Chaps Inn caters to the gay leather and bear communities

Chaps Inn caters to the gay leather and bear communities

The Chaps Inn offers comfort and relaxation in a secluded environment.

Stuart and Ian have owned the resort for almost 20 years, coming to Palm Springs from the UK.

“We had nothing to do with the hotel business at all, we just went straight in cold turkey,” Ian said. “We woke up one morning and thought, ‘Now what?’ It’s been a very good experience.”

The Chaps Inn is a 10-room clothing-optional gay resort, with a saltwater pool and spa. Most rooms have kitchens or kitchenettes, some have private patios, and the hotel is within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs. It caters to the leather and bear communities, and sees a lot of return guests.

“They always tell us what a wonderful time they’ve had, and that they will be back,” Ian said.

When they purchased the property, it was a straight resort and not clothing optional, but Stuart and Ian quickly picked up a client base through word of mouth. The couple enjoys getting to meet their new guests and greet return ones, and they don’t mind when the temperature soars.

“The weather is fabulous,” Ian said. “We’re both from England, so we absolutely love the heat.”

Author: Andrew Schaeffer

I’m not an outdoorsy guy. I’m in my element when I’m lounging on the couch binging something on Netflix. But, I needed to change that habit and get out and get moving—and what better way to do so than by going somewhere with plenty of outdoor activities?

Early evening, and the still-blistering heat of Palm Springs, California conspires with the cooling blue of an outdoor swimming pool. I consider downing my Martini, ripping off my dinner wear and diving in.

An older gay gentleman with the right idea comes walking towards me, palm outstretched, smiling widely.

First, I regret the announcements: Not quite ready to take the plunge, Splash House has been rescheduled for August; Pride will happen in November. I know! I’m verklempt too. However, there’s still an awful lot of fun to be had this June in Palm Springs. And I hear they’ll be back soon.

Oh, before we get to events, it’s good to mention that we’ve got a few specials going on. Each boutique hotel has a different vibe and their own brand of swagger. Make sure to check them out here.

Okay. June. Planned events, then some build-your-own adventures. Let’s go!

Special Events

June 22-28 – At the top of the list is Palm Springs Short Film Festival. Per Variety, “Palm Springs Shortfest will be the first film festival of 2021 in California to hold all of its screenings in-theater when the event takes place at the Camelot Theatres (aka Palm Springs Cultural Center). Check them out too.

June 17th – Cast & Crew screening of Palm Springs Women in Film & Television’s two short films, “Accidental Date” and “Aftermath.” 6pm reception, 7pm screening followed by a Q&A for both films. Camelot Theater (PS Cultural Center) in Palm Springs.

Oscars – they keep adding events (yay!), so here’s what’s listed as of this writing. Check the link to see if there are additions.

  • Melissa Manchester @ Oscars June 17 & 18
  • Gunhild Carling @ Oscars June 10 5:30 & 9:30, Sweden’s Queen of Swing. Famous for playing trombone, she also plays bagpipes, trumpet, recorder, string instruments and will often play them all in one song, sometimes casually breaking into a tap dance or singing.

Four Twenty Bank and Lounge – The dispensary, lounge, and entertainment venue is located on Palm Canyon and Baristo (this is important, used to be at 777 Palm Canyon). They’ve got a great stage, but check their calendar. There was a Bowie tribute band and a Journey tribute band scheduled when I checked a day ago, but they’re gone, and others added. Things are still coming together on their line-up, but the Lounge is still pretty badass.

PS Underground: Book well in advance; these are the hottest shows in town. Ticketing links below.

  • June 11:  IMAGINE. A multiple course journey of music and food. “What would it feel like to climb into music and let it tantalize your every sense?”
  • June 13: GOSPEL –  a multiple course Sunday brunch with fantastic food and toe-tapping, hand clapping gospel music from the band onstage.
  • June 18: ENIGMA – a puzzling or inexplicable experience or occurrence. “Things are not always as they seem as we navigate through this feast for all senses. …an over-the-top unexplainable out-of-the-box immersive dinner experience.”
  • June 25: LIGHT – “Wear white and bring to the table an open mind and a sense of adventure. Prepare yourselves for an evening of the truly unexpected.
  • June 27: OVATION – A jazzed up Sunday Brunch, “Surprise performers and musicians…free-flowing, bubbly and Bloody Mary’s are included.

On-Going Events

I’m recycling some of these from last month because, FUN! Once again, an asterisk denotes that I have been and it’s fabulous.

*Thursday afternoons are free at Palm Springs Art Museum from 5-7 p.m. Make a reservation.

Saturdays: Saturday Night Flight at PS Air Bar.”Boarding time”  5 p.m.

Wine tastings at Bouschet. They keep adding dates so I’m just linking to their website. Also, their California Caesar is bowl-licking good (the fancy bowl makes it hard, though), and a friend likes their macaroni salad so much he asked for the recipe.

Saturdays: Not Your Grandma’s Bingo at Chill Bar from 12-2 p.m. The name says it all.

*Sundays: Palm Springs Drag Brunch, with Rosemary Galore and her queenly court at Roly China Fusion.

*Saturdays and Sundays – I have written about Palm Springs magic before, but Crystal Fantasy is our go-to guide for crystals, sage, tarot cards, and all things material to interact with or distract the spiritual realm. Saturday and Sundays they have a Psychic/Healing Arts Fair, where you pick your psychic (or did they pick you, hmmm?). Check the website for times and the cool classes they have during the week.

*Sundays: It’s the Pro-Jazz Jam from 2-5 p.m. at Palm Canyon Roadhouse. It’s all the best players in the Coachella Valley led by solid jazz musician, Mikale Karr.

And, drumroll please, the most raucous dance party in Palm Springs is back! It’s Oscar’s T-Dance, Sunday’s from 4-8 pm. You can hear it blocks away. Mostly gay men, but I’ve been and it was a gas!

Day-Time Activities

*Like Mid-Mod? Or the architecturally significant homes of the stars? Palm Springs Life has a self-guided tour app. It’s a great fix as we wait for tours to restart, and Modernism Week to return.

*CannaBUS Express Tours, there’s no other like it. Any canna-curiosity you might have will be replaced with knowledge from their Extreme Green Team. BONUS: it’s hella-fun.

If you’re staying in a boutique hotel, there’s a good chance there’s work by a local artist hanging on a wall, or sitting on a table. That’s because creativity is off-the-charts flowing unlike the rain in Palm Springs. Art has many expressions, and at the indoor Mojave Flea Trading Post, artists and crafters of every ilk come together in a 10,000 sq. ft. marketplace of makers & merchants from Joshua Tree, the Coachella Valley, and beyond.

And guys, check this out: you can take a ride in an old warbird at Palm Springs Air Museum! The Warbird Ride has six options: C-47 Skytrain, T-28 Trojan, PT-17 Stearman, P-51 Mustang and the T-33 Shooting Star Jet.  While you’re there, make sure to take a tour of the *Palm Springs Air Museum. It’s cooler than you might think.

That’s it for events, but I’m super excited to play show and tell with all of the fun and funky spots for your Instagram page. I found some fabulous filters, so I used them. Hope you likey. It’s my first try. You’ll find out why this chair sits on a pedestal.

As always, please shop and stay at locally-owned businesses. And if you go to any of our hotels or enjoy our recommendations, please be sure to tag us with your photos on IG, or @palmspringspreferredsmallhotel (yeah, it’s a lot to type, but we appreciate it!)  #PSPSH

It’s event season here in Palm Springs and the weather is beautiful. Our quaint town is buzzing with activity and fun events. Check out these must-attend upcoming LGBTQ events in Palm Springs.

February 8, 2020

The 26th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards

For 26 years, The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards has been honoring Humanitarians from all corners of the globe. They are people who radiate compassion – who seem to have been born for a higher purpose. The 26th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards will honor Hank Plante, Garry Kief, and Ambassador Deborah L. Birx M.D and feature entertainment from Kristin Chenoweth. The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards is attended by more than 2,000 of the Coachella Valley’s most fashionable humanitarians making red carpet arrivals and the after-party events unto themselves. This year marks the 26th year for Desert AIDS Project’s largest fundraising event which is named for one of DAP’s earliest financial supporters, the designer Steve Chase.  Find out more here.

February 20-24, 2020

International Bear Convergence

The International Bear Convergence is the premier winter LGBT for bears and the admirers. This is a five-day event where the community can get together and enjoy activities that range from pool parties to live DJ performances. Find out more here.

March 21, 2020

Red Dress Dress Red

The Center’s Red Dress Dress Red on March 21 from 8 to 11pm at the Palm Springs Air Museum is not only the hottest dance party of the Palm Springs Season, it is THE party of the Season! Whether it’s a frock, fishnets, or a fantasy come to life, Red Dress Dress Red is an opportunity for you to harness your creative expression and to share that gift in a community of 1,500 other visionaries-to-be. Once you’ve arrived, your body will be sure to pulse to the beats by DJ Galaxy that will fill the Palm Springs’ night sky. With all that energy in the air, and Mt. San Jacinto as our backdrop, we’ll treat you to an open bar and tasty bites from area restaurants to round out this night of delight. Find out more here.

April 1-6, 2020

Club Skirts presents The Dinah

More than 15,000 women from all over the world will gather in Palm Springs for The Dinah, also known as The Dinah Shore Weekend by Club Skirts. This LGBT event has been in Palm Springs for 30 years and is the largest, most famous all girl event and music festival in the world. Enjoy comedy, pool parties, galas, theme parties and more, come and celebrate, unite, empower and live out loud. Find out more here.

 

“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” — Liberace

When you Google “best gay cities,” my results did not include one single listicle mentioning Palm Springs. What? People, our entire city council is LGBTQIA, and from Wikipedia’s entry for Gay Village: “An estimated 33 to 50 percent of Palm Springs, California, are gay male or other parts of the LGBTQ community; this statistic makes them the largest percentage community in the US.”

In 2016, Palm Springs received a final score of 100 points in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. Our city exceeded the highest possible final score of 100 with a raw score of 109, and we’ve kept that score through their last report of 2020.

Speaking of the ’20s, 100 years ago, Palm Springs began its journey as a playground for celebrities and the LGBTQ+ community thanks to Dr. Florilla White and her sister Cornelia. The two “independent and eccentric women” (code: lesbian) purchased the Palm Springs Hotel and spiffed it up a bit. Rudolph Valentino spent his second honeymoon there (it was escandalo!), and Greta Garbo demanded the premiere of Camille be held at the new Plaza Theater while she stayed at the hotel. Side note: if it weren’t for the founding mothers of Palm Springs (the White Sisters, Nellie Coffman, Lois Kellog —she was a wild one! — and Pearl McCallum McManus), it might still be a dusty little town. And the Cahuilla likely wouldn’t be where they are today without the 1950s all-women tribal council. Historically, in Palm Springs, men beat the drum of awareness while the women quietly made history. Sisters, amirite?

Liberace.

Palm Springs is so gay Liberace, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Barry Manilow and gay icons Cher and Carol Channing had/have homes here. Not to mention the other “maybe they were, maybe there weren’t” plethora of stars. Although there is speculation, it doesn’t really matter, because Palm Springs has always offered personal privacy. No one is getting “outed” if they don’t want to be out.

Courtesy of CV Independent

In the 1980s, two anti-gay and AIDS-related bills were soundly trounced and, according to a 2017 article in Palm Springs Life, in 1991 club owner Gloria Green opened the first gay bar on Arenas Road, A Streetbar Named Desire (now known as Streetbar). I qualify that with the Palm Springs Life article because most accounts attribute the bar to Dick Haskamp and Hank Morgan, who apparently purchased it in the same year. So something is a little sketchy about the origins — however, Arenas would soon build up to become an all-gay city block with clubs and stores catering to gay men.

Pride was first celebrated in Palm Springs with a showcase called Sizzle. It wasn’t well received or advertised, and Sizzle fizzled out until 1992. By 1997, The Desert Sun estimated 30,000 people watched the (now) Pride parade.

Our gayness isn’t limited to Arenas. Oscar’s is alive almost every night with gay-leaning entertainment and Sundays is all about celebrating your gayness at the T-Dance. You can hear the party from blocks away.

We have so many drag queens they could hold court for an entire generation of royals, and they’re damn fine. Late night entertainment at The Copa and Toucans include long-running drag shows that pack the rooms, and drag brunches abound in our exceptionally inviting cozy town.

The San Francisco establishment of transgender performers AsiaSF chose Palm Springs as its second home. They opened just before the pandemic, and I’m told will reopen again in November — maybe December — of this year. I went to the opening in early 2020 (before you know what): these ladies are hot AF.

Some of the finest dining in Palm Springs is brought to you by gay restaurateurs. Roly China Fusion, Tropicale, Eight4Nine, Trio, PS Underground (an exciting take on dinner theater), The Purple Room (supper club), and 533 Viet Fusion to name just a few not on Arenas.

Desert Rose Playhouse is the one and only LGBTQ theater company and venue in the Coachella Valley. Now in Palm Springs proper at the old Zelda’s Nightclub space, they produce, support and elevate LGBTQ stories, actors, playwrights, and musicians. I have never been disappointed by their productions. So far this year I have seen The Great American Trailer Park Musical and Rocky Horror, and have tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s a great space with a great vibe and the shows are delicious.

We have an LGBTQ+ community center, PFLAG (for supporters), and a retirement community for gays called Stonewall Gardens. We have two gay radio stations, the Gay Desert Guide, and the Palm Springs Cultural Center, with a mixture of artsy blockbusters and showcasing gay-themed films.

If you check out our website (already sorted for you!), you’ll find we have 11 resort hotels catering to gay men, some clothing optional. The Warm Sands area is generously dotted with gay boutique hotels.

One of my favorite things that hasn’t yet returned in the pandemic is our star drag queen Bella da Ball (aka Brian Wanzek) reading stories to kids at the Palm Springs Library. Bella even has her own star on our Walk of Stars.

There’s DAP, Desert AIDS Project, a terrific medical establishment that not only caters to gays living with AIDS but also administers to MediCal patients. I was on MediCal for a bit and they provide stellar care (I was sad when my insurance switched). They also run the resale stores Revivals which have terrific bargains on gently-used items, and some brand-new stuff too. Profits benefit DAP.

And of course there is the big event, Palm Springs Pride.

Some “must” events sent to me by Bella Da Ball:

November 1, 6 to 7 p.m.: George Zander Candlelight Vigil and March, 101 N. Museum Dr.

Beginning at the new downtown park (Museum Way and Museum Drive), this rally and march is in honor of George Zander. Six years ago to the day, George and Chris Zander were attacked in downtown Palm Springs, resulting in George’s death on December 10, 2015. This remembrance of George’s life keeps his memory alive, so that no other individual falls victim to a crime of hate.

November 7, 5 to 10 p.m.: Effen Vodka main stage, near the Hyatt Hotel on North Palm Canyon Drive. Party. Huge stage. Special video screens.

But wait, there’s even more eye candy than the parade! On November 5 and 6, enjoy the West Coast premiere of Global Rainbow by American artist Yvette Mattern. Specially designed lasers project a large-scale abstraction of a natural rainbow (the same colors in Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag) celebrating the diverse LGBTQ+ communities and symbolizing hope and peace. Beamed high above Palm Canyon Drive at Amado Road, as far as the eye can see, until finally diminishing to a colorful glow over South Palm Canyon.  

Hitting the stage on November 5:

5:30 p.m. — Charles Herrera 

6 p.m. — Steven Michael’s Dance Machine, dancers, flaggers, drag

6:15 p.m. — Jason Stuart

6:30 p.m. — Shannon 

7:15 p.m. — Sassy Ross

7:30 p.m. — Jeanie Tracy

8 p.m. — Jody Watley

8:45 p.m. — The Perry Twins

The unadulterated joy and magic the Palm Springs LGBTQ+ community brings to our little town is unparalleled. That’s right, I said it: unparalleled.

Not gay? No one cares, we are a mecca for all who want to be included…unless you’re homophobic, then according to the website Abodo, you should vacation in Buffalo, New York.

See you at Pride!