Though most of us can’t physically travel right now, there’s still a wonderful world out there for us to explore together. Traveling In Quarantine spotlights people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities… and in the process expand our Traveling IQ.
Traveling In Quarantine: Drew Droege in Palm Springs
Good evening, America. It’s recently come to my attention that Drew Droege loves Palm Springs.
For his viral hilarity, he’s been featured in Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Advocate, the Out 100 list and now, the ultimate indicator of his cultural icon status, Traveling IQ.
An alum of The Groundlings Theatre, Drew has appeared on TV shows such as “Search Party,” “Heathers,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Drunk History,” “Life in Pieces,” and “Transparent.” He’s written for Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and “AJ and The Queen,” starring RuPaul.
Drew has also written and performed five solo shows including Bright Colors And Bold Patterns (directed by Michael Urie) which is set in one of Drew’s favorite gay travel destinations, Palm Springs. He went on to win the Outstanding Performance Award at Outfest 2018 for his work in the BroadwayHD capture of this show.
Earlier this year, Happy Birthday Doug (his latest solo show) premiered Off-Broadway and will be returning to New York this summer for a much-needed, post-pandemic infusion of humor.
Traveling In Quarantine interviews Drew Droege and together we explore Palm Springs, California:
IQ: Tell us a little about your background and acting career:
Drew: I’ve been doing theatre since high school and college in North Carolina and moved out to L.A. about 20 years ago, not really sure what I wanted to do. At the time, I didn’t know anyone who really had a career as a performer. I always thought of myself as a musical theatre actor who couldn’t sing or dance, so I should probably do sketch comedy. I had heard about The Groundlings, and some of my favorite comedic actors had come out of there, so I signed up for improv classes–I was terrible and it was terrifying, but I was hooked. After several years in their program, I started performing there, which led to guest spots on TV shows, movies, and other theatre around LA. I also learned how to write and create my own material, which helped me have a presence online. And I’ve done a handful of solo shows over the years, including Bright Colors And Bold Patterns (streaming on BroadwayHD) and Happy Birthday Doug.
How did the inspiration for Chloe came about?
In 2002, a few friends and I formed a gay comedy troupe called The Deviants. In one of the sketches, I was cast as a weird horny teenage girl in a blonde wig. I looked in the mirror and realized I looked a lot like Chloe Sevigny. Then I read an interview with her in which she name-checked so many deliciously specific references, and I was instantly hooked. I used to play her from time to time on stage, but when Jim Hansen turned them into videos, that’s when it really became a hit.
Have you ever met the real-life Chloe and, if so, what was that experience like?
I did meet her years ago, right when the videos first surfaced. She was beyond cool, and I was beyond awkward, mainly because I hadn’t ever considered what I would say to her if we ever met.
What are three things you’d like readers to know about you:
I love lemons but they ruin two of my favorite things, whiskey and iced tea. I unironically adore Fast and Furious movies, PF Changs, and Hanson. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship and think I’m maybe finally ready for one.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Lincolnton, North Carolina and now live in Los Angeles, California.
Describe your featured destination–Palm Springs:
Just about two hours east of filthy, thirsty, strident Los Angeles lies a quaint-n-quiet lil hot spot called Palm Springs. It’s often boiling hot but also aggressively chill. There’s very little to do, other than sip rosé poolside or amble along a one-way street downtown in search of ice cream or antiques. The air is palpably calm, there is a mountain view from practically every address, and no one cares about your projects.
What made you fall in love with Palm Springs?
About ten years ago, I started going with a group of guys every year for New Years. It has become the perfect vacation from our holiday times with families, from our busy/disconnected lives the year before, and a necessary re-set for the year to come.
What makes Palm Springs a place for LGBTQ travelers?
I believe it’s the only place, at least in the U.S., that has more LGBTQ people than not. At least it feels that way.
What are three spots that you love in Palm Springs and why?
Toucans Tiki Lounge is an essential watering hole – it’s revolutionary in its reverence to retro. The Ace Hotel is a gorgeous reenactment of that classic mid-century modern aesthetic – plus the cafe is INCREDIBLE for brunch. And for really terrific dining, check out Workshop and order the menu.
Your one-man show Bright Colors And Bold Patterns was set in Palm Springs. Why did you choose that destination and how did the city inspire the show?
Well, I guess it’s fair to say that it chose me. I was invited to a straight friend’s wedding in Palm Springs, and on the invitation they requested that the guests not wear bright colors or bold patterns. The bride really wanted a simple desert palate for the photos, but the phrase first inspired me as a title. On the way down there, I imagined a play with a group of gay friends at a house in Palm Springs on the night before a wedding, nervous if their clothes would be too bright or bold. Then a few months later, gay marriage became legalized and while that was obviously a wonderful thing, I saw us immediately jumping into heteronormative patterns and leaving behind much of our queerness. So, I imagined the wedding in my play to be a gay wedding asking guests to essentially scrub away their bright colors and bold patterns. And I played a very opinionated gay who vehemently disagreed! But Palm Springs is the perfect location to me, not just because lots of gays visit and live there, but because everyone seems to shed the armor of the big cities and allow their truths to come out. Alcohol also helps.
If Coronavirus is magically cured overnight and quarantine ends abruptly, where will you choose to celebrate?
Find me with a handful of friends, eating some sort of sweet fried trash dish at the Tropicale in Palm Springs, listening to and laughing at lavish tales from old queens, and trying to pretend that everyone in the place isn’t someone I know from L.A.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to Quarantine, where would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted to visit the Mediterranean, and I hope I can see it all one day. Obviously, it is especially hit during this crisis, and my heart goes out to them.
What is coming up for you now?
You can stream Drew’s award-winning Bright Colors And Bold Patterns on BroadwayHD.
- FOLLOW Drew Droege on Instagram and Twitter
- VIEW all his Chloë Sevigny videos on YouTube
- BUY TICKETS for his next show, Happy Birthday Doug
Follow the Traveling IQ (In Quarantine) series, highlighting people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities.