Our friend, fashion idol and philosophical guru Linda Gerard serenades devoted fans every Monday night at Sissy Bingo at Ace Palm Springs — a storied songstress of Broadway and Follies fame, she also peppers random lunches and dinners at King’s Highway with show-stopping belters, raising her bejeweled hands to the sky as she slays the final notes of Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart to thundering applause, having, each time, gained a couple dozen new groupies.
Recently, we were shaken by the news that Linda is in the process of kicking cancer’s ass. She was diagnosed earlier this year and is currently in the process of treatment and recovery. We love her dearly and would bend over backward to help and support her. This Monday, join us and her massive posse of friends, family and fans in the Commune for a festival of positivity, love and posse-rallying, with DJ Day, Alf Alpha, Giselle Woo, JP Houston and others. Donations at the door enter you to a raffle with damn good prizes, and proceeds from drinks go toward Linda and all rooms booked for that night at Ace with code FABULOUS are not only 25% off but go toward Linda’s support fund as well. See more about the event on our calendar.
Find here part two of three chapters of DJ Day’s interview with Linda about life, love and Lawrence Welk. DJ Day’s ridiculously great new record Land of 1000 Chances is up on our shop, as is Linda’s Fabulous Selections — which we released recently — and, you guessed it, proceeds from her record and our Sissy Bingo shirt go toward Linda as well.
Read on, show the love and stay tuned for chapter three, forthcoming soon.
Talk about the Rose Tattoo time…
What happened was, when my girlfriend broke up with me in ‘87, I needed a new beginning. I bought the Rose Tattoo in ‘88.
This was in West Hollywood and obviously huge at the time. I mean, Barry Manilow?
They all came. They all came to the Rose Tattoo and it was very, very exciting.
How big of a place was it?
The cabaret held maybe 80 people. The restaurant was a table club and it was very, very chic, a very high times experience too for those times and did very well. Sometimes I even had entertainers perform in the restaurant, but most of the time people wanted to perform in the cabaret because that was the hot place to be. Then there was a piano bar that sat maybe another 100.
Have you got any crazy stories that stand out from that time?
I still get calls from people that say, “When are you going to open another club, because we loved working for you.” I have old calendars that I gave to Ace that had all these celebrities. Wonderful stars, people that were on their way up. Ellen DeGeneres came in one night before she became really, really famous. But they all came in. It was unbelievable. It was the place to be.
It sounds like it — it’s got quite a reputation.
Agents would come, managers, just to spot talent. I would always open all the shows. I was the emcee, I would sing a couple of numbers and then bring up the talent.
This ran from about ‘88 until…
'88 to '93, and I said, you know, I can't do it anymore. I've got to go, I can't do it. I turned gray. I really became gray and it was a time … also the AIDS thing. It was… we were doing an AIDS benefit every Sunday because so many people were dying and I would be calling parents who didn’t know their sons were gay, to say, “You need to come down here and be with your son who is not well. He has AIDS.” And I became everybody’s mother, because parents in those days would disown their sons if they were gay. And I tried to bring it together and it was just very hard for me after a while. I couldn’t do it anymore.
I gave The Rose Tattoo back to the landlord. I said, “Here, take it,” and I came here [to Palm Springs] in ‘93 and settled into getting a job.
What brought you here in particular?
I had an offer for a job that fell through, and then I was in the Follies for a couple years and was also Director of Entertainment, and I ran a restaurant for ten years but then got tired of that because I worked 6pm to 2am. I said, “You’ve got to give me less to do, and less nights to work.” They said they couldn’t and I said, “See you,” and I came to Ace Hotel & Swim Club and they had a job fair. I didn’t even know what a job fair was, but I read it in the paper. It said, “Bring your résumé.” I brought my résumé: did Funny Girl, did this, did that, thinking a résumé meant my entertainment background but they wanted my restaurant background. They hired me and that’s when they found out that I also sang. One night I sang in the restaurant and they said, “Oh, yeah, we like that.” And here I am and I’m loving it, and life is good.
That’s awesome. You’re a perfect fit for here, because it’s just like you both get each other, and it works.
…and they love me.
Yeah, who doesn’t?
So Jason Dibler [the General Manager at Ace] was the one that said, “You have albums? You have records?” I said, “Yeah, I have tapes of me doing shows too.” He said, “Oh, you do?” I said, “Yeah, but they’re on a box tape, yeah.”
Videos of live shows?
Videos of live shows. Like my Follies, I have that and I did a musical chairs. I did a show in Escondido for Lawrence Welk and I have that tape. I’d have to look for them all, but there all these tapes. I did a one-woman show here in Palm Springs for about a year, I have tapes of that. I was the choreographer. I did everything because I wanted to get back in the business so I said, “Well then, hello, I’ll write my own show,” and I did.
I performed it in all the assisted-living places and they loved it and then at the Starbuck Theatre or something. It was really nice and then I started booking myself all over Southern California doing this one-woman show. Then I got tired of doing that.
I get bored.
I want to do new things. That’s about my history. Do you get tired of doing things?
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
And then you have to do new things.
You need some challenge or something new.
That’s why this is so much fun, because I sing a cappella, walk around and they go, “My God, it’s that woman singing,” like they picked up some crazy woman, which I am, but they love it.
Oh, yeah. I’ve walked by and heard you going off and everybody is just rapt with attention.
Oh, yeah. They’re like, “What?”
You get a lot of press and celebration for your voice and your glasses and your incredible style.
I have to wear glasses because I don’t see, so I got bored with just wearing one pair of glasses, and I decided to start wearing glasses that match my outfit. I have 20 pairs of glasses. That’s how I originally got on Deal or No Deal, because she saw me a couple days and each day I had different glasses. I love big glasses, great big glasses. Then people started giving me glasses. “Here, we don’t wear this anymore, take it.” So I have glasses that I haven’t even put my prescription in yet, but people just hand to me, which is fun. I got a pair of Cazals that way.
I got a pair of Lapidus from France. I got … Oh. My. God. What kinds of glasses do people just give me? That’s the story with the glasses, but I perform with them on because I can’t see with them off.
Now sometimes I’ll do a big show in town and they don’t want me to wear the glasses, but someone will have to walk me to the microphone, and then as soon as the spot light goes off, somebody has to grab me and take me off the stage, yeah.
So it was the glasses that got you on Deal or No Deal.
And I won $165,000. [Ed. note: please check out Linda’s facial expression here.]
Amazing. I heard you donated a lot of that.
I gave a lot to the shelter. And my kids, of course. I’ve got to take care of the kids.
You have twins.
Yes. In those days, they didn’t have those things that they could tell if you’re having two babies, so I had them in seven months and I didn’t know till then that I had two. What a shock that was: “Hello, you have twins.” "I do? Oh, okay," and they’re identical. They are actually mirror-twins which means that when they look at each other … one’s hair parts on the right, one’s a lefty, one is a righty, everything is just opposite and they look and they sound exactly alike.
When they call me I have to wait till they say a few sentences before I say which, “Hi Jennie, Hi Cindy,” because if I call them the wrong name they really get upset. They’re 48 years old but they still get upset, they still call me mommy, which is kind of cute.
I’ve heard you used to be an acting coach.
I did. When I was in New York, between jobs sometimes I taught acting. I also taught singing. There was a school that opened and they were looking for teachers that could teach modeling or something like that, and I went, “Oh, that will be fun.” I went there, they hired me right away. And I started teaching acting and teaching kids how to do commercials, how you look right into the camera. Don’t look up, don’t look down, look into the camera because that’s who’s watching you, and never say “chu.” If you have a phrase like “about you,” a lot of people would say “about chu.” Well there’s no such word as “chu.”