cats adopted.”

At 4 foot 11 inches tall, Leslie Jordan is one of the shortest actors in Hollywood—but thanks in part to his Southern charm, he has a big presence in any production in which he finds himself.

Jordan will be performing his one man play Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories as the first ticketed show at the brand-new Copa Room in Palm Springs, from Thursday, Dec. 19, through Saturday, Dec. 21.

Born in 1955 in Memphis, Tenn., Jordan’s mother was 19 years old when he was born. His father, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was killed in a plane crash when Jordan was only 11. He grew up in a deeply religious, conservative atmosphere, and he told his story of growing up as a tiny boy while being “the gayest man I know” in his autobiography, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, which also became a one-man show.

While Jordan has had a successful career in Hollywood by any measure, he said during a recent interview that acting wasn’t his original career of choice.

“I had been around horses, and I wanted to be a jockey,” said Jordan. “I never became a jockey, and I was an exercise-rider. I went back to school; I got a degree (in theater), and thought while I was at the University of Tennessee, ‘You know, I gotta go somewhere,’ so I decided either L.A. or New York. I thought, ‘ I’ll start with a tan, so I’ll go out to L.A.’”

He came West to start an acting career in 1982.

“When I look back on it, I didn’t have doubts. I was so naïve about the whole thing,” he said. “I got off a bus near Hollywood and Vine. I had $1,200 sewn into my underpants by my mother because we didn’t even have ATMs back then, and I just sort of thought, ‘Here I am!’”

Jordan found work doing commercials and made his TV-show debut on an episode of The Fall Guy in 1986. In 1990, he starred in the campy comedy Ski Patrol with then-up-and-coming comedian George Lopez, as well as Martin Mull and Ray Walston. He has earned numerous roles in TV and film productions within a wide variety of genres—including a couple of horror films. He’s probably best known for his roles as Beverley Leslie on Will and Grace, and as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Sordid Lives. More recently, he was on American Horror Story.

When asked how he chooses his roles, he said choice doesn’t come into play much.

“Honey, if they offer it to me, I do it,” he said. “I have to. There’s no plan, and there’s no, ‘Oh, am I attracted to this project?’ At my level, if it’s offered to me, I have to do it. I ain’t no Tom Cruise—but I’m a whole lot of fun. Sometimes I think I’m the biggest whore in Hollywood: 100 bucks a day and a square meal, and you’ve got me! Pay me the money, and I’ll be like an aging show pony.”

Jordan has also found success as a playwright. His first play, Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued my Life Thus Far, found success both off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.

“They call me a playwright, and I kinda think … I don’t write anything for anyone other than myself,” he said. “I (once) had a casting director who told my people, ‘Leslie is a very funny guy who comes in with the singers, and that’s going to be his career. He’s going to have a long and very storied career, but we don’t think at this point that he could carry a show.’ I thought, ‘You know what? He doesn’t think I can keep people enthralled for an hour or whatever; I’ll write my own play.’”

In a sense, Jordan said he wasn’t prepared for the success of Hysterical Blindness.

“I don’t think I was quite ready for that. The critics were pretty mean and hurt my feelings,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m not a playwright! I just write things for me.’ They approached it as if it was a theater piece. I didn’t write anything again for 10 years. But that’s what attracted me. … I wanted to showcase myself for better TV and film roles.”

As for how Unwrapped came to be the Copa Room’s debut show: Dave Morgan, a local public-relations/events producer, suggested the show to Jordan after hearing his hilarious Christmas stories from his childhood.

“I told (Dave Morgan), ‘I don’t have a Christmas show!’ He said, ‘Yes, you do. I know a lot of your stories. I’ve heard them all over the years about how your daddy bought you a bride doll one Christmas, and that funny story about when you got a pony another Christmas.’ So we put together an amazing little Christmas show that’s just me telling stories about Christmas in the South, growing up with Christmas, and what Christmas was like. We’re going to keep it short, sweet—and I’m not going to ramble.”

Jordan doesn’t have any kids, and his identical twin sisters never married or had any kids. Therefore, Christmas these days is pretty quiet for him and his family members, he said.

“We’re a little family unit, with my mom, my sisters and me,” he said. “I take them everywhere I go. I took them to Barcelona one year, to Casablanca, and other various gay cruises—but there are no kids. Christmas is very quiet. Sometimes, we don’t even take off our pajamas, and we just lay around.”

Leslie Jordan performs Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories at 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 19-21, at the Copa Room Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road. According to the Copa website, tickets are sold out. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit www.coparoomps.com.

The Purple Room at the Club Trinidad became a legendary place to have dinner and watch a performance in the 1960s, thanks in part to appearances by the Rat Pack.

After numerous changes over the years, the Purple Room is under brand-new management, and has gone through a complete makeover in an effort to return the classic venue to its glory days.

Who is in charge of the entertainment aspect of this ambitious effort? None other than Gary and Joan Gand, who handle booking for the venue, and themselves play Friday and Saturday nights at the Purple Room.

The Gand Band’s story starts long before the Gands' arrival here in Palm Springs—back in the city of Chicago.

“We met when we were 17 years old,” said Joan Gand. “Gary was a guitarist in my friend’s band, and I was the keyboardist in another blues band.”

Said Gary: “She was going out with the drummer. I was determined to steal her away from the drummer.”

Responded Joan: “We’ve been together and playing music ever since, and we won’t tell how many years that is.”

The Gands were part of the Chicago blues scene, playing in legendary clubs around Chicago and getting to know some of the well-known Windy City blues musicians.

“In Chicago, the blues for us as musicians was every day,” said Gary Gand. “You go to the liquor store, and you’d see Muddy Waters—he was a local guy. It wasn’t until the Rolling Stones came out later talking about how great Chicago blues was, the Chess (Records) sound and all that stuff, that we really thought it was special, and that wasn’t going on in the rest of the world.”

Blues music definitely runs deep in the Gand’s repertoire.

“It’s the emotion of (the blues),” Gary explained. “Blues is about the hardships that are in your life every day. (In) the great music, whether it’s blues, classical or country, there’s always a story of sorrow. You lost a woman; you lost your castle; you lost a war—there’s a whole religion built around that stuff.

Joan Gand credited a high school friend for introducing her to blues.

“I was taking jazz theory and messing around with improvisation,” she said. “A friend of mine who was two years older than me and had a blues band heard me playing in the music department at school. He said, ‘You should come play in my blues band!’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about blues,’ and he said, ‘You don’t have to; if you know jazz, jazz is based on blues.’ I went and played in his band, and ever since then, I’ve always been a fan of blues and that whole world. From a keyboardist’s perspective, it’s just great music to play, and I really enjoy it.”

The Gands later headed to Palm Springs, and played regularly at the late, lamented Blue Guitar.

“We ended up coming to Palm Springs because of the modernism thing going on,” said Joan Gand. “With the architecture preservation, all the amazing buildings in town, and the whole town of Palm Springs, we just fell in love with it from the architecture point of view. That’s a hobby of ours, and we collect modernism furniture—and, of course, that fits in with guitars from the era. All that design adds together with the music, so we got deeply involved in that.”

Their favorite local show thus far was put together by the Palm Springs Art Museum at the Bob Hope house.

“We played a fundraiser there, and when we were looking for an area to set up the band, we discovered this huge outdoor fireplace made out of concrete,” said Joan Gand. “They weren’t using it, and it was a warm night, and it actually looked like a giant stage. Imagine a fireplace that big—that a whole band could fit in there.”

Gary added: “When I went into the backyard, it was right off the patio. I said, ‘Oh, look, they got a stage right here.’ I was talking to the house manager, and I asked, ‘What’s that big pile of wood for?’ and he said, ‘That’s for the fireplace.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s that?’ and he said, ‘You’re standing in it.’ I asked, ‘Are you planning to use it tonight?’ He said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Great! Then we’ll set up in here in the fireplace.’ That was really fun.”

After playing fundraisers and home shows—one of which included Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s drummer—friends convinced them to seek a new local regular gig. However, it was not easy to do; they said there was not much variety in the local scene, and many venues wrapped up entertainment around 9 p.m.

After some residencies in various local places, they found the Purple Room last season.

“When we played here last year during the season, it was barely making it,” said Joan Gand. “It hadn’t been renovated in a long time; it had been reopened by new management who didn’t know what they needed to do to make it work. We have a lot of fans in Palm Springs, and they would come because there was nowhere to hear this music. It would be just packed in here, and when they tried to do other nights of music, no one would come, because (the other acts) didn’t have a following.”

Gary Gand shared a pet peeve that he and Joan share.

“It was a lot of track acts—people singing around with their computer,” said Gary Gand. “Our policy here is no tracks: It’s live musicians playing live music in front of a live audience. Everything that comes off the stage is someone playing a musical instrument. DJs are great for the late-night dance crowd, but that’s not a substitute for a live band playing music. We’re cool with (DJs), but what we’re not cool with is a guy crooning along to his laptop.”

When Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, the owners of TRIO, took over management of the Purple Room over the summer—remodeling it and returning food service to the venue—they brought in the Gands to put together a great music program. They have put together residencies that include local band Machin’, jazz musician Michael Holmes, and Barry Minniefield, a singing chef who performs soul music. The Gands have a special musical lineup planned for Modernism Week in February, too.

As a result of the music, the food and the renovated venue, business has been pretty good since the October reopening.

“It’s been very well-received by the public,” said Marchese. “All the old groups are coming out again. For the past six weeks or so, it’s been awesome. We’re 40 percent above what we thought we were going to do.”

Joan Gand said they want to make sure the Purple Room stays true to its roots.

“The main point of everything is to preserve the traditions of live music and roots music,” she said. “If people don’t hear it performed live, it will be forgotten.”

The Purple Room, at the Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is open from 3 p.m. to midnight, Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Live music is featured every night. For more information, including a complete schedule, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The “Hard Rock” name has become synonymous with glitz, glamour and—of course—music. In recent decades, the Hard Rock has stepped up its game with new hotel locations and live music productions around the world.

The new Hard Rock in Palm Springs is now offering a regular series called The Edge, a revue-style music show, with a different theme each month, featuring up and coming performers. Throughout December, The Edge, no surprise, is offering a Christmas production known as Rockin’ the Holidays. The show is built around a repertoire of Christmas songs you’d expect to hear, such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night,” as well as more-recent Christmas hits by pop artists.

All 12 cast members are excellent, as is the backing band. However, the show has some serious faults.

The biggest fault: The show is held in a ballroom, not a theater or concert hall. This means the seats are all at the same level, not tiered. This also means the room was not designed with sound quality in mind. (The sound wasn’t horrible, but it could have been much better.) The uninspiring ballroom setting should make everyone hope that the rumors about a new live venue being constructed at the Hard Rock at some point are true.

Another major problem is the lack of production values. There are some good lighting effects, but aside from a few Christmas decorations (such as a wreath hanging from the top of the stage), there’s nothing that makes the show stand out in terms of visuals—which is disappointing, given the $45 to $60 price tag.

The talent of the cast, though, can’t be denied. Highlights included “Grown-Up Christmas List,” an Amy Grant hit, performed by Fredericka Meek; Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?” performed by Amy Pemberton; and another Amy Grant song, “Breath of Heaven,” performed by Kelli Provart. These were all beautiful renditions.

The show, while remaining in the Christmas spirit, included some welcome edgy elements. During “Santa Baby,” all of the female cast members came out in PG-13 attire and included a bit of tease in their dance steps and hip movements. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard whistling and screams of “YEAH!” from various male members of the audience.

After “Santa Baby,” it was the guys’ turn to be sexy: Two male members of the cast (Tim Valencia and another cast member who was not identified on the set list) came out wearing very tight Santa-like outfits. They moved to two audience-level platforms and did some rather risqué dancing and singing that got ladies screaming as if they were at a Chippendale’s show. The men then took a female member of the audience onstage—and toward the end of the song, Valencia offered his female volunteer a lap dance, of sorts.

During “Joy to the World,” producers broke out the only special effect used in the show—a machine that blew soap suds resembling snow onto small sections of the audience seated closest to the walls. The soap-suds snow returned during the closing number, a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.”

Fans of Christmas music who aren’t looking for much in the way of stagecraft will enjoy Rockin’ the Holidays. However, I expected more, given the fact that this show is being performed at a venue with the name Hard Rock. Let’s hope this is just the beginning for the Hard Rock—and that more, including a better music and performance venue, is to come.

The Edge’s Rockin’ the Holidays takes place at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive. Tickets to the 18-and-older show are $45, or $60 for VIP. For tickets or more information, call 760-832-4860, or visit www.theedgepalmsprings.com.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 12:25

Snapshot: The Festival of Lights Parade

The annual Festival of Lights parade drew quite a large crowd to downtown Palm Springs On Saturday, Dec. 7.

The cold (for Palm Springs, at least) weather didn’t stop tens of thousands of people from taking in the parade full of illuminated participants, vehicles, bands and floats.

The parade’s grand marshall was Three’s Company actress Suzanne Somers. She wore a white fur coat and waved to the audience while seated on a vintage red convertible.

Some of the more spectacular entries: the Tonga Hut’s Hawaiian themed float complete with a volcano; a lit up Coca-Cola truck; and, of course, Santa Claus, who came through on a lit up sleigh.

Scroll down to see our gallery of CVI Crapcam pics from the event. Enjoy!

The month of December is full of holiday magic—and many of the local venues are bringing in great holiday-themed shows, along with other worthy acts.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights starts at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a huge parade on Palm Canyon Drive featuring floats, marching bands and other special participants. Past guests have included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Snoopy and the Gang, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Attendance is free. 760-323-8276; www.psfestivaloflights.com.

The newly formed Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, is holding an inaugural concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. There will be a second performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $20. The chorus is also asking those who attend to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s NestEggg Food Bank. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs; 760-992-5109; www.modernmen.org.

The Classic Club in Palm Desert will host a special fundraiser thrown by Opera Arts and the Steinway Society for their children’s music programs in the Coachella Valley. For the Children starts at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, with a wine-and-cheese reception; it’s followed by a sit-down dinner at 7:15 p.m., and a musical presentation at 8:15 p.m. with Shana Blake Hill and Gregorio Gonzalez. Tickets are $125. 75200 Classic Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-323-8353; www.operaartspalmsprings.org.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing their holiday concert “With Bells On” at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Palm Springs High School Auditorium. They say they’re going to be performing a mix of sentimental, spiritual, humorous and classical songs. Tickets are $25 to $50. 2401 E. Baristo Road; www.psgmc.com.

The city of Palm Springs is hosting yet more special events at Forever Marilyn. The free Forever Marilyn Holiday Concert Series will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The performers include Celine Dion tribute performer Brigitte Valdez, Just Like That and local band New Sensations. 101 N. Palm Canyon Drive; www.visitpalmsprings.com.

The McCallum Theatre certainly is the place to be during the month of December. The McCallum will host The Ten Tenors for five shows, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The Australian musical ensemble is well known for choral covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as other pop and rock classics. Here, they will be performing an all-new show of holiday classics. Tickets are $25 to $95. Willie Nelson will be making a stop at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Red Headed Stranger is still going strong at 80 years of age; he’s still doing what he can to help out farmers through his Farm Aid concerts; and, yes, he’s still advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Tickets are $60 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Of course, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fine holiday shows on tap in December. Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be performing a Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. He’ll be bringing special guests Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui. Tickets are $40 to $60. If you’re suffering from a Christmas hangover, Chris Isaak can help at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. While Isaak is a well-known actor with roles in Little Buddha, The Silence of the Lambs and The Informers, he’s also a brilliant recording artist with a music career that goes back almost 30 years. Tickets are $40 to $75. At 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Agua Caliente will be hosting Danny Bonaduce’s ex-wife, Gretchen Bonaduce, and her band, The Fatal ’80s. I don’t know what to make of a woman who divorces Danny Bonaduce and continues to keep that last name, but more power to her! Tickets are $25. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be hosting Mannheim Steamroller (right) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Not to be confused with the near-heavy-metal, prog-rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Streamroller is also known for holiday shows full of MIDI-sounding keyboards and an electronic-symphony sound. Tickets are $39 to $69. America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho will be appearing at Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Evancho, now 13, won the hearts of America during the fifth season of the show and finished as the runner-up—sparking outrage among her fans who felt she should have won the competition over Michael Grimm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino is hosting the Winter Gathering Pow Wow from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The pow wow will include Native American tribes from across the country sharing clothing, dances, songs, arts, crafts and food. There will also be a drum and dance contest. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6; 1 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Admission is free. The Spinners, a legendary Motown R&B group, will be making a stop at Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28. Most of the original members of the Spinners are not active, but original member Henry Fambrough remains. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Stayin’ Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, will ring in 2014. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule for December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Charo will be performing. The Spanish-American actress known for both her campy comedy and her flamenco-guitar music is still going strong—and she’s a huge hit in the LGBT community. Tickets are $20 to $29. Hiroshima plays at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. The Japanese-American act was a hit in the ’70s in the electric-jazz scene, and even performed as the opening act for Miles Davis. While the band has gone through several lineup changes, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto and Danny Yamamoto are still around. Tickets are $15 to $20. Morongo’s Vibe Nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve Party at 10:30 p.m. The Dazz Band will be performing their high-energy R&B to bring in 2014. Tickets are $25, or $40 on the day of the show. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s will be hosting Dengue Fever (the band, not the virus) at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; the show is one of the highlights of an absolutely packed month for the Pioneertown venue. The Los Angeles band is known for combining Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock—a unique and eccentric combination. If that wasn’t enough, Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit will be the opening act, performing under the moniker JVR. Tickets are $10. Pappy’s will be throwing a New Year’s Eve concert featuring the blues-rock sound of the Paul Chesne Band. Doors open at 6, and tickets are $5. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has established itself as a hot place to be, especially after November’s show with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Rick Thorne and his band Thorne will play at 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Thorne is one of the most-recognizable BMX riders around today—but he also puts on an excellent show as a punk-band frontman. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, The Hood will host Strung Out. The Simi Valley band has been performing its brand of punk since 1992 and has been on Fat Wreck Chords since its debut, Another Day in Paradise, in 1994. There’s talk of a new record coming out in 2014. Given the intimate size of The Hood, Strung Out should be another wild show. The cost is $10 at the door for those 21 and older; or $15 for those 18 to 20. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs is picking up steam with a regular schedule of music nights. On Thursdays at 9 p.m., Symara Stone hosts Spotlight, a local talent showcase. A variety of performers bring their own instruments, and it’s guaranteed to be a good time. On Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., Derek Gregg and Sean Poe, now known as the Hive Minds, are putting on a show. Considering the quality of Derek’s originals, it’s not a surprise he’s continuing to make a name for himself in the local music scene. Clinic Bar has a lot more to offer with regular DJ sets by talented people including Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington (aka All Night Shoes) and various other music nights. Admission is free. Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs is back, and the Rat Pack-inspired lounge is now hosting a regular schedule of shows. The Judy Show, a comedy and song show, will take place on Sunday nights at 9:30. Tickets are $20. The Gand Band will perform on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. The cost is $10. The Michael Holmes Trio will perform on “No Cover Wednesday” nights from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Machin’ will be bringing the Spanglish Jive every Thursday at 7 p.m.; there is no cover. Watch the website for yet more shows. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Below: Strung Out: The Hood, Dec. 21.

On what promises to be a night of acoustic mayhem, Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti and former Custom Made Scare frontman Charlie Overbey will play at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, Dec. 5

The Supersuckers formed in 1988 and have appeared on many indie-band “best of” lists. The band’s combination of rock and country has led many to list them in the “cowpunk” subgenre. The Supersuckers have toured with bands such as Pearl Jam, Motorhead, Reverend Horton Heat and many others.

Eddie Spaghetti, the frontman of the Supersuckers, is also a solo artist. He’s touring behind his latest album, The Value of Nothing. For Spaghetti, this is his first solo album to offer originals instead of covers.

“(The album) was kind of more my views on things, I guess,” Spaghetti said. “… I just worked hard at making up some good songs, and didn’t think about what should be a solo song or a Supersuckers song. I think there are a couple of songs that could have been Supersuckers songs pretty easily, but that’s not always the case.”

Spaghetti said he has one goal. whether he is performing with the Supersuckers or at a solo show.

“I just want people to hear the songs and come out to the show. The music has kind of become the advertisement for the live show,” he said. “It’s the one thing left that you can’t download, and you can’t experience a live show any other way besides going out to see it. It’s the one thing we, as artists, have left that’s still enjoyable.”

The Supersuckers were involved in the campaign to free the West Memphis Three, three teenagers who were apparently wrongfully convicted of the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Ark. The case received national attention after the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills aired in 1996 on HBO. The band auctioned off items to support the legal defense, and Spaghetti produced a compilation album to raise awareness.

They were released on Aug. 19, 2011, after reaching a deal with prosecutors, following 18 years in prison.

“I was elated. I was in Germany when I heard, and I just couldn’t believe it,” Spaghetti said. “It was such a phenomenal experience; to think you had anything to do with it at all is super-gratifying. To see them getting out of prison was great.”

When asked what attendees can expect from his set, he replied that his show will be entirely acoustic.

“You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll become a part of it,” he said. “I think what differentiates an Eddie show (from) a Supersuckers show is how the audience gets to participate in an Eddie Spaghetti show. They’ll shout out a song they think I might know; if I even kind of know it, I’ll give it a shot. It’s a good chance for me to flex my entertainer muscle and not try to be some boring singer-songwriter guy up there.”

For Charlie Overbey—who has opened shows for both the Supersuckers and Eddie Spaghetti before—the art of songwriting runs deep. You can hear Springsteen, Cash, Haggard and other influences at play in his from-the-heart songs.

He released an album in 2011 with his former band the Valentine Killers, and he just finished recording another album.

“I come from the school of ‘a good song is a good song,’” he said. “If it makes you feel something, it’s good. As long as it’s coming from the soul, and it’s real, people are going to feel that. If it makes you feel sad and remember something you don’t want to necessarily remember … it’s good to remember that kind of stuff—to remember the good times.”

In recent years, Overbey has gone through the breakup of the Valentine Killers, a divorce, the death of his father and the death of several friends via suicide. It’s no surprise, then, that he wrote some dark stuff—but he said he didn’t want that to taint his new album.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to make this dark, depressing record right now,’” he said. “I rehashed the whole thing and busted out a bunch of tunes and wrote some new stuff that’s upbeat, and it’s positive.”

In an interesting twist, Overbey recently performed a live Neil Diamond tribute show after friends—who know about his love of early Neil Diamond songs—suggested he do so. He’s also hosted a jam session at the Slidebar in Fullerton that featured regular guests such as Steve Soto of Adolescents, Zander Schloss of Sean and Zander, and Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters.

“Usually, I pretty much stuck to playing my own material. I did know some cover tunes, but I’m not the greatest guitar-player in the world. (I’m) kind of like Bob Dylan: not the greatest songwriter in the world, but wrote some great songs,” he said. If someone wanted to play something simple, I could pretty much do that. Most of the guys who came in and played it were great musicians and would follow what I would do and play anything.”

Overbey said he enjoys performing with Spaghetti.

“Eddie is a standup, solid dude. We have a good time together and have a lot of laughs,” Overbey said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a writer and an artist. He’s just an all-around strong talent. I always feel blessed to share a stage with Eddie.”

Eddie Spaghetti performs with Charlie Overbey, as well as The Hellions, at 10 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or find the event’s page on Facebook. Below: Charlie Overbey.

In 1976, the Weirdos became one of the first Los Angeles punk outfits to form—and begin leaving a mark on the city.

After being on-again, off-again as a band ever since, the Weirdos are on again for the first time since 2005—and they’ll be at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The Denney brothers, John and Dix, are sons of the late Nora “Dodo” Denney, the actress who played Mrs. Teevee in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They formed the Weirdos at the same time as the Sex Pistols and the Clash were taking the United Kingdom by storm with punk rock. Punk was starting to take off in the U.S., too, but the Weirdos weren’t calling themselves a “punk band,” per se. They were simply doing what was referred to back then as “art rock.”

“I think there were so few punk bands at the time, and it was pretty wide open. It was up for grabs, in other words,” said John Denney during a recent telephone interview. “… Initially, there was no scene in L.A. to speak of besides us, the Zeros, and the Nerves, who were a pop group, and shortly after came the Germs.”

Of course, the punk scene in Los Angeles eventually rose to prominence. Bands like Black Flag, Bad Religion, Fear and X became popular; so did groups with sounds coming toward punk from different directions, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone.

“There were a lot of drugs back then,” John Denney said. “… I was torn about the ‘80s, because a lot of the music was so canned and not my cup of tea—but then again, there were other great things happening as well.”

During the ’80s, the Los Angeles Police Department began to view punk rock as a threat to youth, and police started cracking down on shows. Violence among audience members was also common—and even upset various punk musicians.

“It was unnerving at times. You just didn’t know where the hell it was going,” John Denney said. “It got so wild and sort of went off at every show. You just didn’t know what was going to happen next with the police cracking down. It was really ugly. I wasn’t a participant necessarily other than being in a band, but I appreciated the youthful exuberance of it all. I don’t like people getting beat up, no matter the perpetrator, but nonetheless, it was still really exciting and exhilarating, and also really positive.”

John Denney explained the band’s various hiatuses through the years by saying the group was victimized by “circumstance, sometimes brought on by our own shortcomings.

“For example, we were on a great British tour in 2005 with The Damned, and our mom got very ill. (Dix) and I had to bail on that tour and came home for my mom, and she passed away. Back then, one thing led to another, and I moved to New Orleans. That was five or six years there that we weren’t active. We’re firmly entrenched in the here and now: I like to put it that way. … I think we’re better now, but some folks might not agree. We’re going to give it another shot; that’s all we can do.”

The new version of the band includes members both old and new. Joining the Denney brothers are former Circle Jerks bassist and Sean and Zander member Zander Schloss on bass, as well as Devo and Perfect Circle touring drummer Jeff Friedl.

Will the reformed band record new material? John Denney explained there have been ideas, but nothing is set in stone.

“(Our) records really were by and large pretty crappy,” he said. “We didn’t know what we were doing at that time so many years ago. I think the quality in every sense would be better and more proficient. I’m not sure if we can put the genie back in the bottle, because we are thinking and talking about new material, but I’m not sure we want to go back to a four-track and devolve. Hopefully, we will recapture the energy and the spirit behind it.”

John Denney continues to live in New Orleans.

“I’ve been here in New Orleans with my family about seven years,” he said. “I love New Orleans, but, yes, there are many things I miss about California. It’s an amazing place. New Orleans is my home, but I’m an Angelino—and always will be.”

The Weirdos will perform with Shawn Mafia and the 10 Cent Thrills at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road in Pioneertown. Tickets are $13 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.