Classic Party Girl: Kathy Miller
A freshly minted 33 year old lesbian at the time, Kathy Miller, 57, was on the hunt for other professional women like herself during the early 1980s. The professional party girl for corporate and school events heard about the Dinah Shore Golf Tournament, so she made her way out to the California desert to check out the scene in Palm Springs.
Miller found a terrible party scene where queer women were packed into hotels with minimal bars and smoke-filled rooms.
“It was just too crowded and terrible,” says Kathy, who has thrown parties for more than 30 years. “I thought that if I have a week’s vacation to come out to Palm Springs to enjoy myself and have to subject myself to this seedy [scene], I don’t want to do that.”
Kathy knew that she could do better and she did as a community service. Kathy simply wanted to have a “place to meet that was professionally organized in a comfortable environment,” especially for many of the closeted lesbians — professional and pro-golfers alike. At the time these ladies “could never go to a party” who were being chased by Sports Illustrated and feared being outed to their company big wigs, she says.
So she set out to do something different from the party’s Caroline Clone, former Los Angeles club queen and owner of Little Frida’s Coffee House, had started throwing at the local bars and hotels to capitalize on the queer women oasis, says Kathy.
“It was just for fun,” says Kathy, who has missed only one year of Dinah Shore Weekend since the mid-80s. “We had a different agenda. I wanted to help the community. I wanted more women to come out and be proud of who they are and what they are.”
For the next seven years Kathy threw private parties attracting up to 3,000 queer women at banquet facilities and airplane hangers, “crazy stuff,” says Kathy. Bartenders from up and down the California coast guest tended the bar at her parties and spread the word about her parties to their clients throughout the year.
“I wanted to help women and I wanted them to have a good safe place to go where they weren’t outed,” says Kathy, who had to “drop kick” Sports Illustrated out the front door of her parties during the first three years.
Kathy hosted the parties until someone else came along – and someone did. In 1990, Mariah Hanson, Club Skirts The Dinah, knocked on Kathy’s door. A year later she took over the reigns with Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs, owners of Los Angeles’ premiere lesbian club, Girl Bar, who also discovered Dinah Shore Weekend through their friend Jeffrey Sanker. Jeffrey was well-known for his White Party, and shared his love of the desert with Gans and Sachs in 1990.
In 2006, the threesome broke up after a brief legal tango, adding heat to the desert’s Dinah Shore Weekendwith a bit of competition between the three nightclub vixens splitting the party into two different events.
“The greatest form of flattery is to copy someone,” says Kathy, who created her parties because she couldn’t find what she wanted. In the process she met lifelong friends, including Caroline “Lina” Haines, who hosts the Linashore Golf Classic and had a great time. Kathy still occasionally hosts parties with Carolina, says the two women.
“It’s been a great haven for a lot of people,” says Kathy. “I hope it continues forever.”
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