Share your thoughts on White Party and Dinah weekends

Two of the largest gay and lesbian parties in the country have been held in Palm Springs for more than two decades padding the city with tourism dollars and revelry.

The gay-themed White Party runs Friday through Sunday with pool parties, dance parties and an outdoor concert at the Renaissance Hotel and Palm Springs Convention Center.

The Dinah takes place April 3-7 with pool parties, dance parties, a comedy show and other events at several different venues.

The Desert Sun wants to hear from locals who have attended either of the events or are familiar with them and want to share their opinions?

What do you think about the two long-running festivals? Do you love them or could you live without them?

E-mail your opinions to or call me at (760) 778-4647.

Has your family been in Palm Springs at least 75 years?

Palm Springs turns 75 this year.

To help commemorate the milestone we want to hear from longtime residents who have roots in the city going back at least 75 years.

We’d like to hear your stories about what Palm Springs was like and how it has changed over the years.

Share your favorite memories.

Tell us what you like about living in the city and where you see its future heading.

Call Palm Springs reporter Xochitl Pena at 760-778-4647 or send an e-mail to

K-Swiss Players Party a hit

Lance Bass

I’m glad I took my mother-in-law to the K-Swiss Desert Smash Players Party with me last night.

If not for her, I may have never noticed the short list of celebrities and tennis pros that attended the event at Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta, the latest restaurant by Lee Morcus of the Kaiser Restaurant Group.

As soon as I walked in, I immediately noticed  Timothy Olyphant who plays the scruffy but sexy U.S. Marshal in FX’s Justified. He was at the bar talking to a woman.

But as I walked further into the huge architecturally eye-catching building previously occupied by Omri and Boni,  I walked right past Lance Bass – my second favorite N’Sync band member.  (My favorite is obviously Justin Timerberlake, not Tarantula head)

My mother-in-law though noticed him right away and made sure to point him out to me.

She’s tall – almost 6 feet. Whereas I’m barely 5 feet – so it can be hard to notice people in the crowd.

“Where’s Jeremy Piven. I hear he’s here,” I say to her later in the evening. “He’s right behind you,” she said.

I was within nudging distance of him – so close he may have heard me asking about him.

There were some people I noticed all on my own though.

As a fan of Top Chef, it was hard to not notice Chris “CJ” Jacobsen who at 6 ‘8 ½ towers above the crowd.

Jacobsen, considered a fan favorite,  was voted off too early in my opinion in the most recent airing of the Bravo reality show.

Promotions of the event mentioned  other celebrities such as Joe Pesci, Justin Chambers, Bob Sinclair and Michael B. Jordan who were supposed to be there.

They may have been, but I didn’t see them – and I’d definitely notice Pesci running around.

The party was a follow-up bash to the 9th annual K-Swiss Desert Smash at the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta which benefited Variety – The Children’s Charity.

Pro players Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Fernando Verdasco, Sam Querrey and Bob and Mike were all expected to attend.

The only tennis pros I saw were Querry and Verdasco – again thanks to my mother-in-law who as a tennis player herself and fan of the sport was able to easily spot them.

You can’t have a party without entertainment – which was enthusiastically provided by LMFAO’s Party Rock Crew.

Redfoo — aka Stefan Kendal Gordy – was there in full-haired form but I didn’t see his girlfriend Victoria Azarenka, the No. 1 ranked female tennis player.

The Party Rock Crew played all their hits and pumped up the party with their signature high energy performance that included a huge blow-up Zebra on stage, party favors thrown into the crowd and confetti.

This isn’t the typical party you’d take your mother-in-law to, but I think she had a good time – as did I.

Tennis pro Fernando Verdasco with a fan.

Jeremy Piven and ESPN Reporter Jill Mongomery in center


Tennis pros and celebrities to party in La Quinta

Recording artist Redfoo of LMFAO returns the ball to Serena Williams during the BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition tennis match Monday, March 4, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Redfoo was invited on the court by Victoria Azarenka. (AP)

Top tennis players and celebrities are expected to attend the Desert Smash Players Party Tuesday night at Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta following the 9th Annual K-Swiss Desert Smash Tennis charity event.

Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Fernando Verdasco, Sam Querrey and Bob and Mike Bryan are among tennis pros expected to attend.

Anticipated celebrities include Joe Pesci, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Chambers, Bob Sinclair, Michael B. Jordan, Jill Montgomery and “Top Chef” contestant and chef Chris “CJ” Jacobsen.

Entertainment will be provided by LMFAO’s Party Rock Crew with their signature high energy music. LMFAO’s Redfoo — aka Stefan Kendal Gordy – dates top-ranked tennis player Victoria Azarenka.

The event also provides a sneak peek at the new Mediterranean restaurant by Lee Morcus with cuisine by executive chef François de Mélogue.

The K-Swiss Desert Smash charity event benefits Variety – The Children’s Charity.

FULL COVERAGE: The 2013 BNP Paribas Open


Awards Gala After-party

The Parker Palm Springs is a great place to star watch on the weekends or holiday’s because a vacationing celebrity is bound to stay there.

Saturday was an especially great day to catch a celeb since the after party for the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala was there.

By the time I got to the hotel around 10 p.m. I was told by a slew of photo snapping fans that Sally Field and Alan Arco (she meant Alan Arkin) had already walked by. I understood her mistake – Alan Arkin was in the movie Argo – but I still had to chuckle.

Right away I noticed security was much stricter, they weren’t even letting people out into the hotel courtyard without a ticket. Luckily I had mine.

As soon as you enter the party zone you’re underneath an enclosed temporary structure set up with tall tables and sleek white lounging couches.

Wait staff walk around offering guests fried artichokes, beef wellington and steak kabobs. Of course there’s an open bar with Ketel One Vodka as host.

Inside there’s a table with endless cheeses and vegetables and a desert table with sweet treats too pretty to eat.

There also dance floor inside the ballroom with a DJ spinning the latest hits.

I didn’t see Sally Field or Alan Arkin or Ben Affleck or Bradley Cooper (even though someone told me he was there).

The only actors/entertainers I bumped into were Charo and John Hawkes who had presented Helen Hunt, his co-star in The Sessions, with the Spotlight Award earlier in the night at the awards gala.

I got a brief chance to chat up the Oscar nominated actor who said it was “the story and script” that attracted him to The Sessions. He plays a 38-year-old paralyzed man who wants to lose his virginity and seeks the help of Hunt, a sex therapist.

It was “a role I haven’t seen before very often,” he said.

I also saw several directors including Ang Lee, Tom Hooper and David O. Russell who loosened his tie towards the end of the night and became the star of the party with his fun dance moves and frivolity which included a dance circle in the middle of the ballroom.

He did mention that he liked the local film fest because it was “robust.”

I can’t forget our politicians. Mary Bono Mack (former Congresswoman married to the late Sony Bono who started the film festival 24-years ago) and her husband Connie Mack were there including newly elected Congressman Raul Ruiz who replaced Bono Mack.

The after party typically winds down just after midnight, but for some reason the last stragglers weren’t kicked out until 1 a.m. which was fine by me.





Ramirez ousted; Zepeda in

Gilbert Ramirez Jr., a longtime councilman who served almost 20 years lost re-election Tuesday.

Newcomber Magdalena “Maggie” Zepeda, a teacher, will join the Coachella City Council alongside Mayor Pro Tem Emmanuel Martinez who won his bid for re-election.

According to unofficial results released early today, Zepeda garnered the most votes receiving 33.77 percent of the vote followed by Martinez with 28.4 percent.

Ramirez came in third with 19.41 percent, followed by Jesse Villarreal with 18.42 percent of the vote.

Ramirez did not return a phone call Tuesday for comment and was not available Wednesday.

Zepeda on Tuesday said she was “overwhelmed” but excited about her new role.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m just the challenger coming in,” she said.

Zepeda thinks it was her reputation that helped convince voters to support her.

“People know me and they know I do good work,” she said.

Zepeda becomes the first woman on the City Council since Rosanna Contreras lost re-election in 2004.

“Coachella has just made the best decision. I won’t let anyone down,” she said.

In the mayoral race, Eduardo Garcia was elected to his third term with 71.7 percent of the vote. He defeated businessman and former city planning director Carmen Manriquez.

Manriquez, a long-time resident of Coachella, attributes his loss to lack of experience.

“Garcia and his running mates have been around for a while–they got support from other politicians such as Perez,” he said.

“They had the expertise and support from one another.”

Despite his defeat, Manriquez feels good about the experience he gained, which he describes as “invaluable.”

“I’m not going away,” Manriquez said. “I’m staying involved with the community. I’m a resident. I have that right.”

In a last-minute swing, newcomer Beatriz “Betty” Sanchez was elected Treasurer with 49 percent of the votes.

Sanchez beat out Sara Carranza, an educator, and Irene “India” Zarate.

Though it was her first time running for a city position, Sanchez has been involved in her community on smaller levels for many years. She remembers running for school government in middle school and high school.

“If you want to know what happens in your city, you’ve got to get involved,” said Sanchez Tuesday night as she handed out candidacy flyers outside of City Hall. “I feel passionate about my city.”

Beatriz Barajas was elected City Clerk, as early results predicted. She beat out Carmelo Calderon, a youth minister and her only contender.




Best decision Coachella has ever made

20121106-235533.jpgEarly results in the Coachella City Council race show newcomer Maggie Zepeda with the most votes.

Mayor Pro Tem Emmanuel Martinez trails her for the second seat.

She is overwhelmed but excited about her potential new role. She would also become the only woman on City Council if the votes continue in her favor.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m just the challenger coming in,” she said.

As a longtime resident of the area, Zepeda said people know her and attributes her vote lead to her reputation.

“Coachella has just made the best decision. I won’t let anyone down.”


Garcia and Martinez lead

20121106-225008.jpgEarly results show Mayor Eduardo Garcia in the lead against challenger Carmen Manriquez.

“I think the numbers speak for itself,” said Garcia when asked to what he attributes his early lead.

“The message was very clear: move forward in a fiscally responsible manner.”

In the lead for Coahella City Council is Mayor Pro Tem Emmanuel Martinez and newcomer Maggie Zepeda.

If the two continue to lead, that means longtime Councilman Gilbert Ramirez could be out.

“I’m very happy. We’ll see where we end up,” said Martinez.



Dems in Coachella can party

20121106-222913.jpgThe Democratic Headquarters in Coachella where Assemblyman Manuel Perez and other local candidates were running their campaigns was filled with hundreds of people in anticipation of the results.

Walking through the parking lot you could smell the carne asada and carnitas even before getting to the door.

The sound of a live band made the mood festive.

Children ran around and laughed as they rode a child appropriate mechanical bull and jumped on an inflatable bouncy house.

A big screen TV was set up in a corner so people could watch the results.




Congregation support

20121106-194925.jpgMembers of Templo la Hermosa in Coachella were outside City Hall passing out fliers and asking voters to support their pastor Jesse Villarreal who is running for City Council.

The flier she handed out not only promoted Villarreal but also Councilman Gilbert Ramirez and Carmen Manriquez for Mayor.

The flier asked for support of these candidates to stop “unjust taxes, water rates, sewer rates” and the “misuse of city funds.”

“They are going to be changing the city,” said Castro.