The Palm Springs Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence greeted 725 guests as they entered the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel for the fourth annual Queen of the Desert competition.
The event raised more than $40,000 for Desert AIDS Project, but beyond fundraising this fun-filled, talent-heavy soirée paraded a sense of intersectional togetherness and positivity. An international organization, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence celebrates the global LGBTQ community through social activism and service. Each chapter supports nonprofit and neighborhood causes; locally, the Sisters (known also as “the irreverent jewels of the desert”) work with valley AIDS organizations, LGBTQ support groups, and animal rights organizations.
Ethylina Canne, aka Jeffrey Ewell, a Palm Springs resident who earned the 2017 title of “Best in Drag” at a major fundraising competition and show in Los Angeles, served as the evening’s emcee and opened the show with a mash-up of “Sunset Boulevard” and Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” Her custom-designed costumes and affably elegant demeanor held the event together … along with plenty of heavy-duty eyelash glue.
The charming Bryan Wanzek, a frequent guest at local charitable events, known about town as Bella da Ball, maintained the evening’s pace.
Six contestants raised funds to partake in the competition, which was judged in three fashionable and entertaining segments: resort and swimwear, lip-syncs, and evening gowns.
Fan Favorite winner Mayhem Miller brought high energy to the Broadway tune “And I Am Telling You”; Bellonce Aguilera belted out Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”; and Vanity Halston reimagined Madonna’s 1990 MTV performance of the classic “Vanity,” which went on to secure her win for Best Performance as well as Queen of the Desert 2017. Arial Trampway won Best Gown and pulled out all the stops with four back-up dancers and giant pink folding fans. Her performance of “I Am What I Am” served as the perfect anthem for the evening; her dancers emboldened the message, holding high signs scrawled with positive affirmations. PS Lola won Best Swimsuit and dazzled the judges with her unique costumes while Crystal Champagne won Miss Congeniality after enticing audience members to join her for an impromptu conga line.
Celebrity judges included Ruta Lee, Joey English, Brad Fuhr, Shann Carr, Dottie DuBois, and Maude Chapeau of Dames Soleil.
Desert AIDS Project
1695 N. Sunrise Way
Palm Springs 92262
Photography by Dimitri Halkidis