A Sordid Love Affair

By Michael Westman

Del-Shores-400 copyDel Shores is a masterful Writer, Director, Producer, Actor, and Stand-Up Comedian. On top of that, he is a wonderful and generous soul. His ongoing love affair with Palm Springs has included sold-out performances, charitable work, a star on the Palm Spring Walk of Stars, and this year he is the Grand Marshal of the Palm Springs Pride Parade.

The film Sordid Lives holds the record for the longest running film in the history of Palm Springs with a record ninety-six weeks. His play Sordid Lives had six sold out productions at the Palm Canyon Theatre, 11 sold out shows at the Annenberg Theatre and 12 sold out stand-up comedy shows. Southern Baptist Sissies was the opening night film and Audience Award Winner for Cinema Diverse, the LGBT Film Festival, in 2013.

Shores just completed filming for the final chapter of his Sordid Lives franchise – A Very Sordid Wedding.  GED Magazine caught up with Shores during editing of the new film, to talk about the project and his love affair with Palm Springs.

“I am editing right now and we are planning on an exclusive Grand Opening at the Camelot Theater in Cathedral City, hopefully in February 2017. Things are going very well, and I think the fans are really going to love it,” says Shores. The film stars many of the Sordid veterans including Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan, Caroline Rhea, Kirk Geiger, Newell and Rosemary Alexander, Dale Dickey and Ann Walker, with cameos by Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Mapa and Carole Cook. Shores continues, “I am so happy that were able to do another film, with the backing of so many people… it takes a really big village.”

And the Palm Springs connection is real… Shores tells me that several Sordid Lives actors now live in the Coachella Valley – Kirk Geiger (Ty); Bonnie Bedelia (Latrelle) and her real life husband Michael MacRae (Wilson), who plays her ex-husband in the film, having married a trashy younger woman; and David Steen (G.W.) who is a regular at The Purple Room. Shores interjects, “…and the Director loves to go to Palm Springs to be adored.”

The whole rollercoaster ride of Sordid Lives is 20 years old, and started as Shores’ fourth play which premiered in Los Angeles in May of 1996. The play ran for 13 sold-out months and went on to win 14 Drama-Logue Theatre Awards, including three for Shores for wring, directing and producing. Since then, there have been over 300 additional stage productions of the play. The film version Sordid Lives was filmed in 1999, with the opening in 2000-2001. Shores wrote and directed it, and it starred Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan and Beth Grant along with most of the cast from the play.  Opening in only eight theatres across the country, the little film that could took in nearly two million dollars in its limited release, and garnered ‘cult phenomenon’ status.

Sordid Lives the Series came about in 2008, and Shores says “creatively it was a good experience but business wise it left a bad taste in our mouths because of problems with the Producer and the lawsuits, so it took me awhile to return to the franchise. But the wonderful thing is that the fans never went away… they always kept saying ‘we want another one, we want more stories.”  Shores continues, “With all the changes and evolution of LGBT rights since 1996, I just started thinking maybe I do have another story if I bring all of the characters into the ‘now.’ I asked myself ‘what happens when equality comes rushing into Winters Texas?” After a few phone calls to the Runnels County Courthouse, Shores did what he does best – put a comedy spin on reality. Shore describes the movie as an anti-equality revival… funny, yet real, with some poignant moments.

A nice love affair with PS exists – Shores has a star on the PS Walk of Fame and has a key to the City.  A fan once cleaned his star and posted a photo of it, and now it has become a real “thing” where folks go to dust-off his star and post photos of it. Shores finds it hysterical and loves it at the same time.  “Palm Springs has been so good me and the entire Sordid Lives cast, the affair is a very mutual love affair.” Shores say jokingly, “Anytime I need a dose of self-esteem, I just grab Ann Walker, tell her to put on that yellow blouse, and we walk down Palm Canyon Drive…. It’s all about liquor and adoration.” [Laughs.]

Del-Shores-600What is coming up for Shores? While Shores has slowed down on his stand-up comedy appearances, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love trash talking with a microphone or that he isn’t busy.  Shores is focused on editing A Very Sordid Wedding, and is also working on a new TV project.  Shores tells me, “As much as I love stand-up, there is something about writing and directing that feeds my soul like nothing else does… A Very Sordid Wedding was a big inspiration. For a time, I was mad at TV and decided to stay away from it for awhile and hit the road.” Shores has some national appearance coming up, including speaking at the World AIDS Conference in Jacksonville, Florida in December.

I asked Shores my signature question, “Everyone has a hidden talent. What is yours?” He responded with a dilly of a talent. Shores’ response? “I can twirl a baton… now I’m not real good at catching it – it usually falls on somebody’s head. [Laughs.]  My Aunt Reta, who I based LaVonda on, she was a baton twirling champion. When I was little, I would go to visit her and she would teach me how to twirl baton.” Join us on the Sordid Lives Team walking in Desert AIDS Walk and you may even get to witness a little of this hidden talent!

The Sordid Lives folks are high profile in the desert this month, with many chances to see them and help support various causes. On Friday, October 21st, Del Shores, Ann Walker, Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, and other cast members from the movie will be appearing at the Purple Room in A Very Sordid Variety Show. The evening of comedy, songs and performances will benefit Palm Springs Pride. Check with www.purpleroompalmsprings.com for ticket availability.

On Saturday, October 22nd the Sordid Lives Team will be walking in Desert AIDS Walk 2016, supporting Desert AIDS Project. Visit http://tinyurl.com/hsq55uc to make a donation to or join the Sordid Lives team and help bring about an end to HIV/AIDS.

On November 6th, Shores will be the Grand Marshal for the Palm Springs Pride Parade. Shores says “Anytime I can ride in a car and wave, I love it. I couldn’t be Prom Queen or Homecoming Queen… this is the next best thing.” Shores continues, “The fact that they have honored me is very humbling… I have such an affinity for Palm Springs. And, I love that Pride is free, so nobody gets shut out.”

Shores is also doing a European River Cruise next year (August 6-13, 2017), where you can celebrate Pride weekend in Amsterdam & continue the party downriver into Switzerland.  For more information, visit www.rhinedevoux.com.

To keep up with all the fun in Del Shores’ life, follow him on Facebook @delshoresfanclub and on Twitter and Instagram @DelShores.

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