Further evidence that the Coachella Valley is beginning to heal: Drag shows are coming back—including one that’s new to the area.
Pickle’s Follies will debut at the recently renovated One Eleven Bar (formerly Studio One 11) in Cathedral City on Sunday, May 2, 16 and 30. Tickets are free, but limited.
Pickle, aka Joseph Faragher, is a drag queen based in Los Angeles.
“I’m so excited to be coming out there,” Pickle said during a recent phone interview. “I actually met the people who took over ownership of Studio One 11. I used to do shows at Flaming Saddles in West Hollywood, and they would come to my shows there. We had wanted to work together, so it was kind of the perfect coincidence that they bought the bar at this time, and are bringing me in.”
The word “Follies” has a special meaning in the Coachella Valley, thanks to the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, which brought a lot of attention to the area during the show’s 24-year run. As for Pickle’s Follies?
“It’s going to be a musical cabaret with showtunes,” Pickle said. “I’m trying to go back to my foundation—what excited me about performing when I was a kid, which was musicals and that sort of thing. I’m thinking of it as like almost a mini-musical. I’m starting with the bare bones of one of my favorite musicals, Sweet Charity. I’m taking my favorite parts of that musical and integrating it into my normal drag act, which has a lot of audience interaction and trivia questions. I’m really excited to do something of this nature, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do yet.”
The time off forced upon performers by the pandemic allowed Pickle to analyze her act and her ambitions, and reflect on her performances.
“I do a lot of private events,” Pickle said. “I’ve done, like, a lot of weddings, and I actually performed at a funeral once. It was more of a celebration of life, but the guest of honor was dead. I’ve done a lot of little solo engagements where I’ll do a few songs and stuff. I’ve had a year to decompress and re-evaluate what about performing I really love, and which pieces that I haven’t explored yet. I haven’t really integrated dances much into my act, and I’ve always really enjoyed dancing, so I’m excited to do something I’ve been doing for a long time, but I haven’t done on a public level.”
The shows at One Eleven Bar will be Pickles’ first live performances since the shutdowns—although she has been doing virtual performances, and has learned some valuable lessons from them.
“Luckily, my act has always been so interactive that it’s kind of second nature to me,” Pickle said. “I’ve been doing all these Zoom gigs and stuff, and there’s this inherent level of awkwardness to them, but I’ve been able to work through them, because it’s just so ingrained in me how to do audience interaction. These in-person shows will be a lot of distanced back and forth, but I feel confident in my ability to roll with the comedy of the situation, instead of making it awkward. I embrace the awkwardness and make a joke of it, while still staying safe.”
Pickle said it feels quite good to be returning to the stage.
“I’ve been performing constantly since I was 13, so it was weird to have this time where I’m not doing it,” Pickle said. “In a way, I think that it’s really beneficial, because we can become so accustomed to this ‘Go! Go! Go!’ that we don’t really take time, or I don’t take time, to allow my body to decompress stuff. I’m really excited and a little bit nervous. I did have this moment where I was like, ‘What if I just forget how to be on stage? What if I fall?’ I’ve been vaccinated for a while now, so I feel safe. I feel comfortable, and I’m just excited to get back on the stage.”
In the day and age of uncertainty, Pickle is approaching one show at a time.
“We’re doing every other week for the month of May, and seeing kind of how the crowds are, and what people’s reactions are,” said Pickle. “I tend to think of engagements one at a time as opposed to thinking about what I’m going to turn it into, so that I can really focus on bringing the best show I can to each audience. So for now, I’m really focused on delivering a high-quality performance. I’m rehearsing now and getting a head start on all that, so my focus is to really deliver all this pent-up performance energy that I’ve been accumulating—like a queen bee in a hive would accumulate nectar—and sploosh that on everyone’s face. Obviously, it’d be great to do an ongoing engagement, but for now, I’m just taking it one show at a time.”
Despite the uncertainty, Pickle expressed optimism about the future.
“This has been a very challenging and very harrowing experience for everyone, but I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of person, which is also why I wanted to start with Sweet Charity, because it’s really centered around an eternal optimist,” Pickle said. “I’m kind of channeling that energy of taking everything in stride, and she’s a character that I really relate to, because life throws obstacles at her, but she always looks at the bright side.”
Pickle’s Follies will be performed at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 2, 16 and 30, at One Eleven Bar, 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite A102, in Cathedral City. Tickets are free, and seating is limited. For tickets or more information, call 760-537-3111, or visit oneelevenbar.ticketleap.com/pickles-follies.