Tag Archives: Gay Pop Culture

STEVEN SPILLS #94

STEVEN SPILLS © 94

THE HIGH FIVE

I can’t live without my iPhone. There, I said it. It does a lot for me and makes me feel connected to the world. Yes, the world. If I’ve left it at home I’m killed down. I don’t necessarily pout about it but if someone offers to go get it for me I don’t stop them. I mean, what would happen if my agent finally tried to contact from L.A. saying the network picked up my reality show?! It may sound materialistic but I don’t judge you on the thing that makes you happy, now do I?! What is that thing, again?!

There are certain things that I really must have or can’t seem to live quietly without. My iPhone being one of them. If I rounded out my “Five Must Haves” for summer and well, life in general the following would be included: lemon slices which are great for a man’s rank stank (just saying try it because it works); the new season of So You Think You Can Dance on FOX; spanking new music from the UK girl-group The Saturdays called “Notorious” which makes me very excited when I lip-sync, I mean listen to it; thirst-quenching ice-cold vitamin D milk. It does my body so damn good!

I asked a group of inner circle confidants to tell me what their “must haves” were. Even my wonderful husband got involved. Some seemed to celebrate Thanksgiving in June and offer what they’re appreciative for which I found sweet and genuine. Others found it funny and in turn were very funny. You’ll know some of the friends that follow and afterwards a bit more than before. Please enjoy.

Shawn Smith | Internet Entrepreneur: new Speedo because spanking new bulges are HOT and trashed-out, saggy-ass spandex, chlorine-chewed Speedo’s are NOT; Cuervo Margaritas that are premixed creating a tangy slush for any Lush. Just add ice and slur; heat-beating white cotton long-sleeve button-down dress shirts; that summer fling to show you that you still have it, baby; a working A/C because by August a cheap, ratty plastic fan is as tired as you are of the relentless heat.

Troy Gregurich | Entrepreneur; sun screen, boyfriend, hot swimwear and a flat stomach, topped off with a catered dinner by Paula Dean.

LD Thompson | Filmmaker, co-owner of Trick Dog Films, author of THE MESSAGE: A Guide to Being Human: my Starbuck’s Barista Espresso Maker for when I want an iced coffee made with almond milk; I can’t do without my Smart Car and who could with gas over $4 a gallon?; Yoga class with Dennis at World Gym; at least one getaway stretched as long as I can manage!

Gregg Seller | Pension Investment Services: my husband, first and foremost; trip to P‘Town, of course; a Med cruise; new swimsuit in a smaller size than last year; doing volunteer work for DAP. No summer is complete without it!

Scott Cullens | CEO Palm Pacific Construction: Rainbows, Puppies, Smiles, Ice Cream and Hugs. Was this supposed to be what I like or don’t like?! Funny how my likes and dislikes list are exactly the same.

Dimitri James | Founder and CEO Skinn Cosmetics: Havaianas Flip-Flops in assorted colors; deliciously quenching Mohitos at Tropicale; Aveda SPF 15 lip balm does the job with out being too shiny; my white ceramic watch from Wil Stiles. I love the look on a tan wrist for summer; the essential layering of Speedos and board shorts so you’re always ready to jump in the pool at any party.

Mark Jones | General Manager Hamburger Mary’s: sunscreen to protect that skin from the powerful desert sun but still have a nice glow; bathing suit that will look good on you. Appropriate shape, color and fit are important; a thick stainless steel cock-ring that fits right keeping you aroused enough to fill out that Speedo; bright white smile by help of the dentist or over-the-counter products like Plus White; the newest iPhone in white. I have a taste for everything Apple.

Ron Oliver | Film Director: Jesus, as in Jesus my hot Pool Boy who keeps the temperature in my pool just right as I do my laps before the morning Bloody Mary; Camelot Movie Theater, air conditioned AND allows you to drink cocktails inside; Hollywood only a two hour drive away and you can enjoy lunch at Musso and Frank with one of Manny’s outstanding martinis; Crawford T. Manchester, our Miniature Manchester Terrier whose daily routine of a morning walk, an afternoon walk and a cocktail hour walk gives us a valid reason to avoid working on the next draft of our screenplay and be civil with our neighbors; Melvyn’s Sunday Afternoon Jam Session, a tradition for 25 years!

Jacques Liberman | Manager of Biofit Medical: my partner Steven and our two four legged kids Barney and Britney; the occasional three-day-trip out of town to Vegas or L.A.; cooking and eating good food; a quiet restful Sunday by the pool with # 1 and a glass of cold Pastis in my hand after Skyping with family in France on my MacBook. My “must have” is the money as to enjoy the above more pleasurably. So off to work I go at a great job I enjoy. Another “must have.”

My applause to everyone who contributed! Thanks for the informative entertainment! Tune in next time as I open up the journal from my upcoming adventure back home to Nashville. How tight will the Bible Belt be this trip?! Until then…

2011 © PULP

STEVIE NICKS KNOCKS ME OUT

STEVEN SPILLS © 93

SEASON FINALE

As June approaches we are faced with the inevitable rising temperatures while local and tourists alike are flocking out of town for escape. Of course there are some of us that must stay and trudge onward so the town will continue until season starts up again and people return. Locals adapt by making decisions for day getaways and book weekend vacations to keep minds occupied with scheduled escapes. Those of us who stay in Palm Springs for the summer know how to deal with the heat and pace ourselves for sanity. Although, speak to me in August when I’m slowly simmering underneath a black vinyl roof in my Jeep Wrangler while sitting at a traffic light.

Bewitching songbird and rock goddess Stevie Nicks recently performed to a sold-out house at Fantasy Springs and we were there to rock on. Madame Nicks had unfortunately been cancelling shows and appearances due to illness with pneumonia so when it was confirmed that she would be on I was happily able to take Jacques to his first live Nicks fix. The Friday night drive to Indio wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, it’s not a commute I’d want to do everyday. After grabbing some quick food and a cocktail we found our seats behind two people that had obviously taken some super acid they had saved from the 60s. The choreography this one hot mess was doing in the aisle had me screaming and was slightly distracting. We pushed through. Concert crowds are a crap shoot at best.

The show started and Stevie Nicks wonderfully performed eleven hits from her Fleetwood Mac and solo albums, and the delicious gem “Secret Love” from her In Your Dreams album that just dropped and is climbing up the charts. If you haven’t bought it and are a fan you must get it! At 63-years-young, our Stevie has no signs of slowing down. The Lady Nicks gave us one good series of spins during the opening of “Stand Back” which caused the rowdy crowd to roar and she naturally commanded the stage the entire time. Stevie recently mentored the cast of Glee when they performed juggernaut time-definers from Rumours and has made numerous appearances recently from Oprah to Dancing with the Stars. On her newest musical endeavor, surrender to the driving guitars of “Wide Sargasso Sea,” haunting “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” and romantic memory of “Italian Summer.”

The next day we attended the Picture Me Happy benefit and pool party where nearly 200 men and women converged to raise money for terminally ill children throughout California. Sunshine blessed shirtless hunks with warmth while founder Tim Courtney was on hand to charm partygoers and local catering giants Grillmarks provided the smart food offerings. Mark Carter and John Lustenring have come together to create a culinary service that presents both whimsical cookout food and more elegant fare in healthy alternative ways. Let Mark do the cooking during your next party and head over to http://grillmarkscatering.com for menus and information. Through the course of charity donations and the pool party, Picture Me Happy at http://picturemehappy.org raised over $5K for the children the organization benefits! Thanks to everyone who attended and donated, the selfless volunteers, DJ Luc Benech, host Jim G. and hostess Bella da Ball, and Mother Nature.

In closing, I wanted to share a priceless story from last evening. On Saturdays, Escena Grill has prime rib for dinner and that’s what we usually order. An insider tip from me to you would be that if you want lunch there, go on easier-to-get-in Saturday rather than everyone-is-there Sunday. Although if you do go on Sunday, go early. But back to last night…

Our reservation was outside to watch the gorgeous sunset. Next to us was a table of sixteen male golfers who appeared straight but when at least 10% of the population is gay, someone is doing someone. I’m just saying, and wondering. They were harmless but rowdy. However, their server was also ours and had waited on us before. After saying hello, we told our busy one to deal with them since we weren’t in a hurry but Pinot Noir would satisfy us for a bit. We continued to enjoy the breeze and atmosphere until they headed back over to us. I’ve omitted any information that would get someone in trouble since the following was all in fun and others may take it out of context.

Here’s how the dialogue flowed between us, verbatim. Server: “Are you ready to order?” Me: “Sure. The lettuce wedge to start and prime rib, medium.” Server: “Did you want the king cut, or the queen?” Me: “Oh, the queen cut, sweetie. Thanks.” Server: (smiling) “Perfect… Since you are a queen.” Me: (after busting out laughing) “How true, you. Touché!” What a ballsy move?! We tipped double!

2011 © PULP

PALM SPRINGS SUMMER 101

PALM SPRINGS SUMMER 101

Ah, summer. It’s here again, or will be on June 21 for summer solstice. As the sun heats us all up and makes some of us wonder why we live in the desert with the extreme heat, how does one deal?! The thought of summer conjures up memories for me of attending summer school (twice) during my teenage years. The first time I missed cheerleading camp and the next I wasted my time not skipping school and getting my GED, instead. I’ve never applied to a job that has required seeing my high school diploma. But there I was, killed down going to summer school for failing Algebra 1 twice because the football coach who taught the subject was too sexy for me to concentrate. Yes, that’s my reasoning. Seriously.

But here today, how and where does one escape from the inevitable heat that’s ahead?! Sure, it’s not that bad right now but get ready people! During my first summer here it was near 120-degrees and I thought I was going to melt. We’ll see what Momma Nature has in store but guaranteed it will be hot, scorching at times and ridiculous with a thickness in the air. It’s time to start dodging for trees with shade to park your car under and please don’t leave your pet in the car. I do have Animal Control on speed dial in my iPhone and I love using it. Try me. Make sure that your cars also have coolants in your transmission and a shade reflector that is trimmed to fit your front windshield. People become ruthless when deciding where the shade of a tree will be and when. Be smart, too! Think it through.

While on the subject of pets, dogs in particularly. We have two fabulously privileged Jack Russells and they love the water. Splashing in the pool, swimming after a floating ball and any aquatic chaotic activity entertains them and knocks them down so they rest peacefully for the rest of the day. Keep your dogs’ fur and nails trimmed for healthy growth and easy towel drying afterwards. If they swim a lot think of getting a moisturizer for their fur for afterwards. We use Aveda Brilliant (yes, that’s what I said), an emollient finishing gloss on their fur and it prevents our boy’s dry skin that normally wears him out. The water that may accumulate in their ears can be removed gently by a cotton-covered cue tip and even ear-cleaning solutions wouldn’t hurt if administered immediately after each entry into water. And again, I can’t stress enough. A cracked car window does not a comfortable setting make for puppy. Try sitting in the car without the air condition running and see how long you last!

The summer is hell on automobiles. Focus on taking care of your car. No coolant equals no air condition and a bad tranny, err, I mean transmission. A solid running car can get you away for weekend escapes. But where?! Even day trips can give one a sense of peace and retreat from that un-Christian heated swelter outside. The beaches are a thought like Black Beach in San Diego for you exhibitionists. Laguna Beach has the offering of Newport Beach and some serious shopping. Want some real culture?! Hit it to L.A. and take a gawking gander at the Malibu surfer boys and the always-entertaining boardwalk. (On a side note, Krispy Kreme is at Ontario Mills and yes you can bring me some back.) Venturing to Idyllwild or Big Bear and even a trip up to the Palm Springs Tram will always pull the temperature down a good group of degrees. Drive safe, gas up and get away if only for the day or overnight.

To have been in Palm Springs or the desert for that matter during one of our summers is to know you do everything in the morning. It’s the coolest time of the day since even at night it is often 99-degrees or more during our peak months of July, August and September. Grab the sun block and use it. However, if you don’t want to use it then you better make an appointment at Dr. Make Pretty’s offices at Contour Dermatology who just celebrated their 10-year anniversary. Congrats Tim and Lee! And by all means, if you foresee yourself wearing flip-flops and I encourage you to, please have a pedicure happening. Re-hydrate yourselves! Water is best. Your skin will look amazing.

Everyone this side of the yellow brick road knows that June is big time full-blown Gay Pride in most cities commemorating the Stonewall riots. Los Angeles carries pink triangles and sings Lady Gaga’s entire Born This Way album from June 10-12 at the Christopher Street West festival in West Hollywood. Up and down Santa Monica Boulevard one will find fashion fierceness realness with queens in skinny jeans and shirtless inked-up bears from Silver Lake. Heading north, the LGBT tribes gather in San Francisco on June 25, 26 to kick up their rainbow petticoats and celebrate their place in the world. San Diego Pride boasts being the fifth-largest in the United States and brings all things gay together for their parade on July 16. All queer-ventures provide pleasures to the eye, pride without prejudice and are each worth the weekend gay-cation.

But if you don’t want to or can’t get out of town, what can you do to beat the heat?! For me, when I’m not working we’re inside the cool house then to the pool then back into the chilled home, and repeat. There’s not a lot of out-and-about happening since many people travel away. Catch a movie! Slide into an afternoon feature and relax in the comfort of their iceberg theatres. Now I’m not encouraging you to sneak in “healthy” snacks. That’s just not the way one does things. But… always remember chocolate melts in heat. The air is also cranking at World Gym so you can grab a workout or just a protein shake and soak up the refrigeration. With the twenty-nine pieces of new cardio equipment and the summer specials running at the gym to get your heart rate moving, it’s a nice place to enjoy chilling out after getting worked up.

What summer jams will be having you popping that neck or shaking that ass at pool parties and on steamy dance floors like DiGS, Hunters and Toucan’s?! The Freemasons seem to have their hands on everyone lately and they deliver a 2011 remix of “I’m Coming Out” from Diana Ross with while all-grown-up Selena Gomez has hit hard with a Dave Aude shake-up of her “A Year Without Rain.” My girl Britney Spears has infused her already-fierce “Till The World Ends” with hot pop rockers Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha (who co-penned the track) providing new layers of musical texture. Man (boy) band The Reason covers an upbeat remix of “The Reason” with their Electric Allstars radio edit. Yes, this is a re-do of the Hoobastank 2004 smash hit that now has been taken over by the X Factor alum.

And you got to eat to keep up your strength! But where?! Many of the local restaurants have found that staying open for business even during the hottest of summer months has proved smart in years past. The ones I’ve spoke to said they’ll be providing great service and food as long as locals continue to dominate their spaces. It would be hard for me to fairly say go here or there. But I can encourage everyone to keep our local merchants and restaurants going by grabbing your girlfriends or husband and make a night of it out in the scene. From an early breakfast with friends to brunch by the pool or dinner under the stars, summer dining can be delicious. And the freezer aisle at the grocery store feel pretty cool, too!At the end of the day we all can be assured of a few things about the summer intensity that is on the heated horizon. First, pop on the Weather Channel for a few minutes and listen to the weather forecasts from other cities. The heat will come and many will complain locally, me included. It’s part of our dialogue and it’s obvious. But it too shall pass and then we’re reminded for the bigger percentage of time why we live here. It’s gorgeous in Palm Springs. You adapt to the heat like others deal with the snowy cold. I’m writing this on an unseasonably breezy cool May morning. A bird whistles nearby and I’m hopeful that Mother Nature is as kind tomorrow as she is today.

2011 © The Bottom Line

GAGA FOR “BORN THIS WAY”

Oh, the perks of being in media and having good friends in even better places when it comes to the newest hottest everything! Lady Gaga is dropping her long-waited album Born This Way and the children, we “monsters,” are waiting on the edge of our eggs, I mean seats. However, fierce me and connected beyond my means, has gotten a sneaky-peeky with alien ears at full attention. Here’s what I think about what I’ve heard. The album is beat-driven with powerful messages throughout of individuality, lyrics telling that being “bad” is not necessarily a bad thing and will no doubt continue to create a stir with its religious overtones and in-your-face reality check through the Lady and her words. In no particular order, these tracks turned me out (or not) and why… (Warning: Spoiler Alerts Ensue)

Born This Way (Special Edition) <<—BUY ON AMAZON HERE:)

“Born This Way” … The first single released. I was a hard sell at first because I wanted it to blow me away. When we love an artist we have very high expectations. It was great but familiar. Not necessarily a bad thing. I do love “Born This Way” with its uniting and accepting lyrics, not to mention the fiercest lyric ever written, “Don’t be a drag. Just be a queen.” Fa-Fa-Fabulous! The remixes of “Born This Way” were a’plenty and mostly really good. It is THE anthem for LGBT and those who can relate.

“Judas” … Heavy on the religion with the intention of stirring those in the pews every Sunday. Initially I thought that it was a fun sounding sequel to “Bad Romance.” It’s incredibly similar. Sorry, but my blog-my opinion. Again the beat is driving and makes me want to walk a runway or dance by ass off whipping my imaginary hair back and forth. A keeper, for sure. The video helped distinguish. I never said I didn’t like it because I do worship “Bad Romance.” And I love Gaga. There I said it.

“The Edge Of Glory” … Not a favorite but don’t hate it. Don’t not-like anything on the album. A song has to grab me and keep me through the first chorus or I’m thinking of when it may end instead of enjoying it to the finale. The sax break is reminiscent of Rob Lowe in St. Elmo’s Fire.

“Marry The Night” … 4:24 of Up! Up! Up! Great track for the album to kick into ears and gears. The driving chorus rocks my world.

“Hair” … Pride in hair. Main message. Nothing to do with the 60s musical. Nothing. Lots of synth-guitars and more dish about having great hair or impressive hair. A middle-of-the-road liking.

“You and I” … LOVE this song. Lady Gaga performed it in her Monster Ball HBO special and I fell in love with it. Mid-tempo and soulful, this musical winner is already an all-time favorite. Guitars with her playing piano. I love her voice in this gem.

“Heavy Metal Lover” … FIERCE. “I want your whisky mouth all over my blonde south.” Gaga has a way with the wicked. Love this 80s Blondie-like feature and it is one of my favorites on the album. Would love to perform this somewhere else other than in my mind. Great song! Great! Thought it could easily be called “Heavy Mental Lover,” as well.

“Electric Chapel” … More determined guitar riffs and catchy hooks brought by the Lady. Reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder.

“Government Hooker” … Not  sure of the point of this one. But it made the album so maybe it’s a grower. At first few listens, not so sure. Dance-inducing, perhaps.

“Americano” … A faster “Alejandro” maybe?! Again, not sure at first listens. I bounce my foot to the beat but similar to other pieces on album.

“Bad Kids” … Voice-box auto-tuned rebellion starts this off. Being bad is OK. Guitars get it while Gaga survives being a bad kid. Very kicky and fun. Playground entertainment. I like this one.

“Bloody Mary” … Comfortable Gaga. More religious instruction and notification. Mid-tempo and slightly dark. Add screaming and some wonderful moments around 2:45. It’s a keeper.

“Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” … This should have been called “Road to Love.” Driving Gaga. Some drama drops around 1:39 with drums and continues to build until the end. I enjoyed this.

“Scheiße” … German and delicious. I enjoyed this from first grab of the musical balls and initial tug. Sassy with textures. Very, very fun. Up! Up! Love this stunner. The erratic layers at 2:48 are sick.

I can’t wait to see how Lady Gaga’s album does on Tuesday when it officially drops! It’s going to be huge! More tracks will be released but I must give you a chance to form some opinion yourself! Thanks to Gaga for delivering us monsters new fuel for the fire. Ga-Ga Ohh-la-La.

STEVEN TAKES THE COSMOPOLITAN

STEVEN SPILLS © 92

STEVEN TAKES THE COSMOPOLITAN

To be a follower of my columns is to also know that I love Las Vegas and it loves me. I’ve happily visited many times and as I sat and counted this last adventure I added up that I’ve stayed at a dozen or so of the different hotels and resorts throughout the years. Yes, I’m a connoisseur of the finer things my one life may provide and Las Vegas makes me happy. If I wasn’t here in Palm Springs I could definitely see myself there dancing in a topless review balancing a stunning cobalt blue feathered headdress with beads and rhinestones atop my beat mug. Some dreams are just that, I’m guessing.

Some of the hotels have gone and become new. The Dunes dropped to rubble as the Bellagio was erected by Steve Wynn who then in turn moved to the former Desert Inn property and birthed a new home at Wynn/Encore. Others reinvented themselves to compete with the growing trend of the mega-luxury resort that The Strip has found as the places-to-be along Las Vegas Boulevard. Allow me to introduce the newest original creation of fabulous that has landed in Sin City known as one overwhelmingly magnificent firecracker, The Cosmopolitan.

The grand 2995-room resort sits between City Center and Bellagio, and boasts “steering clear of sameness, seeing the world through fresh eyes and wasting no opportunity while minding every detail.” With my man’s birthday and our anniversary running near on the calendar we tend to plant ourselves in Las Vegas for a weekend of culinary debauchery, a mountain of martinis and the rejuvenation only the power of bright neon lights can provide to celebrate. I knew a big time would be had after setting up a reservation that won us over from, “Please check in at VIP.”

Pieces of the puzzle continually fell in place from magazine reviews of the resort to the common man offering his take on the mega-structure. I decided to let the place to speak for itself and boy did it do some talking! After arriving we checked in to our spacious suite with its breathtaking view that made me gasp slightly as the fountain show at the Bellagio was just beginning. The premium view of The Strip is amazing. When I saw on their website http://cosmopolitanlasvegas.com that the rooms had open-air balconies (unheard of in the Gambling Capital) I knew it would become home. I need fresh air in my room and when windows don’t open even slightly, no way. Knowing what I know now, how could I ever stay somewhere else?!

After a quick refresh and change of drag, Jacques and I ventured downstairs. The casino was jammed, bartenders were serving poison by bucket loads and it was loud everywhere you went. Anyone we came in contact with from scantily-clad cocktail divas, to enthusiastic and engaging servers to the charming handsome valet were completely service oriented and extremely attentive to every moment. There was quite a “melting pot” of characters keeping the pulse going as we sniffed around. The hotel gives you a feeling of nothing you’ve ever experienced in Las Vegas. Pluck a stunning high-rise residential building out of Manhattan with amazingly decorated accommodations and impeccable service. Drop that in Sin City while placing inside a bustling casino and essential shopping floors below. That’s The Cosmopolitan.

The tranquil Sahra Spa & Hammam provides an escape away from it all. As I was led to my much-needed Sunday morning massage I walked long quiet hallways that winded and transported me to a place of forgetting where I really was. The evening before we were running late from dinner and had to basically run to catch Coco Montrese in Diva’s Las Vegas at Imperial Palace and then over to Piranha for a cocktail with Larry Edwards so the detoxing in the relaxing spa was so necessary. After the massage I steamed a bit and soaked in their all-to-myself jacuzzi pool before meeting Jacques for brunch.

Listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” later that day playing among other ambient chill-tastic tunes as we relaxed by the Boulevard Pool that overlooked The Strip, I felt there was nowhere else on earth I should be. Jacques won at slots which was nice and we enjoyed our weekend getaway deservedly and thoroughly. I didn’t want to leave! I wept slightly when I was packing for departure. The hospitality we experienced from the hotel was mind-blowing and deserving of your visit very soon. As I soaked in the traditional Japanese tub that looked out at The Strip after a delicious dinner on Sunday I took a minute or more to become serene and be thankful for what I have and what I will have.

Now onto the culinary deviancy that made us ridiculous with full content stomachs and tantalized taste buds. We fell in love with Scott Conant’s soulful menu at Scarpetta on Saturday evening. As we sat drinking wine watching the twinkling bulbs of Las Vegas chase one another we were delivered plate after delicious plate of such stunners as Duck/Foie Gras Raviolis that made us both melt and their signature Spaghetti. My mouth is watering just remembering it. Crispy Fritto Misto, Braised Short Ribs and Tuna “Suchi” also won our hearts. Jacques had the Black Farfalle and clapped his hands afterwards in delight. I screamed for the Napoleon Crème Brulle and coffee as the finale of our meal.

Sunday for brunch we found that José Andrés’ China Poblano infused the dishes of China and Mexico in a way that blew us away! I had two Mexican Mimosas but that’s my vacation thing. Our yummy menu included Huevos Con Chorizo which was served in a cast iron skillet, multiple rocking tacos, When Pigs Fly pork steam buns and Har Gau shrimp and pork belly Dim Sum. I devoured fresh warm Churros with cinnamon and caramel con leche sauce for dipping. I’m telling you, to die!

Sunday evening we finished off the weekend with more unparalleled 5-Star dining at Stephen Hopcraft’s popular “Not Your Daddy’s Steakhouse” STK. If you’ve ever tried to get into the location in L.A. then you know of its popularity and exclusivity. We started off with a round of oysters for Jacques and I had tuna sashimi. Wow! So damn good. And surprise, we both had bone-in rib steak for dinner and was presented with a wicked round of desserts including mini ice cream cones, pudding bread with salted caramel sauce and cheesecake lollipops. Yes, I admit it… I’d hate me too!

The Cosmopolitan impressed with the brilliant marketing campaign “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” which was an eye-catcher in all of the trendy and hip magazines. That’s the crowd that finds themselves there. However, we also saw an overzealous granny with her “Sophia Petrillo” wicker purse playing slots and a squealing cougar with her Italian boy toy winning at roulette. I offer, “When the world tells you ‘No,’ find yourself at The Cosmopolitan.” That would be my marketing campaign for them. From the world’s largest chandelier encasing a three-story cocktail bar to go-go goddesses in Victoria’s Secret runway fashions dancing in glass cases above The Strip, this is where the glamorous go to have a good time in Las Vegas. We’ll be back very soon!

2011 © PULP

STEVEN SPILLS #91

STEVEN SPILLS © 91

DANCING ON MY OWN 

I recently had the sweet luck of scoring a coveted media pass to the White Party here in Palm Springs. Fortunately I was able to enjoy the gay festivities without paying the exorbitant ticket prices to go many places that were at any other time free admittance. So when the generous offer came across my iPhone on that Thursday, I cleared a few things to attend the parties that weekend because I originally had no intention on going.

The boys were out in full force wearing flip-flops over perfectly manicure feet with board shorts on many a Muscle Mary and skimpy white Speedos on the Twink Brigade. The cooler weather that Mother Nature bestowed upon the Coachella Valley during the events had many questioning the attendance since sunshine wasn’t in the immediate future. Never fear since at every glance and glare there were nearly naked nellies on platforms dancing, laying on each other making out on lounge chairs and cruising one another in the Renaissance Hotel lobby on Friday when I picked up my pass. 

In the chaotic process, I met Charo who was taking photos with fans and saw where the NOH8 Campaign was in full force with Adam Bouska shooting his photographic art for equality. Charo turned to me as I was turning to go and it was like we knew each other already. We immediately kissed both cheeks, held hands and commented on how cold it was. Well, she was dressed in a paper-thin beaded gown covering her petite frame. She looked amazing! Very charming and exactly what you’d expect. Fiercely present in the moment.

That evening there was the Boxers or Briefs Boot Camp Party at the hotel which I skipped and an after-hours party that I sweetly slept through. I work fulltime and need some rest. Please. On Saturday, the official Spring Break Pool Party was in high attendance at the Renaissance Hotel while competition at the ACE Hotel across town hosted Muscle Bears and inked studs with buzzed heads and nipple rings. The average age of White Party attendees is closer to 25 than 45 so if young boys who could use some good eating over sweaty dancing attract you, sign up now and grab the decent weekend package prices early!

At the Renaissance on Saturday there were entertainers with back-up dancers and Party Poodles behind designer sunglasses dancing on one another. For being my town, I really only knew three people at this party. I was surprised. But, it was only a taste of things to come. I literally spoke to no one and in return, no one spoke to me. It was like I had gotten inside but was still looking in from the outside. Some kid thought I was Security. It was definitely a eye-opening experience. I don’t want it to sound like I’m a victim because obviously I am not. But the circuit can be a very lonely place if you are attending single. Everyone was in groups and they were tight. I don’t sugarcoat things so I’m telling you like it is.

Saturday evening was the big event the White Party and was held at the Palm Springs Convention Center. I took a nap after dinner because I haven’t gone out dancing in quite a while and needed some steam to stay out. Unfortunately I was only provided access to one pass so my husband stayed home, again. Dressed in a white Versace shirt with gold Medusa buttons and sexy jeans and motorcycle boots, I was ready to tear up the dance floor.

I arrived around 11 p.m. and strutted up to the door with a great attitude to go and my fully-charge iPhone to chat my buddy Jack Ryan up during lulls in the evening. And for those alone moments I didn’t want to spend alone. When I walked in, porn directrix and DJ Chi Chi LaRue was spinning the entire Britney Spears and Lady Gaga catalogue for her followers and shirtless sweaty sexy boys were winding through the corridors and doorways to the heavy bass penetrating from within the main room. As I entered the room I was transported to every circuit party I’ve ever been to. The thrill of the unknown and the comfort of the predictable gave me that feeling.

My spots on the dance floor are always near the outskirts and corners. It’s where I have always planted myself. I can’t stand being in the middle of the hoards. One plus about going alone, I was able to walk away at anytime, change places in the room and not have to answer to one person. Control freak, that’s me. I ran into a handful of people I knew but at the same time admittedly wasn’t looking for anyone in particular. Swedish pop sensation Robyn was headlining and entertained the crowds around 2:15 a.m. while random performances from the Las Vegas production of Zumanity hit the stage.

I jumped over to the Tea Dance right after dark on Sunday. Again, I was in the mood for some dancing figuring I’d see many more people I knew from the gym since it has been the event the locals attend every year over the other choices. By the time I arrived, of course, the kids had been going all weekend and were sloppy and somehow found themselves bumping into me when I wasn’t near anyone. “Come down, girl. Find a map,” I told one of them. No judgment from this soapbox since I have in fact been there behind blown pupils, rolling eyes and grinding teeth. But it is quite a different scene sober.

After some good dancing to the rocking Freemasons while positioned in various open spaces underneath the clear starry sky, I still didn’t see many people I knew. Dance recording artist Alexis Jordan sang her three smash hits and I decided that since there was no line at the Ferris Wheel it was a perfect time to catch a ride before the fireworks.

I walked up to the gate and stuck one finger up smiling. Translation: I want to ride and yes, I’m alone. The guy shook his head no and said I needed someone else because he couldn’t let only one rider get in. At first, I thought I misunderstood him. But no. I mentioned something like “After all the money I paid?! This is bullshit!” Which it was. (He didn’t need to know I’m a brilliant writer who didn’t and shouldn’t pay.) Luckily, the fireworks started and caught my attention with something loud and sparkly because I was about to snap on his ass. The fireworks were spectacular! I suppose that’s where most of the $130 ticket prices went towards since drinks were $12 by Belvedere which I’m sure was underwritten by the vodka company since their logo was splashed everywhere all weekend. I paid $20 to get a double-shot in my juice on Saturday and when the girl asked if I wanted more juice, I replied, “Um, no.”

Personal feelings aside (as the devil and angel sitting on my shoulders duke it out), party promoter Jeffrey Sanker delivers the elaborate yearly production to the hungry and desperate masses while charging a small fortune to attend and making one in the process. The annual event comes to town every April and always brings with it great revenue to our city and much-needed boost of energy to our often-quiet desert town. 

However, there’s a word that has become synonymous with Sanker’s name and it’s not tweed. History speaks for itself, and I only report what I see and observe when able. I encourage everyone to attend it at least once so you can make your own judgment call and will perhaps find it overwhelmingly fantastic and desperate to return next year. But, if you make plans to come, make plans to spend money. At the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder how much is too much?! And further more, I know it takes money to put this event on but what exactly are you getting for your money and who exactly benefits?!

2011 © PULP

OLYMPICS OF DRAG

Last evening was the grande finale of your favorite guilty pleasure and mine, RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV. All season we have watched the Dolls build up and break down, one by one leaving the competition and giving another the chance to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. I’ve watched RDR for three seasons now and each time the competition gets tougher and the girls get ever tougher. This is not for the weak of heart or soul because when you have a camera in your face and your nut sack and dick pulled back into your crack, you may irritably say something the editors and producers can have a field day with. Teasing and taunting us hungry viewers, creating story lines and conflict.

Where to begin?! No Mini Challenge this week since they had a music video to film for RuPaul’s new single, “Champion.” Raja gave Alexis props and mentioned that it was good to get to know her and she most deservingly should have be there with Manila and her for the Top 3. She Mail was delivered by Seduction’s Michelle Visage and it described how the Dolls would be Greek goddesses and be working with the hot Pit Crew daddies. Give me the furry one, please. As the girls became Xanadu Titans with choreographer Ryan Heffington at the movement helm, each girl gave personal realness and stuck to who they were. Lunch with RuPaul came next even though the girls were too nervous to eat the one jellybean sitting alone on the plate. Each contestant shared personal stories and gave an inner look into who they really were and where they come from.

During rehearsals with the Pit Crew sexies, Raja seemed to fear intimacy which created conflict in what the story was about causing slight grief and the editors their first chance to fuck with us viewers in showing Raja’s weakness. Don’t fall for it, we thought to ourselves. Manila was worried about her boyfriend, former RDR contestant Sahara Davenport, seeing the clips and getting jealous. Alexis had a good time and stayed true to who she was. Someone very comfortable in her own skin and it shows. When it was time to film the actual video with RuPaul, Raja continually messed up and worried it off stage. Alexis and Manila had their parts down (pun intended.) Then each girl filmed their pas-de-deux with the Pit Crew guys and Alexis said “BAM!” and cha-cha’d the house down with the biggest hair on the show to date. After it was all said and done, the girls did a group hug and got ready for the Main Stage.

Serving their fierceity and fabulousness on the runway, Raja gave us All That Jazz slink meets Victor/Victoria jazzy snazwhile Manila wore a bright green dress that was way too tight but she worked it. Alexis Mateo wore a pink glamour showgirl costume and truly shined, as did they all three. Finally Michelle Visage gave Mateo some serious props for making it this far since she was not an advocate for her staying around. Alexis lived. Each girl stayed behind to offer pros and cons of each contestant including themselves. No guest judges. Just the three: Ru, Santino and Visage.

In the end, Alexis Mateo was clocked for “her Florida drag style being too regional” which I couldn’t tell if it was a dig at Florida’s amazing drag community or what?! I’ve seen her in person and she is a fierce competitor and entertaining entertainer. She was eliminated first but held her head high and bowed (or curtsied) gracefully. Runway-walker-for-your-nerves Raja and versatile chamileonManila lip-synced for their lived one last time. It was a clean battle and I must admit they are both stars. Any one of the top three could have won and represented the show and Ru wonderfully. Manila really grew on me and I saw her winning, as well. However, the rumors be true and the blogs told the grease and Tea. Raja won and was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar while Manila, so close she could touch it, sadly “Sashay’d Away.”

If I may make a suggestion or two for next season. Have audition tapes for the judges positions or submit applications. Have a rotating judge’s seat that gives the perspective of people in the drag community and pageant circuit. Let me know where to send my audition, please. I’ll tell the Tea, hunty. Secondly, have the Dolls lip-sync and perform more often since that is what drag queens and female impersonators do. They don’t do the silly challenges you have them do but I get where it is entertainment. Third, keep it coming, Ru. We love the show and am glad that the RuPaul we would watch at Weekends in Atlanta circa ’87 has made herstory by succeeding at doing what comes naturally, shocking entertainement while bringing Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent to our televisions and lives. You better work, bitch.

THE BLONDE SQUAD HOUSEWIVES

The Real Housewives of Orange County could also be named “The OC Blonde Brigade” since our five fierce felines all have blonde hue and lots of it layered, full and luxurious. This season standout is Tamra Barney who has split from her controlling, however, sexy (now-ex) husband Simon and is dating a Latin hottie (hate that word) named Eddie. Tamra seems to be having the time of her life smiling and being fabulous, especially in that bathtub. Calientè! She gives me UK songbird Samantha Fox, at times, which is good. Naughty girls need love, too! I have always liked her, but this season is hers.

Gretchen, who I saw perched with Slade in the VIP space at the Palm Springs White Party recently, can’t decide if marriage is right for her. If the show editors have their way, it doesn’t seem like the wedding aisle has been paved in their way anytime soon even though she turned it out for her parents to renew their vows. Career-focused Gretchie has been giving Slade hell for gaining a few pounds and he, as I would be, is over it. Gretchen stays clear of Tamra since the silly mace incident at Alexis’ a.k.a Jesus Barbie’s Botox and Spa party that sent her off into a praying frenzy.  Tamra does the same not causing waves because she’s happy with Eddie and can’t be bothered terribly about it all.

Vicki took just a minute or a few seconds more off from work and attended with Tamra who wanted to give Gretchen a little payback for an evil eye comment episodes past. The entire party went swimmingly other than a seemingly jealous lesbian fitness trainer Fernanda getting in Tamra’s face about missing her “Welcome to America” party. No one wanted (or they had just had it done) botox so Alexis stepped up as gracious hostess and got a few injections since it was there. She is gorgeous but that whole opening montage about “God, family and my body is sinful” is silly and redundant to me.

At the end of the Spa party, Tamra pulled out mace with Vicki and made a joke about not having to use it referring to Gretchen. Jesus Barbie (love that!) didn’t find it amusing afterwards even though she nervously laughed at it during the time. I’m sure she prayed for all involved including new-boobs Peggy in hopes she’d go bigger in size with her own doctor. Judgement comes in many forms, even among good friends. This is just a taste of what’s going down this season in Bravo TVs Orange County.

Amen.

BROKEN DOWN DOLLS

It was a darker episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race last evening as front-runner Alexis Mateo nearly walked off set and stayed away, scaring everyone in the process. Getting to the nitty-gritty, the Mini Challenge had the Dolls advertising something they had created on the newest and queerest home-shopping network, RuVC. “Fake it ’till you make it,” Ru encouraged as each of the final four girls tried their hands at the challenge. Raja sold her sweet-smellling “gaft” which holds her manly bits in place between her legs. Manila sold some “MANila (hair and body) Spray” while Yara sold some ratted out hair braids and Alexis sold homemade hip-pads for your body. “But wait! Order now and you get these extra butt-pads, as well!” Alexis offered. Yara somehow won the challenge and was named choreographer and lead Doll on the Main Stage Challenge of creation of 3 fashions made from funny money: Bathing Suit in gold, Cocktail After-Five, and Evening Gown Eleganza for RuPaul’s “Make That Money Ball.”

Getting to the good stuff, Alexis Mateo has a mini-meltdown and walks off set because she wants to go home and is crumbling under pressure. The other Dolls wonder if that’s it, as Yara basically chases her down and tells her to get a grip and compete, which she does. All of the contestants have some drama pulling things together but in the end it all works out for the best. Judges Latoya Jackson and The Arrangement’s Gigi Levangie Grazier joined a hair-done-how Mike Ruiz and a Cher-looking Michelle Visage, who just doesn’t seem to care much for Mateo. In the Main Challenge, Raja wins the gown category,  Manila won swimsuit, and the cocktail creation was a toss-up.

The bottom two were un-surprisingly Mateo and Yara Sofia lip-syncing to Patti Labelle’s “I Think About You.” Starting out of the gate, Mateo had it down and was taking this, even with the manipulation that had reared its ugly head among the judges. Yara started to sing but turned around, dropped her gaudy gown of paper cash and collapsed on the runway. Alexis finished but it definitely was a darker final challenge than that of weeks past. Everyone was in shock at the outcome of Yara’s breakdown as Alexis humbly assisted her to her feet. Mateo was asked to stay and basically collapsed into Manila’s arms off stage from the emotional runway and strong-willed Yara Sofia was sadly asked to “Shantay… Away.” TOP THREE!

The best quote of the evening from from Raja who offered that the reason he does drag and wants to be “America’s Next Drag Superstar” is because he wants to give little boys the knowledge that there are other ways to express yourself and that it’s OK. “The Power of Fuck You” was his theme, and Ru and judges loved it, as did I.

INTERVIEWING TIM COURTNEY

SHOOTING THE GREATS

Celebrity photographer Tim Courtney now calls Palm Springs home after a life in the spotlight in Hollywood shining the photographic spotlight on others. Known for capturing celebrities in sometimes vulnerable and very candid ways by allowing them to be themselves in a relaxed but energetic setting, Tim has delivered iconic portraits every time for decades. Mr. Courtney recently granted me time in his penetrating lens and the images I received in return hurt my eyes they were so damn good! All of my wonderful new photos were shot by Tim Courtney! I know Tim personally so I invited him over to the house and had a very quiet one-on-one interview as the sunlight reflected beautifully through the window into his clear blue eyes.

Steven Michael (for The Bottom Line): So what was it that got you started in photography and what were you involved with that led you into this field of art?

Tim Courtney: I had started out as a music major in Southern California at a private university, originally from Kentucky, and started singing, songwriting and doing lots of studio recording work during this time. One of my first gigs was singing at Dolly Parton’s birthday party at Sandy Gallen’s house in Bel Air, Christmas 1982. Years had passed and I was at a crossroads not knowing where or what I really wanted to do next. I was looking through an LA Weekly and saw an ad for a photography class and put my finger on it and said that’s what I was going to do. The bizarre thing about it was that I knew nothing about it, never owned a camera and didn’t know anyone who did. The decision was completely impulsive.

What do you prefer to shoot? Image wise. Any preferences? And how were the classes you took?

Classic black and white images are what drew me to start. It’s important to me on a deeper level. I loved Herb Ritts’ black and whites and was very influenced so I took a handful of classes but realized that it would be my own style that would make me successful and happy, and became “self-taught.” I loved shooting classic nudes and decided that’s what my focus would be. The technical aspect of the course was important for me to learn but I didn’t stay as long as some do which can be up to four years. It was very frustrating, but I learned it. I decided not to be artsy in the class just get the core.

You even had to prove yourself at Visage, the agency you approached for representation, right?!

Yeah, they were a hard sell because since they also represented Herb Ritts. They compared me to him which I felt was a great complement having only owned a camera for two years. Plus, they didn’t believe black and white was a popular choice in magazines until I showed them the lead campaigns in Italian Vogue were of black and white images.

When did you ever finally warm up to color? 

I didn’t shoot color for about three years and was sticking to my guns and holding off but got pressure from the magazines to shoot it so I did. I had to appreciate how color would work for me and which types of film to use and what opportunities they offered. When I shoot, I like to use the skills on the front side so I don’t have to do so much on the back side. With Photoshop, it’s a lot different today.

How did you start getting these jobs you’re famous for? Tell us about the celebrities you’ve shot. I’m thrilled to be part of such an elite group in your portfolio.

Well, these are people who really aren’t photographed by just anybody without something going on. I’ve been blown away walking into Queen Latifah’s suite at the Ritz-Carlton where she told me I give great direction. I was in Shirley MacLaine’s apartment in Malibu shooting her portrait the morning after she gave Barbra Streisand a lifetime achievement award. I loved doing the Bea Arthur shoot at her home that was used for Life magazine. I worshiped Maude who showed me there was a bigger life outside Kentucky. These people didn’t know me but they trusted me and that’s why the shot was so good.

I’ve shot 98 Degrees, Fran Drescher, Janet Jackson, Rupert Everett, Ian McKellen. So many of them have complimented me on giving great direction. I believe that’s my forte giving something that’s natural, intimate but powerful. Not always just their image like Phyllis Diller who comes to mind. Very guarded. You don’t get anything other that what she allows. Most everyone else was very open. I always know how to enhance the career of the celebrity by the image. Also, I save companies money because I can assess situations fast and accomplish the shoot swiftly and smoothly. I shoot less and get more for my client to use.

Tell me more about shooting with Bea Arthur. Loved her! Miss her.

Well, she taught me so much about working with celebrities. Her home is divided into three separate houses and there a lot of outside area. My ideas were thrown out the window because I decided with her dogs and the natural sunlight and outside it was perfect. She had no one doing her hair and makeup for the photo shoot and wore her own clothes. I followed her and she went along and when it was over she commented, ‘That was painless.’ I loved that and had never heard it put in such a way.

What finally moved you to Palm Springs? Was it also a whim like the photography?

Oh, Steven. You’ve already seen through me. (laughs) Actually my best decisions have been made like that. Snap decisions. I’ve been told that’s what we should do. Passionate choices. It was a surprise getting here to Palm Springs. I was established in West Hollywood but wasn’t feeling that being there in the scene matched my spirit any longer. I needed more nature. I took a seven month break back to Kentucky after spending the prior year starting a photography-based non-profit organization called Picture Me Happy, picturemehappy.org, benefiting chronically terminally ill children in Southern California hospitals. I wanted to live somewhere warm and thought about San Diego but Palm Springs won.

Tim, what have you grown to love about our fair valley? How do you find Palm Springs as a single man?

I’ve found Palm Springs to be very nurturing. Either you love it or you’re going hate it. It’ll either match your spirit or you’ll be ready to leave soon. Living here makes you feel like you are a part of a community and I’m very happy. As a single man?! (laughs) When I first moved to town I was a kid in a candy store. I loved having a second round at 47-years-old. I had to put myself out there and be part of the dialogue. I think coffeehouses are a great thing. It’s a great way to meet people. I push myself because it’s important for the spirit to nurture by being introduced to others. I’ve gained some relationships here in Palm Springs that have made my life richer.

When did you have that ‘aha’ moment where you thought, I’ve made it? I’m really doing this.

Wow. Hmm, that’s interesting. The decision to start the photography was an aha moment, for sure. Wasn’t sure where it would go but was ready for it. I had an aha moment staying for three days at Maya Angelou’s home and having her embrace me, literally, and sharing our time together. She had given me more respect and love as a professional and another human spirit that overrode anything else I had ever experienced with another celebrity. She was very giving of herself to me that day. We became very close. Another aha moment I had was attending the Vanity Fair party positioned between Tom Ford and Brad Pitt. And of course seeing magazine covers or my images used for other promotional and advertising media.

You meditate every day and I envy that! Tell me more about the clairvoyance and medium aspect in your life. I’m sorry to say I’m open to possibilities but am also skeptic.

Oh, yes. Well, me too! I do a meditation every day in various way on any given day. I write and also love dancing. It makes me feel free! Sometimes I pray. I’m not into religion. I do believe we all need a belief system. Whatever works for you. In the psychic and clairvoyant work I do, I always ask for solutions. I don’t go around telling people my spin on what I feel and hear and see. I will let you know this information when it’s pro-active. I don’t know where it comes from. If I find out I’ll let you know. I discovered the ability at a personal growth workshop and it evolved from there. I’m just to here to help provide clarity in situations. I love personal readings because it’s what’s coming up right then when people are at a crossroads. I do my best to keep a real humility to that part of my life. I’ve been given a gift that can help people and that’s what I do.

What’s coming up for you? Plans, projects?

I’ve just really started getting things going since the first of the year. DiGS in Cathedral City is holding a benefit for Picture Me Happy on May 22 and we’re also having a charity pool party on May 14, as well. As far as photography goes, I’ve put my toe back in Los Angeles and have a few things happening. I’m also working on “Palm Springs, We Love It!” which I hope will become a big community photo competition. More to come on that. I love helping make people become more successful with my photography. I’m so happy here in Palm Springs but have begun to get really busy and I’m blessed for that. If I’ve made a decision in my heart, I’m going for it.

To book your session with Tim, please contact him through his website http://timcourtneyphotography.com. I can speak first hand, Tim is amazing. And I thank him for taking time with me to share his story with you.

2011 © The Bottom Line