It’s a common refrain among transplanted residents: They relocated to Palm Springs to escape the stresses of the big city and enjoy a higher quality of life. Entertainer Selene Luna, a self-described “introverted extrovert,” is more blunt about her decision to move to the desert. “It got to the point where I couldn’t walk my dog because of the amount of human feces on the sidewalk,” she says of her life in Hollywood. “It was dangerous, dirty, disgusting, filthy … and it broke my heart.”
The decline of the neighborhood, where she once lived in a house owned by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, was so devastating that in spring 2019, Luna and husband Adam Leemon packed their belongings, including their black Labrador retriever, Lula, and fled Los Angeles.
The couple found fulfilling employment in the desert. Leemon is assistant food and beverage director at the Pink Cabana in Indian Wells, while Luna teamed with director Paul Cruz to produce a comedy night at Hotel Zoso. It was warmly received last fall, and she’s discussing a revival of the show in Palm Springs. Cruz also enlisted Luna to serve as a board member and judge for the annual Palm Springs International Comedy Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24–28.
Luna, who established herself as a popular stand-up comic in L.A., has a genetic skeletal dysplasia and produced the first comedy event featuring an all-disabled lineup, touring the country as an opening act for Margaret Cho. She has also voiced Tia Rosita in Disney-Pixar’s Academy Award-winning Coco.
It’s a career she first considered around the tender age of 5. “That’s when I started to have this realization there was something different about me,” she remembers. “That’s when I decided to go into showbiz because I understood at that age that I would have control over what people are looking at and pointing at. I just figured if people are going to laugh at me, it’s going to be on my terms.”
When not performing, Luna devotes energy to activism work with the Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living, an organization that empowers people with disabilities. She previously broke barriers when she performed with Dita Von Teese’s burlesque show, energized a rally in Washington, D.C. alongside U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, and discussed issues with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters.
“I really love my life in Palm Springs,” she says, adding that she finds the city ripe for comedic material. She’s currently honing new jokes about being stalked by a coyote while hiking with Lula and shaking her big-city anxiety of getting parking tickets.
At least her broken heart has healed.
Location: Mod Mirror Villa
Hair and makeup: David Marvel
Styling: Selene Luna