PROUD IN PALM SPRINGS

ProudInPS_Bella da Ball

In celebration of Pride this month, we asked people who live, work and play in the desert what they love most about living in Palm Springs.

BY PAULO MURILLO

ProudInPS_Steve PougnetMayor Steve Pougnet 

Mayor of Palm Springs

West Hollywood and Long Beach are not the only cities in SoCal with openly gay mayors. Palm Springs’ current mayor Mayor Steve Pougnet, is a member of the Democratic Party, who also happens to be gay. Pougnet is a father of two children. He and his partner Christopher Green purchased a home in Palm Springs in 1995, and became permanent residents in 2001.

Pougnet is preparing for this year’s Palm Springs Pride celebration, which will be held this month in a new location—in the heart of downtown Palm Springs.

“The Palm Springs Pride Parade and Festival is one the biggest and fastest growing in the United States,” he tells THE FIGHT. “I want to welcome all those in the LGBT community visiting our city for this important weekend when we celebrate our many successes—while never forgetting the continued fight for equality. When it comes to celebrating PRIDE, Palm Springs truly is like no place else. Enjoy the festivities!”

ProudInPS_Bella da BallBELLA DA BALL 

Drag Entertainer

Bella Da Ball is a resident, organizer, event planner, social activist, ambassador, cruise director, promoter, plugger, entertainer, hostess, and overall leader of the pack in Palm Springs.

According to Bella, big hair is happy hair, so the hair is huge, the legs are long, the heels are high, and the skirts are short.

The man behind Bella is Brian Wanzek, who created the character back in 2000 for a Y2K event. He lives with his partner of 20 years, and their dog.

Bella will MC and host the 4th Annual Broadway and Drag Pageant at the Palm Canyon Theatre on Friday, November 7. She will be on the Palm Canyon Drive stage at the festival grounds during Palm Springs Pride with 120 entertainers over the weekend. Keep an eye out for her on a float at the pride parade on Sunday, November 9.

“I love Palm Springs,” she tells THE FIGHT. “It’s always about events, parties, activities, work, and nonstop fun. It really is a good time.”

To follow Bella’s every move, visit belladaball.com.

ProudInPS_Kurt CyrKURT CYR 

Interior Designer

Interior designer Kurt Cyr has been a Palm Springs weekender since 1999, before making the city his fulltime home four years ago with his partner Jay Zaltzman.

Cyr, a designer for over 25 years, writes about design and specializes in sketch, graphic and fabric design. He refurbishes furniture, creates holiday products, and puts his own spin on mid-century modern.

Cyr is also the founder of “Salon for the Parched,” a creative think tank for people who think outside of the box, which has grown from half a dozen people gathering at his home, to a much larger group of 40 to 50 people.

“Life in Palm Springs is fabulous. I have a far richer social life, than I ever did in Los Angeles after living there for 28 years,” he says. “People think of Palm Springs as God’s waiting room, but the demographic of Palm Springs is much younger than it used to be. People from all over who love Palm Springs have found a way to make it possible to live here and work here.”

For more on Kurt Cyr Design, visit kurtcyr.com.

ProudInPS_Tomas RamirezTOMÁS RAMIREZ 

Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tomás Ramirez, Destination Services Manager at the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, moved to the Palm Springs area two years ago from Washington, DC. It was love at first sight—he reveals—when he came to the desert for a two-week vacation. Three months later he sold everything and moved to his home in Greater Palm Springs.

Ramirez’s job entails working with travel industry professionals and media to promote tourism to Greater Palm Springs.

“I call this place fantasyland for all ages,” he tells THE FIGHT. “It’s an amazing place to call home. Beyond the 350-plus days of sunshine a year, the destination hosts world-class events, features cutting edge culinary experiences, home to world-class art, exudes Hollywood glamour and so much more.

To learn more about Greater Palm Springs check out visitgreaterpalmsprings.com.

ProudInPS_John PaschalJOHN PASCHAL 

Photographer

John Paschal has owned a house in Palm Springs for 15 years, but he’s been a fulltime PS resident for five years. He married his partner of over five years this past February. Paschal owns Snapshot Palm Springs photography studio, which is a 4,000 square foot space located in the heart of Palm Springs, where he conducts photo shoots and rents the space out to local production companies.

Paschal recently braved wearing a dress, wig and makeup for a good cause as the Check Puppy for the “Best in Drag” event in Los Angeles in support of Aid for AIDS, which helped raise over $4000,000 this year.

“Palm Springs is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.” He says. “I always knew since I was a young boy that was going to end up living here. When I was partying in my early 20s, everybody wanted to go to San Diego, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, but I always wanted to go to Palm Springs. People thought I was crazy. The demographic is changing. New buildings are going up. There are nice restaurants offering fine dining and everything is new. I welcome the change. I love it.”

To learn about John Paschal’s photography, visit snapshotpalmsprings.com.

ProudInPS_Rich ColbertRICH COLBERT 

Entrepreneur

Rich Colbert purchased a house in Palm Springs ten years ago, where he currently lives with his husband Kenny Taylor, who he married in May of this year, after being together for 23 years.

Colbert is the publisher of The Sobriety Calendar-a colorful daily reminder of all things recovery based. The calendar is jammed packed with 365 days of experience, strength, hope and humor with the help of art director Christopher Harrity.

“We visited Palm Springs for many, many years before we decided to buy a house there,” he says of his home in the desert. “It’s a great vibrant city close to Los Angeles, but just far away enough so that we feel like we’ve actually gone somewhere, but still within a great proximity to Los Angeles where we like to stay connected.”

For more on the Sobriety Calendar, visit sobrietycalendar.com.