Comedians Mina Hartong and Lin Phillippi are slated to be two of the featured performers at the Feb. 9 Lez Out Loud show.

After comedian Mina Hartong and her wife half-moved to the Coachella Valley in the summer of 2020 (they split time between here and New York City), she learned that while there are a lot of local events geared toward gay men, there aren’t so many geared toward lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. So she decided to do something about it.

The result was Lez Out Loud, a series of women-focused (but open to all) events at Runway Bar and Restaurant. The next event is Valentine’s Day-themed, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 9. Hartong will host and perform a standup comedy set; the other featured performers are comedian Lin Phillippi and musical guest Shelley Speck.

“This is our third show,” Hartong said. “We started in July, and then we had one for (Greater Palm Springs) Pride week. This show is unique, because we’re making it a benefit for The L-Fund, a group that I’m extremely fond of. Not enough people know about them. I volunteered at their booth during Pride, and there just weren’t enough people who knew who we were.”

The mission of The L-Fund is “to empower cis and trans lesbians through financial crisis assistance, grants for education (and) the arts, and health and wellness programs.” Not only will the Feb. 9 edition of Lez Out Loud serve as a fundraiser for the organization; The L-Fund’s influence runs throughout the event.

“I applied for a grant from The L-Fund for another event I’m doing in March, and it’s a huge help, what they do,” Hartong said. “(The L-Fund does more than just) help people with a dire financial need. Shelley Speck, the equipment she’s using onstage, is from an L-Fund grant.”

Hartong is using Lez Out Loud as a forum to give stage time to up-and-coming women performers. For starters, Hartong teaches standup comedy, and Lin Phillippi is one of her students.

“We really run the gamut of entertainment,” Hartong said. “I do standup, personal narrative, as does Lin. I’m an experienced emcee, so I host the whole evening, and my set is at the end of the evening. Shelley does acoustic guitar, acoustic rock, and writes original songs … she lives in Desert Hot Springs. She’s wonderful. We’ve got a young queer woman who I met during Pride; she goes by Lesbian Snow White on (social media), and she’s a ukulele player. … Then we have this wonderful hula dancer, Mei Ling Tom, who’s on The L-Fund board.”

While Hartong and her wife split time between the Coachella Valley and New York City due to her wife’s work, Hartong said she is totally smitten with the area.

“We’ve been so embraced here,” Hartong said. “… I’m an avid hiker, and I love just waking up to the surroundings. It is breathtaking. I never really get tired of that. There’s such a strong community here, not just with the women, but even your neighbors. … People just look out for each other here in a way that I haven’t experienced anywhere else in this country. I love that.”

Lez Out Loud: Valentine’s Edition is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Runway Bar and Restaurant at CCBC, 68300 Gay Resort Drive, in Cathedral City. General admission seats are $20 with a two-item minimum; a dinner seating at 5:30 p.m. costs $45. A portion of the proceeds benefit The L-Fund. For tickets or more information, visit www.runwayccbc.com.

Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...

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