Viva La Vida

By Ron deHarte


Welcome to Palm Springs Pride 2017! We kick off this season of Pride under the worldwide theme of Viva la Vida.  Live life… and celebrate that you live life as you please. Shout VIVA LA VIDA… yours, mine, ours… And celebrate that we feel alive, alive because we are different, because we are unique, free… happy. Palm Springs is a city where we live life; a life full of the things and people that we love.

It is in the spirit of solidarity that we celebrate what it means to be a member of this beautiful community, to remember those we have lost, affirm our commitment in the fight for equality, and to look towards the future and what it holds for LGBTQ people worldwide.

We invite you to come together in celebration and use the platform that Pride provides to peacefully resist hate, discrimination, intolerance, racism and bigotry. Join us and raise awareness of key issues important to you including immigration reform, access to education in hostile-free environments for LGBT youth, affordable insurance, and access to health care, rights for transgender and gender nonconforming people, rights for incarcerated LGBT individuals and religious discrimination against LGBT individuals.

We stand in solidarity with Pride events around the world; we give a voice to the power of self-expression, inclusiveness, and love.

The entertainment lineup for Pride 2017 includes a diverse group of artists including, dancers, singers, musicians, activists, and DJs. Iconic ’80s band Missing Persons will headline Parade Sunday, on the US Bank Stage. Founding member Dale Bozzio will perform the Greatest Hits including: Destination Unknown, Words, Here & Now, Give, Walking In L.A., I Like Boys, Windows and more!

The Free two-day Pride festival features: Seattle-based powerhouse performer Mama Tits who will entertain with comedy, and live singing that will feel a little like Mae West and Divine. British music duo Unsung Lilly brings their epic pop sound to Arenas Rd, and LA’s Iconique, who melds disco rhythms and silky synth highlights, will have the crowds dancing in the streets with their pop music. Winter residents Joan and Gary Gand bring their Chicago sound to the desert each year and the high energy The Gand Band will be featured at the Arenas Rd. Block Party on November 4.

Also appearing will be all-girl Git’erDone band featuring classic rock with a little country rock touch, and San Francisco’s Ethel Merman is a drag queen you don’t want to miss. With her huge hair and wonderfully exaggerated make up, singing live, she’ll belt out classic rock gems, in a performance that is uniquely Ethel Merman’s.


A Palm Springs favorite, GayC/DC the world’s only all-gay tribute to AC/DC returns and Echo V, an out and proud LGBTQI Boy Band, will join the male-fronted Bananarama tribute act, Boynanarama, to perform in Palm Springs for the first time.


The big, bold, and beautiful Sheena Rose, a glamorous deluxe diva from San Francisco, brings her act to the desert. Another diva known for her fabulous drag production numbers, Miss Rusty Waters presents the Risqué Drag Revue.


An assortment of electronic, pop, hip hop, and rock ‘n’ roll artists will perform, including soulful pop singer, from London, Ben Davis, electronic dance duo based in Joshua Tree Easier, and pop singer and dancer Z LaLa, from LA. Jen DM, part of the Hi Fashion Duo, DJ Galazy, and DJ Aaron C, will present DJ sets

Festival Emcees include the desert’s hostess, social ambassador and Walk of Stars recipient Bella da Ball, on-air personality Alexander Rodriguez, from On the Rocks Radio Show, and making her debut at Palm Springs Pride is performer and host Diva.


With 80+ performances, the diverse lineup of artists will offer something for everyone including special appearances by the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, and Modern Men. All performances take place outdoors on the US Bank stage and the Pride Stage sponsored by Desert AIDS Project. Entertainment will also be featured at the Hyatt Palm Springs stage all weekend. ASL will be provided for the deaf community at the US Bank and Pride stages.


Breakdown by Stages:

Viva la Vida Street Party on Friday, November 3, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. is the official Weekend Kick Off! The outdoor street party is a free Pride event. Join us at the US Bank Stage, on Arenas Rd. between Indian Canyon Dr. and S Calle Encilia, to celebrate life and shout VIVA LA VIDA… yours, mine, ours! Celebrate that we feel alive, alive because we are different, because we are unique, free… happy. Palm Springs is a city where we live life; a life full of the things and people that we love. Our Guest Host, Diva performs and Emcees for the night. San Francisco’s Sheena Rose brings her act to the desert and the night continues with Miss Rusty Waters and the ladies of Risqué. Then the flamboyant Los Angeles based synth disco trio, Iconique takes the stage with their upbeat, and theatrical 1980s influenced performance. Dancing in the street kicks into full gear with Jen DM (Hi Fashion DJ set) and her soulful, ball, vogue house beat.


The Arenas Rd. Block Party, hosted by Alexander Rodriguez of On The Rocks Radio, on Saturday, Nov 5, 6:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. will feature a fun night of Pop, Drag, and Rock ’n’ Roll, performances. The party starts with the Dyke March Rally at 6:00 p.m. and then Drag King Jesse Jones takes the stage and followed by vocalist Keisha D. Continuing with pop artist Z LALA, then The Gand Band performs their Rock ’n’ Soul jukebox full of 60s Psychedelic, Spy, Sci-Fi, and Surf music, 70s Funk, and Chicago Blues. Making a special appearance in Palm Springs is the fun-loving party queen Mama Tits, the star of Seattle’s #1 and longest running weekly drag brunch. Closing the Block Party with their epic pop sound is cutting-edge British music duo Unsung Lilly.


The Pride Stage sponsored by the Desert AIDS Project is located at Arenas and Belardo and will feature up to 150 entertainers over the two-day Pride weekend, November 4-5. The performances will include the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus (up to 100 voices in this group alone!), Steven Michael’s Dance Machine, drag king Jesse Jones, drag queens Anita Rose, Candace Camera, Roxy Taylor, Sheena Wolfe, Cher-Javier, Sassy Ross, Marina Mac, reigning D.A.P. Queen of the Desert, Vanity Halston, and many more; female vocalists, Shirley Claire, Carol Kamenis, Keisha D, Cat Lyn Day, Francesca Amari; duet Siobhan and Brian Scott; male vocalists Jerome Elliott, Doug Graham, James Tennessen, Allan Jensen, Charles Herrera, Dan Westfall, Terry Larson, Steven Michael, Kevin Miller, Willie Rene Guerrero, Dave Hirsch, Larry Bennett, Jason Hull, Tony Romano and more. Bella da Ball is the emcee and hostess for this stage.


Some of the special highlights of the various days and performances include:

-Saturday’s pride stage will open with national anthem by Jerome Elliott. He’s a four-time winner of the Desert Theatre League in acting, directing and cabaret performance and has performed in major cabaret venues around the country. Earlier this year he made his debut at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room and will return there next April with a new show.

Douglas Graham has performed in the National Touring and Broadway companies of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’, A CHORUS LINE, CATS (as the Rum Tum Tugger), Andrew Lloyd Weber’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and CHICAGO with Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. He has shared the stage with the world famous Rockettes and appeared with Sandy Duncan in Radio City’s “5-6-7-8 Dance”. Locally, he has been in the world premiere of “Butterfly Madam” and won a “Desert Star Award” for best choreography in a musical revue for Cabaret Theatre West. He made his solo cabaret debut recently with his show “Perfectly Imperfect” and most recently in “Color Me Douglas” and recently choreographed the “Tribute to the Follies” at the McCallum Theatre. Doug will sing the national anthem on Sunday.


Additional features of the Pride Festival include a Children’s Headquarters (CHQ) space for games and crafts, the Youth Zone operated by Safe Schools Desert Cities and sponsored by Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, and HIV/AIDS testing by Get Tested Coachella Valley. Over 150 exhibitors, non-profit organizations, food, and beverage vendors will be on hand along with the Arenas Rd. Beverage Lounge by Trio, featuring the SKYY Vodka Bar, a DeKuyper premium liqueur bar and Sauza Margarita bars.


The Festival is a free community event held on Palm Canyon Dr. between Amado and Baristo Rd. and on Arenas Rd. Donations will be accepted at entry points to keep Pride free. Join us and on Arenas Rd starting at 6:00pm on November 3 and continue celebrating through the weekend with nearly two-dozen official events. Don’t miss the highlight with the Pride Parade on Sunday, November 5 at 10:00am and then Missing Persons on Arenas Rd at 2:30pm.

Happy Pride!