For decades, Michael Holmes has toured the globe as a cabaret singer and celebrity impersonator, sharing the stage with an impressive list of entertainers, including Sam Harris, Sting, and Elton John.
The Judy Show is a hysterical re-creation of the original Judy Garland Show, wherein Holmes takes the role of Garland and many of her legendary guests at the Purple Room Restaurant & Stage in Palm Springs. There, Holmes also performs out of drag with the jazz ensemble the Michael Holmes Trio every Wednesday.
In addition to your impersonations of many classic Hollywood stars, you’ve added another very different role to your roster at the Purple Room.
That’s correct; I’m one of the owners, along with Tony Marchese; many people are familiar with the wonderful work he has done with Trio. It is truly one of the best establishments in the desert.
Is this change new for you?
Not at all. Growing up my family owned a popular suburban Chicago restaurant and lounge with live entertainment seven nights a week. For several years I oversaw and managed all the restaurants and lounges at the Palmer House in Chicago, a 1,700-room hotel with seven establishments.
The food is also noteworthy at the Purple Room.
It really is. Executive Chef Jennifer Town has done a fabulous job reworking several classic midcentury supper club staples in her signature style.
You’re a respected member of the entertainment community both regionally and abroad. Would you describe yourself as a drag queen, a female impersonator, or …?
I am an entertainer and performer. I perform all live vocals and comedy. Something that I love about the local community is that they aren’t elitist. We cheer for and celebrate each other here. The desert is very welcoming. It’s one of the things that I love about Palm Springs. When I watch the news, I’m encouraged by how much the LGBT community has gained. If you ask anyone who performs in drag, they’ll tell you that we come out of the closet twice; once as a gay man, and then again as our stage personas.
Do you consider yourself an activist?
I am very involved in the community … but what really matters? Are you a good person? Are you kind? Do you care for your community? Do you care for your environment? Your skin color, what church you go to, and whom you love are irrelevant when seeing the heart of what matters about a person.
See Michael Holmes at the Purple Room with the Michael Holmes Trio each Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and in The Judy Show every Sunday at 7 p.m., with dinner reservations starting at 5:30 p.m. 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com