Wanderlust: Palm Springs

Jay Michael in Palm Springs

You’d think that a 32 year old gay Jew like myself would have been to Palm Springs a million times by now, right? Wrong, this was my first ever trip to what turned out-to-be, a sort of gay mecca in the desert.


My trip was focused around a New Years Eve event. I went in tandem with my gay bestie (Rick) and for good measure we rented a red Camaro convertible…they were all out of vintage restored Jaguars.


The first thing I noticed was that the airport was nearly 100% outdoors – totally lush and beautiful…imagine hundreds of overly precious gay men with custom monogrammed Goyard bags, small white dogs in tote, suede drivers, and perfectly pressed uniforms of designer labels –almost like they pressed their outfits in the airplane lavatory pre-landing. And there I am, rolling in like a schlep in my Chicago sweats and FLATS t-shirt. They were totally judging me, but I owned it all the way to my shiny red Camaro!


Once we arrived at The Parker, the story seemed very much the same but perhaps a bit more fancy and with a serving of The Urban-Yuppie-Hipster mixed in. The lines of gay and straight are VERY gray in Palm Springs…I wasn’t sure of anyone being totally straight; my kinda place. We checked into our room, decked out in a ton of retro-glam Johnathan Adler pieces…it’s almost like moving into one of his stores, which all plays into the Palm Springs experience. Sliding glass doors opened to the idyllic pool and as far as I was concerned, we were in a sort of warm, gay paradise. My only words of warning are; The Parker, and all of Palm Springs for that matter, is focused around form and not function…expect little to no good service and you may (only may) be surprised.


We didn’t have much time to explore as the next day was New Years Eve where we were reserved for a dinner at the once famous, now more notorious and kitschy, Melvyn’s. Thankfully I met The Melvyn Himself. Imagine your Jewish grandmothers 60’s ranch home with mirrors, chandeliers, silk flowers and plastic on the seating add a dash of elegance and aged glory and you have arrived at The Melvyn’s Palm Springs…I am glad I went. My favorite part of the evening was when a perfectly dressed woman in her late 80’s/early 90’s asked me, in advance, for a kiss at New Years….she was rocking the dance floor like she was half her age, and I, of course, obliged.


We spent the next few days of the trip walking and hiking throughout the areas surrounding Palm Springs and I was absolutely awestruck by the sheer beauty of the desert. The weather was perfect and the terrain was just rugged enough to make it rewarding. Every few miles or so you would find an untouched motel that you’d expect to see in a ‘road-trip’ film like Thelma and Louise; with a new Starbucks anchored strip mall proudly next door.

We made our way to one of the most beautiful private residences I have ever seen. It was part of a small cluster of early 60’s homes on a mountain with the likes of Bob Hope whose home is on the market in early 100 million range. We spent the rest of that afternoon sipping drinks in the infinity pool facing the beautiful valley below. I was in love.


I know that I will be spending more time in Palm Springs in the coming years…who knows, I may even find myself restoring one of those 60’s road-side motels. The idea of going back hasn’t escaped my mind since the second I landed here in freezing Chicago.

Jay Michael collage in Palm Springs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *