New Kids on the Block
PSST! - How two newly minted modernists are entertaining the desert.
Soap opera diva Bobbie Eakes and character actor David Steen have gone modernist in a classic William Krisel-designed house in Palm Springs.
J. EVERETTE PERRY
Scene-stealing character actor David Steen and soap opera diva Bobbie Eakes are no strangers to transformation. Head-over-heels in love with each other and their newly renovated Alexander house, the couple from New York says they were “lucky” when they found the midcentury modern enclave of Vista Las Palmas in Palm Springs.
Did you know you were buying a William Krisel-designed house?
Bobbie: Although we knew we loved the style of the architecture, David and I didn’t know as much about the different architects of the era. Then we read everything we could about them. I even signed up for a Modernism event that enabled me to meet Mr. Krisel. He was so pleased to know that we were taking the house back to its original design.
What are your favorite features of the home and the neighborhood?
Bobbie: The home has the element of indoor/outdoor living, so we opened up the back of the house even further with a series of stacking sliding doors. That makes the home feel much larger, and makes it great for entertaining. Our neighborhood is, in my humble opinion, the jewel in the crown of the Alexander developments. We love all the fabulous William Krisel and Charles Dubois designs, and we adore its rich celebrity lore. Elvis and Priscilla honeymooned a couple of blocks away. Peter Lawford lived nearby, and word is that President Kennedy, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra cavorted in his pool!
How else are you embracing the desert?
Bobbie: Community involvement — which actually began before we knew we wanted to move here. We were living in New York City when our decorator asked if we would participate in a charity event called Celebrity Doodles for Desert AIDS Project. He knew that I liked to paint and introduced us to Peter Demopoulos, who has included us in fundraisers ever since. Once we moved here, we continued to work with DAP and other charities like Family Equality Council.
You were in an ’80s all-girl rock band and are now returning to the stage?
Bobbie: Yes! I was signed to Epic Records with an all girl-band called Big Trouble. Grammy Award-winner Giorgio Moroder produced our first and only record. We were really good! It’s funny how things come full circle. I’m now focusing on my singing career again, doing musical theater and cabaret. I had a ball playing Velma Von Tussle at Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Hairspray, and I am currently putting most of my energy into my own sort of music revue that is debuting at the Annenberg Theater on Nov. 8, launching the national tour.
What can we expect at the Annenberg show?
Bobbie: The show is going to be a retrospective of my career in entertainment. I have been working closely with producer Dave Morgan, who also works with a dear friend and colleague, Emmy winner Leslie Jordan (Sordid Lives, Will and Grace). It’s our hometown, so we don’t want to disappoint! Speaking of Leslie Jordan, he and I have completed a new Del Shores film, Southern Baptist Sissies. So look for it this year in theaters.
David, how did you like working with Quentin Tarantino?
David: It would be hard to find someone who is more excited about the craft than Quentin. If you try and stump him naming the most obscure film you can think of, he’s already seen it a dozen times. When I read Django, it was the first time I’ve ever finished a script and went right back to page one to re-read it again. It was that good. Plus, he creates a festive atmosphere on his sets, including having really cool music blaring out between each shot. He makes it a really good time.
Living in the desert full time, do you miss the Hollywood scene?
David: No, there’s always something fun going on in Palm Springs that is void of the pretension that runs rampant in Hollywood. Plus, there are loads of talented people who have escaped from the rat race and ended up here. Most of us schlep back to L.A. for meetings and auditions, but there’s nothing like the feeling when you take the 111 exit back into the heart of Palm Springs. I call it the decompression highway. Plus, I am working here with some talented people, developing several projects we plan to shoot right in the desert.
David: One of our biggest professional goals is to bring more television and film production to the area. We know a lot of people with that common intent and it’s exciting to be part of that objective.