By KJ Philp, Dec. 4, 2014.
Whether you’re shopping for an unknown recipient at the annual office holiday gift exchange or searching for the right something for that right someone, Echo’s annual holiday gift guide offers suggestions for just about everyone.
Here you’ll find ideas that are sure to delight or surprise — and, hopefully just the right amount of creative inspiration to help you brave the department stores (or the web) once more before the season of giving becomes a holiday memory.
THAT’S THE TICKET
Why bother with an impersonal gift card, or cash, for that matter, when there are so many events to choose from. Giver’s bonus: buy two and you’re invited, too.
LGBT favorites are already announcing 2015 tour dates: Suzanne Vega will perform Feb. 22 at Tucson’s Fox Theatre. Pop newcomer Ariana Grande will perform April 6 and the timeless Bette Midler will be on stage May 24 at US Airways Center in Phoenix. livenation.com.
The Pot of Gold Music Festival, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Fall Out Boy, Bastille, Korn, and so many more – hits Tempe Beach Park March 13-17 (And Team Echo will be out in full force.) potofgoldaz.com
On the heels of her new album release, Heart on My Sleeve, as well as a November show in Mesa, Mary Lambert has announced she’ll return to the Valley in 2015 for a performance the Marquee Theatre’s stage June 3. marylambertsings.com
We’ve waited since 1989 for this moment (sort of), so the fact that Taylor Swift wont take the stage at Gila River Arena in Glendale for more than eight months is hardly a reason to not start shopping for tickets. Fair warning, tickets went on sale Nov. 14 and Ticketmaster is nearly sold out. taylorswift.com
A Touring Show
Cirque du Soleil: Varekai will transform US Airways Center into a “captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanted creatures Feb. 18-22. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai … all right in our own backyard. cirquedusoleil.com
Everyone’s favorite D-lister Kathy Griffin, brings her unabashed wit and pop culture comedy to Ovations Live! at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler March 20 and 21. Not only is Griffin at two-time Emmy winner, a Grammy-winner and New York Times bestselling author, but she’s also a GLAAD Vanguard recipient and Trevor Project’s Trevor Life Award. You go, girl. wingilariver.com
For the Love of Drama Queens
As part of its North American Tour, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler and starring Diana DeGarma and Ace Young) is headed to Broadway in Tucson Jan. 7-11 and then ASU Gammage in Tempe Jan. 13-18. broadwayintucson.com; asugammage.com
Avenue Q, the naughty musical that tells the laugh-out-loud story of recent college grad, Princeton, returns to Arizona Mesa Encore Theater April 10-26. And, if that wasn’t enough, eight additional shows were added June 12-22 at Phoenix Theatre.
Take a step back to a time in history when rhythm and blues blended with other styles of popular music to create the new American sound that Desert Foothills Theater’s Dreamgirls brings to the stage of Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center in Scottsdale from Feb. 13 to March 1. dftheater.org
The Silver Screen Scene
An all-access pass to the Desperado LGBT Film Festival will provide priority seating to all the screenings, including feature films, documentaries and shorts, as well as live music, vendor tables and an LGBT art gallery. The sixth annual event will take place Jan. 23-25 at Paradise Valley Community College. desperadofilmfestival.com.
Be the Belle of the Bowls
What happens when the 2015 Super Bowl and Pro Bowl come to our great state in the same month? Every NFL fan wins. While it’s a little early to know which players will be taking the field in each of these games, Pro Bowl tickets are already going fast. This just in: Katy Perry will headline Super Bowl XLIX halftime show. ticketmaster.com
The Arizona Gay Rodeo Association rodeo is an annual tradition that attracts all walks of life. Tickets are already on sale for the 2015 event, which takes place Feb. 13-15 at Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds in Laveen, Ariz. agra-phx.com
From cocktails to photography (and everything in between), here are a few reads that are sure to please a wide variety of recipients.
Produced by actor and filmmaker Christopher Logan (Connie and Carla, Saving Silverman, TRON: Legacy, Once Upon A Time), Dr.a.g. Book The Film Edition started as a small independent film fundraiser has grown into the “world’s most glamorous book.” Featuring top drag performers from around the world – from New York’s Lady Bunny, Joey Arias and Sherry Vine to the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race — this 180-page collection of stunning color photography, shot by fashion and celebrity photographers, is an international celebration drags finest. bookthefilm.com
Stefani Germanotta. If that name means something to someone on your gift list, then you’ll get a lot of smiles when you give Lady Gaga: Born to Be Free, an unauthorized biography by Jake Brown. This book takes a good look at the Lady herself, her fans and her career. amazon.com/Lady-Gaga-Born-Unauthorized-Biography/dp/1937269442
When Santa keeps bringing 8-year-old Luca the wrong toys, Luca takes matters into his own hands. Because he’s seen Cher on TV, and he definitely “believes,” he’ll write to her instead. Can Cher save the day? Will she help Luca’s parents overcome their rigid insistence on what’s “appropriate” for boys? Cher Upon A Midnight Clear by Matteo B. Bianchi is a Christmas fable for children of all ages — and the holiday story your modern family has been waiting for. fourcatspress.com/new-releases/cher-bianchi
Part drink recipe book, part she-larious drunken memoir, The Harlot’s Guide To Classy Cocktails contains drag queen, actress, comedienne, columnist, and cocktail connoisseur Jeza Belle’s own classy cocktail recipes along with the favorite drinks and messy memories of 28 of the world’s most famous drag queens. harlotsguide.com
DRINK AND BE MERRY
In a season known for family feasts and sweet treats, toast-worthy gifts are more than welcome. Skip the Yule log and the figgy pudding this year and opt for one of these crowd pleasers.
Whether you’re shopping for complex Cabernets or a rich Riesling, the bottle you’re gifting should come in a personalized wine box. This Phoenix-based company, and Local First Arizona member, offers custom lasering of text, logos and photos on Baltic birch boxes (these also make great wedding gifts). personalizedwineboxes.com
Equality Vodka debuted in November, in recognition and in support of the LGBT community. The new brand is an ultra premium vodka with a simple agenda: Equality for all. And, for every bottle purchased, the company will make a donation to a nonprofit organization recognized for advancing the equality movement for the LGBT community, including the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. equalityvodka.com
ENTERTAINMENT FOR EVERYONE
You can never go wrong giving the gift of entertainment. Opting for a new or recent released is always a good start when perusing titles and albums (reading the reviews never hurt either).
ICYMI, Melissa Etheridge released This is M.E., her 15th full-length album, this fall. The album serves as the debut on ME Records as boasts 11 new songs written or co-written by the iconic lesbian rocker herself. melissaetheridge.com
Nick Jonas has been making such a stir on social media — from his nearly nude crotch-grabbing photo shoot to his beefed up role in DirecTV’s Kingdom – that we nearly forgot he released a self-titled solo album last month. nickjonas.com
Queen Forever, an extended 36-track, two-CD set release, features three previously unreleased Queen tracks with late singer Freddie Mercury. The tracks include “There Must Be More to Life Than This” with Michael Jackson, a previously unfinished Mercury-Queen track “Let Me In Your Heart Again” originating from the band’s The Works album recording sessions and a new stripped-down ballad version of Mercury’s first solo hit, his Giorgio Moroder collaboration, “Love Kills.” queenonlinestore.com/Queen/Queen-Forever
Nothing Has Changed, a compilation of tracks from every period of David Bowie’s career, from 1964 to 2014, as well as his first new music since The Next Day. This album features a new single, “Sue,” and the previously unreleased “Let Me Sleep Beside You” from the Toy Sessions. davidbowie.com
Southern Baptist Sissies is a film of the theatrical experience of writer/director Del Shores’ GLAAD Award-winning play about four gay boys growing up in the Southern Baptist church. It explores the conflict between the caustic rhetoric of dogmatic religion and the fragile development of adolescent homosexuality while challenging hypocrisy, exposing damage and offering hope. The intimate experience of theatre on the film screen reveals the complicated emotions from all sides — the confused child, the struggling adolescent and the angry and damaged adult. facebook.com/SouthernBaptistSissies
In Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story, former U.S. Navy SEAL Christopher Beck embarks on a new mission as Kristin Beck. Her search for the American ideals that she protected gains an entirely new meaning as she lives her life truthfully as a transgender woman. After a lifetime of service, Beck has learned that her fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness did not end on the battlefield. This documentary includes exclusive interviews with family and friends, exclusive footage of Beck in training and in combat during active service and bonus features that include a follow-up interview interview with Beck that provides additional insight and updates her growth and journey since filming. ladyvalorfilm.com
In Tru Love, the vivacious Shauna MacDonald (Hemlock Grove) stars as Tru, a 37-year-old bed-hopping lesbian who becomes unexpectedly smitten with elegant 60-year-old Alice (Kate Trotter, Lost Girl). As their affection deepens, Alice’s daughter Suzanne (Christine Horne) worries that Tru may break her mother’s heart. But it seems this lesbian Casanova may have found true love at last. Co-directed by esteemed lesbian filmmaker Kate Johnston and actress Shauna MacDonald, this love story is filled with grace and humor. trulovethefilm.com
OUT AND PROUD
We all have few folks on our holiday shopping list that love nothing more than displaying their pride. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with filling an entire stocking with kitschy rainbow accessories, but here are a few other ways to wear your pride, too.
A Vision of Pride
Woodzee, committed to building a sustainable relationship between style and nature, offers an assortment of quality goods and accessories made from natural, renewable resources. And, for the eco-savvy fashionista, it’s added limited-edition Pride Collection sunglasses. Crafted from repurposed Canadian Maple skateboard decks, the seven-ply construction creates a rainbow on all four styles. woodzee.com
Who Needs Sleeves?
While winter in Arizona does mean a significant temperature drop, it’s still almost always tank top season, and Gay Tanks has your back. Literally. These unisex designs “with a wicked sense of humor” include everything from screen-printed nipples to emojis as part of its debut collection. gaytanks.com
It’s not too late to further commemorate the Phoenix Mercury’s 2014 Championship season, and everyone’s favorite out and proud team member, Brittney Griner. Our No.1 overall draft pick teamed up with Tie the Knott to design “The Brittney Griner,” a uniquely detailed colorful bowtie that includes hummingbirds and orchids — inspired by one of her more prominent tattoos. Bonus: $20 of ever $25 tie purchase is donated to tietheknot.org. tietheknot.org/guest-designer-brittney-griner
Pop The Question
The holidays are a magical time — add in marriage equality for Arizona and there are sure to be a record number of proposals throughout the season ahead. To which we say, don’t for get the enGAYgement ring. Proposition Love, a gay-owned and operated jewelry designer, not only commemorates the marriage movement with its Countdown collection, but 10 percent of all proceeds are donated to organizations that support marriage equality, gay rights, anti-bullying and HIV/AIDS activism. (See story, page 24.) propositionlove.com
Whether you’re shopping for someone who finds joy in giving back or simply stays on top of all the community happenings, we’ve got you covered.
The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS
It may be a bit early to think about tax season, but because The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS is a part of Arizona Working Poor Tax Credit, donations up to $400 may earn a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on Arizona income tax. To put that in perspective, $200 can help cover the cost for 20 HIV tests and $400 can send one child or teen impacted by HIV to Camp Incredible. swhiv.org/donate-now/arizona-charitable-tax-credit
The annual Fresh Brunch — a fundraiser for one n ten, the agency that provides services for LGBT youth — kicks off the community events of the New Year, and 2015 is no exception. The sixth annual signature gala brunch is set for March 1 at the Marriott Camelback Inn Resort in Scottsdale. onenten.org
A donation to the Phoenix Pride Community Foundation will go back to the LGBT community in the form of scholarships and grants. phoenixpride.org
Stay up to date on what’s going on in our LGBT community and beyond with a subscription to Echo Magazine. Get everything our biweekly magazine has to offer — from events and entertainment to news and noisemakers — delivered right to your door. echomag.com/the-magazine/subscribe
A HOLIDAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Who doesn’t need a long weekend — filled with fun in the sun — every now and then? The short answer: Everyone, regardless of whether it’s a staycation or a road trip; a little getaway is always a good gift idea.
Gay Days Arizona
Gay Days is coming back to the Valley of the Sun from June 19 to 21, and it’s never too early to book, er, gift a room at the Saguaro in Scottsdale, the 2015 host hotel. Party passes are also available now (and Echo’s swimsuit competition will take place Sunday, so plan accordingly). gaydaysaz.com
Club Skirts presents The Dinah
Each spring women from across the globe flock to Palm Springs for Club Skirts presents The Dinah. The 2015 event, running April 1-5, marks the 25th anniversary of what’s become the largest all-girl event and music festival in the world. According to Mariah Hanson, the event’s owner and operator, this year will be a special celebration combined with all the celesbian flavor attendees have come to know and love. thedinah.com
Gay Days Anaheim, which has traditionally taken place each October at the Disney parks in both California and Florida, has expanded for the first-ever Gay Days Anaheim at Sea, a cruise on board the Disney Dream that departs Port Canaveral, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. And, don’t forget to wear red. gaydaysanaheim.com