INCLUDE OUR CRITICS
In 1999 I was elected president of the Pride board and invited Sean Newman - an outspoken skeptic of past festivals & parades - to serve as one of my vice presidents. The critics
finally had a place at the table to plan and organize that year's celebration. It was decided to have Arenas Road feature our corporate sponsors and a dance arena with the festival on the lot next to the Marquis Villas containing: vendors; game booths;
main stage; food court; and beer garden. Overseeing the layout of the festival grounds was a design team that planned and executed the concepts as they were finalized - adding flare and fairy dust to the '99 celebration. Construction and preparation
of the scenic props was done in a design center that Bill and I donated to Pride. Jack Schloeder became president in 2000 and oversaw the change of venue to the Palm Springs stadium - what follows is the editorial that ran in the June 16, 2000 issue
answering the growing concerns of the gay community regarding the change of the festival site from the downtown area.
SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL
Pride celebrations are, by their very nature, unifying and energizing events. They offer a time when we as a community, actively work together promoting the spirit of harmony, acceptance and understanding. That's how Prides are supposed to work.
As immediate past president of the Greater Palm Springs Pride and, currently serving on the board, I am painfully aware of the controversy surrounding this year's event. The move of the festival site from the Arenas Road area to the Palm Springs stadium placed me in the unique position to be able to argue both sides.
FACT: Last year's Pride Board spent December '98 to June '99 arguing about where the festival should be located. Reviewed sites included: Arenas Road; the Palm Springs Convention Center; Ruth Hardy Park; Francis Stevens Park; and Museum Drive. With Melinda Tremaglio's departure from the Pride Board, the directors and officers set the wheels in motion and presented a highly successful festival and parade. The Arenas Road/Marquis gardens location was ideal because of the high concentration of gay businesses and residents in the area. Critics believed that the move from the "streetfair" atmosphere of Arenas to the "festival village" at the Marquis, was a bad decision. We proved the critics wrong.
FACT: The Marquis Resort rented the lot last year to Pride for $5,000. Another $2,800 was spent by Pride to install additional gates onto the grounds. Marquis representatives, aware of their limited Pride sponsorship, have graciously offered the same rental agreement this year.
FACT: The Palm Springs stadium is fitted with two beverages service stations, a large number of restrooms, seating and electricity. Parking is ample and the park surrounding the stadium features shaded areas. The rental for the stadium is $440 per day. The rental of generators, light towers and comfort stations would be greatly reduced.
FACT: The stadium has enough room for our Pride Festival to grow and double in size from last year's festival site, which was filled to overflowing. Pride '99 was understaffed with volunteers. We had over 300 people sign-up but only a third actually helped with the festival. Limiting access and egress to the grounds and a number of other sacrifices were made due to the lack of volunteers, community cooperation and support. The city owned stadium features trash and latrine services and is much easier to secure at night. Besides, the facility offers a wonderful setting just yearning to be fluffed.
FACT: There are thirteen members on the Pride Board. We were presented details on the financial status our festival could realize at various locations. Three locations were reviewed: the Convention Center, Arenas Road area and the stadium. The Convention Center would be too expensive and prohibitive. Arenas Road/Marquis gardens would be costly but Jack Schloeder, Pride president, was unable to procure an agreement of notification with the Marquis on any changes to the lot before the November event (the concrete dance floor that was installed for the White Party represents a loss of 30 vendor spaces). The vote was unanimous to change location. Contrary to rumor, I did not choreograph the festival site move. I am only one vote.
FACT: We make our own reality . . . suffering is optional!
During this time we had the publication up for
sale and in September of 2000 closed escrow with the new owners. Earlier that year, Michael Portantino, a San Diego gay publisher made an offer that we didn't accept - and the drama entered the Kabuki stage of theatrics. He believed that by hiring
away our assistant editor and art director to publish a competing magazine in the desert, The Bottom Line would cease publishing. Little did he know that I had been honing my computer skills over the years and could do without any assistance
if need be. With their first edition we discovered that they pirated our classified ads, desert map and printing display ads that were not ordered. It was a nasty and mean-spirited ordeal . . . I tendered my resignation to the Pride Board rather
than have them suffer more phone calls from the irate publisher. I was not going to allow him to tear apart the community Bill and I helped create. He planned to include the Pride board members in his lawsuit hoping to make me the villain. In
fact, I stepped away from the gay community because my involvement was a point of contention that extended from the new owners. For the next three years Bill and I enjoyed the peace and quiet that retirement offered until I tired of watching the paint
dry and attended a job fair in 2003 where I met with representatives of the Palm Springs Follies. My search for employment before I happened upon the Follies was fruitless & frustrating. One reject letter
from the local Aids Project HR office was judgmental when they informed me that my skills & background did not fit well with the duties of their thrift store assistant manager. Whatever does he or she do? Later, I was informed by a
DAP employee that it is standard practice for them to maintain a list of people blackballed for any number of reasons. I especially was offended when I recalled during the early years of the project - we ran all their ads complimentary - and were their
biggest supporters & defenders from day one. For the next eleven years the Follies people became my extended family and helped me through personal family tragedies and difficulties.
The sale of the publications came at an opportune time - both The Bottom Line & PULP
were successful - competing with a number of other gay magazines that would last a few months and then close shop - left were MEGA-Scene, Desert Daily Guide, & Star. Overhead was low since my duties included: story assignments,
photo shoots, copy input, ad design & lay-out - pre-press work was shared with assistant editor, Jamie. But, I was beginning to realize that the growth and size of the community would not allow me to cover everything - be everywhere from Palm Springs
to Indio as we did for so many years when it was a much smaller community. As the self-assigned photographer for 95% of the shoots, I sacrificed my personal life and private time in the name of the business and its survival. Some of our advertisers
would count the number of photos in each edition and voice their complaint if another bar had more than they did - "You can't please everyone all the time!" The Bottom Line absence from any event was duly noted and reported. The new owners
would be able to address that growth as they restructured the magazine and hired new graphic designers and editors - they would be able to take it to the next level.
When Jamie announced her leaving for the editorship of the new publication, I wished her well. She had been like a student to me and I confided that her leaving reminded me of graduation day. The San Diego publisher had offered a salary increase we couldn't match and friendship just goes so far when it comes to financial affairs. We had weathered many storms together and would be each other's sounding board - I grew to miss her sisterly advice and creative imaginative aura she radiated.
Lawsuits and counter lawsuits between the publishers waged furiously and lasted five years after the sale of TBL & demise of his desert publication. The judge finally ended the proceedings with a judgment in our favor and noted the cavalier attitude of the losing party regarding his absence from a number of court ordered appearances. Our lawyers had warned us that he would extend legal wrangling as long and as costly as possible in order to extract revenge - to him, money was no object. Karma came around in December 2010 when Portantino stepped off a seven story Park Manor Hotel in San Diego and ended his publishing career. I personally thought the man to be charming - charming but devious.