Street signs posted across the Coachella Valley reveal its long relationship to Hollywood as a frequent getaway or part-time residence for the entertainment industry’s elite. Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe are a few of the legends now immortalized in the desert as sculptures, if not roadside or building markers.
Today, some of the biggest stars converge in Palm Springs each January for the international film festival gala. Past honorees have included Sean Penn, Glenn Close, Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Bradley Cooper, Naomi Watts, and many others. Apart from this glitzy, increasingly prestigious affair, the desert community continues to have star appeal.
Just mention Palm Springs among celebrated performers (you know, if you should see them congregating at Starbucks or the DMV) and you’ll likely hear fond or unforgettably laughable memories of a desert experience. Here a few that were shared with me during the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s annual Vanguard Awards on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles.
“I freaking love Palm Springs. I just love the whole feel of the city. It’s so laidback and you can make it whatever you want it to be.”
Wilson Cruz, who hosted the 2013 Desert AIDS Walk. He particularly likes hiking in the desert.
“I visited for the first time in April. A friend invited me out. It’s hot as hell. I was roasting, but we had a blast with good food, by the pool, in the spa.”
Dascha “Dash” Polanco who portrays Dayanara Diaz on “Orange is the New Black”
“Oh, do I know Palm Springs. I was pulled off the stage at an AIDS benefit there—for trashing President Bush. I think it was in 2004. I wasn’t surprised when I was pulled off the stage. I’ve been back a couple of times. I love Palm Springs.”
Lea Delaria who plays Big Boo on “Orange is the New Black”
Photos by Getty Images