Mid-Century Mecca

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Travel back in time to relax and learn about Hollywood’s gay history.

If you love the mid-century modern homes popping up around South Austin as well as the fabulous vintage stores lining South First and the revival of the cocktail, then a weekend in Palm Springs (California) will help you complete your travel back in time.

With its close proximity to Hollywood, Palm Springs rose in popularity in the 1920s as an escape to the constant sunshine and desert temperatures. This influx of fame and money gave rise to arguably the densest display of inventive and innovative designs by renowned modernist architects who began experimenting with the mix of steel, glass and open floor plans.

There are many reasons to head to Palm Springs, ranging from the crowds (the White Party is the largest dance music festival, attracting more than 30,000 on Easter weekend) to the more subdued (Modernism Week, held in February, is filled with tours, films, lectures and parties to raise money for college scholarships dedicated to continuing these designs).

We are lucky to have dear friends, Bill and Dean, who act as guides and hosts for our visits. Mornings always start off with the locals at The Corridor. This specialty shopping center has a divine courtyard that is dog friendly and morning cruise worthy. Grab a coffee and a freshly baked treat at Koffi and head outside to chat with locals and visitors alike.

Only a few doors down, Just Fabulous is a gay man’s answer to what Hallmark could and should be. Greeting cards that you don’t have to awkwardly adjust the pronouns to make them apply and gifts and books that will make you a hero when you return home. Be sure to check the calendar before you head over as you just might be able to time your trip around a celebrity book signing—this year alone has included Barbara Eden, Frank DeCaro, Anne Rice and Barbara Sinatra.

After a hike through the hills or a bike ride through the town, hop over to Escena Golf Club and benefit from the California housing decline. Yes, for you, there is a silver lining to the housing troubles. Originally planned as a private community, Escena is now the most beautiful Jack Nicklaus–designed public golf course around. And you don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the views or the food in this mid-century modern masterpiece. There are very few views more stunning than brunching outdoors overlooking lush greens encircled by high desert mountains. Mimosas, anyone?

If you were a fan of Bravo’s Welcome to The Parker, be sure to flip over to L Retreat for a complete review of the property. If you want to enjoy the grounds without the expense of a stay, treat yourself to spa services at PSYC…yes, Palm Springs Yacht Club, the spa is also designed by Jonathan Adler. A predeparture cocktail of cucumber vodka and the choice of an accompanying soundtrack enhance your custom-tailored massage. You can have the massage of your life and leave the crickets, waterfalls, Tibetan bowls and Yanni far behind. The bonus to these decadent spa services is that it gives you access to the entire facility—including salt-water pool with lounge chairs and iPads, gym, steam room and dry sauna.

Now, off to dinner at Cary Grant’s former estate-turned-fine-dining restaurant, Copley’s on Palm Canyon. Though Grant is long gone, the rumors still swirl surrounding his sexuality and longtime relationship with Randolph Scott. Grant and Scott met on the set of the aptly named, Hot Saturday, which ignited a very public and longstanding “friendship” that including living together for nearly 12 years. As you roam throughout the grounds and dine on the lawn, you can quickly envision the stars who shaped the region and the care that is given to preserve this desert gem.

 


Story by Lynn Yeldell
Photos by Lynn Yeldell
L Style G Style – Storyteller of the Austin LBGT Community.
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