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Cabin Fever? Out in West Hollywood Memorial Day offerings

Last minute staycation plans? Make this long weekend more memorable,at these four chic West Hollywood hotels.

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Out Zones in West Hollywood (Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood)

For those in need of last minute staycation plans, or simply looking to make this long weekend more memorable, these four chic West Hollywood hotels have got you covered. Offering some of the best luxury accommodations in the neighborhood, these four Memorial Day Weekend specials will satisfy all cravings, from poolside massages at the Chamberlain to a $100 beverage credit at The Grafton on Sunset. 

Bite the Urge, Feel the Flame at the Montrose West Hollywood

Courtesy of the Montrose Hotel

Too much of anything is bad – unless we’re talking about indulging at Montrose West Hollywood! This Memorial Day Weekend, let loose and “bite the urge” with the help of a welcome bottle of bubbly in your suite upon arrival and a complimentary rooftop appetizer. Keep things hot while you cool off poolside with specials on spicy margaritas all weekend long!

Suite rates start at $299. The package is available to book from Thursday, May 27 to Tuesday, June 1. To book: Visit www.montrosewesthollywood.com or call 888-226-9771

Haute Girl Summer Package at the Chamberlain West Hollywood

Courtesy of The Chamberlain Hotel

Bring your couture up to Chamberlain’s rooftop pool for a Champagne and Bellini Bar, offered Saturday, Sunday and Monday this Memorial Day Weekend! What better way to spend the long weekend celebrating than reveling on the rooftop with a glass of bubbly in tow? Best of all, hotel guests will enjoy complimentary mini massages from Soothe, a luxury wellness service providing poolside massage professionals..

The Haute Girl Summer Package includes overnight accommodations in a fashionable suite, a complimentary glass of ChampagneSuite rates start at $299 and the package is available from May 27 to June 1. To book: Visit www.chamberlainwesethollywood.com or call 888-377-7181

Get Wasted at The Grafton on Sunset

Courtesy of the Grafton Hotel

The time you enjoy wasted in not wasted time at The Grafton on Sunset! This Memorial Day Weekend, let loose with the help of a $100 beverage credit per stay. Get buzzed poolside on the famous Sunset Boulevard before crashing in your pool view room. Stay in a Hollywood inspired guest room on the iconic Sunset Strip; then, kick that hangover with the help of complimentary breakfast!

Room rates start at $239. The package is available to book from Thursday, May 27 to Tuesday, June 1. To book: Visit www.graftononsunset.com or call 888-612-9434

Detox Then Retox at Le Parc Suite Hotel

Courtesy of Le Parc Suite Hotel

Life is all about balance! This Memorial Day Weekend, join the newly renovated Le Parc Suite Hotel by booking our exclusive Detox Then Retox package, which includes a detox with complimentary wellness juice shot at check-in, then a free yoga flow at 11 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. with R&B Yoga on Saturday. Then, get ready to get wild on Sunday with the help of two complimentary drinks at our Bloody Mary Bar with the panoramic views of West Hollywood – retoxing never looked so good! 
The Detox Then Retox package includes accommodations in a newly renovated suite, two yoga classes on Saturday, a Bloody Mary Bar on Sunday and a wellness juice shot at check-in. Suite rates start at $309. The package is available to book from Thursday, May 27 to Tuesday, May 25. To book: Visit www.leparcsuites.com or call 888-324-0353.

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Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera come to Gay Days Disneyland

During Gay Days thousands of LGBTQ+ Disney fans celebrate in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim

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Photo courtesy of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc.

ANAHEIM- Broadway is back, and it’s come to Anaheim. The legendary Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera, two absolute Titans of musical theatre, stopped by Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel Friday night for two intimate back to back engagements for the crowds at the annual Gay Days Anaheim, or as it is more popularly known: Disneyland Gay Days. 

During Gay Days thousands of LGBTQ+ Disney fans celebrate in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with a weekend filled with scavenger hunts, meetups and parties. The park and the hotels almost feel like West Hollywood on a Friday night. The energy this year is especially lively, as Covid prevented last year’s celebration. 

Gay Days began in 1998, attracting a crowd of 2,500 visitors. The weekend now pulls in over ten times that, with 30,000 visitors joining in on the magic in 2019. In a massive group photo outside Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the entire group is decked out in the signature Gay Days red t-shirts – the 2019 edition featured a fabulous Star Wars Storm Trooper with the text “May the Fierce Be With You.”

While the event is not officially sanctioned by Disney, it is supported by it. Disney Pride, as well as several other branches of the Disney empire, have joined in as sponsors for the weekend. It’s also a favorite weekend for the Disneyland cast and staff. 

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc.

The schedule is simple: Friday is arrival day, Saturday is about Disneyland and Sunday is about  California Adventure and the pool party. But Gay Days has got so much more than just a park visit: it now has Hollywood Bowl level-talent coming in for concerts. Kicking off the return to Disneyland this year is Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera. 

The two stars headlined Broadway Night at the 23rd annual Gay Days, kicking off the weekend-long celebration which ran from September 17–19. Drag Race fan favorites Nina West, Jackie Cox and Jan Sport joined in the weekend’s entertainments, with shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday night is buzzing. In the hotel lobby, Gay Days visitors are striking up conversations, getting to know each other, sharing stories about Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse and that time they worked with Debbie Reynolds. Gay Days is definitely a great way to meet your Prince Charming. 

Three-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera began the evening with An Intimate Conversation With Chita Rivera featuring the Broadway legend in conversation with theatre historian Eddie Shapiro. She’s a decorated performer with a score of firsts. She was the original Velma Kelly in Chicago, she was the original Anita in West Side Story, and she’s the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. 

When Rivera was called out on the stage she kicked her leg out high from behind the curtain, and then strutted her way to her chair. She’s 88 years old, but has the bright energy, wit and sparkle of someone decades younger. With charm and humor she tells a captivated audience about that time she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, dancing with Dick Van Dyke and why she loves gay audiences – “they get it.”

She looks back on her storied career with humble gratitude, unexpected for someone who has an award named after themselves (The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography). When asked about a star studded concert she appeared in recognizing entertainment’s greats she simply said “it’s God’s way of saying you’re doing something right.” Chita Rivera left the Disney audience spellbound. 

An hour later, Audra McDonald walked out on the same stage for a piano concert – with Chita Rivera in the front row! Audra is a record-breaking icon. She’s a 6-time Tony winner, and has won at least one Tony in all four acting categories. But, like Chita, she is down to Earth, well-spoken and incredibly gracious. Between songs she peppers in stories about her daughter, playing Mother Superior in Sound of Music Live and Chita Rivera’s influence. 

Audra McDonald sings with a flawlessly smooth, often operatic quality. Standouts from her set include her cover of “Children will Listen” from Sondheim’s Into the Woods and an eerie reimagining of the title track from “Cabaret”, which she performed at The Met Gala by Anna Wintour’s request. She also included a moving performance of the song “I’ll be Here” from the lesser known musical Ordinary Days. The narrative of the song centers on a woman’s relationship with her husband who dies in 9/11. In the capable hands of McDonald, the audience is moved to tears.

The evening is a shining example of the exceptional programming Gay Days has added to an already incredible weekend. The two live performances are signs that a pre-Covid world is slowly returning.

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The 37TH annual LA Asian Pacific Film Festival- Sept. 23 to Oct. 2

For over three decades, LAAPFF has presented over 5,000 films by Asian & Pacific Islander talent- promoting the development of API filmmakers

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The 37TH annual LA Asian Pacific Film Festival (Graphic via Visual Communications)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented annually by Visual Communications (VC), announced this week that the first set of films that will screen as part of the 37th edition of the Festival, which will be a hybrid event taking place virtually and in person at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area from September 23 to October 2, 2021.

The Festival will open on Thursday, September 23 at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles with the Los Angeles premiere of Ann Kaneko’s MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST, a poetic look at the unexpected alliance formed by Native Americans, Japanese American WWII incarcerees, and environmentalists to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

“Visual Communications looks forward to sharing the stories that intersect and converge movements such as MANZANAR, DIVERTED,” says Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications. “From emerging to established filmmakers, the Festival continues to celebrate artists who are making an impact in our communities.”

Following Opening Night, LAAPFF will showcase new works as part of Centerpiece Weekend at the Aratani Theatre and Regal L.A. LIVE. Highlights include the Los Angeles premieres of: Iman Zawahry’s AMERICANISH, the first American Muslim rom-com directed by an American Muslim female filmmaker; Sujata Day’s comedy-drama DEFINITION PLEASE, which she also stars in; Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Sundance hit I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, starring Constance Wu; Dante Basco’s directorial debut THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS; and Suzanne Kai’s long awaited crowdpleaser from Tribeca, LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES, about the legendary Rolling Stone editor and writer Ben Fong-Torres.

LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. Recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative Short Film will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®.

This Festival is the only one of its kind in the world to have earned this qualification. Some highlights from the shorts lineup include the World Premiere presentations of: Candace Ho’s CHASING CLOUDS, a narrative short about a Taiwanese American woman forced to confront the harsh reality of her mother’s dementia; Paolo Bitanga’s NIGHT & DAY, a documentary short from the Philippines about a mother′s home that comes alive once a year when her many children return for the holidays; and Dakota Camacho’s FANA’GUYAN, a short dance film that explores ending violence and generating healing through embodiment, intimacy, and ancestral creativity. FANA’GUYAN will screen as part of Pacific Cinewaves, programming which represents LAAPFF’s commitment to amplify Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities from Hawai’i, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Guåhan (Guam), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Samoa, and throughout the Pacific region.

“It is an honor to work in this landscape and witness the rise of storytellers from Asian & Pacific Islander communities,” said Eseel Borlasa, Programmer & Festival Operations Director of Visual Communications. “Each year, the Festival is proud to share these diverse perspectives, and we hope to continuously bridge understanding and build empathy and solidarity amongst our audiences. That collective work of storytelling to audience impact helps put values into action. LAAPFF believes in that work, and we are proud to be part of the process.”

Visual Communications is proud to continue their partnership with HBO for the fifth annual HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film competition which showcases cinematic storytellers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

The finalists were selected from hundreds of submissions and were judged by a distinguished panel of HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers. The three winning films exemplified this year’s competition theme: “Taking the Lead.” Jess X. Snow’s LITTLE SKY, Jesse Gi’s NEH, and Urvashi Pathania’s UNMOTHERED will premiere at LAAPFF on September 25, and debut on HBO Max on September 27.

This year, the Festival will also continue to host C3, a space for creators to converge and celebrate creative communities. These consist of both virtual and in-person panels and conversations.

Established in 1983, LAAPFF is the largest festival of its kind in Southern California, and the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema. It was recently named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine.

For over three decades, LAAPFF has presented over 5,000 films by Asian & Pacific Islander talent, and continues to expand its commitment to nurturing new talent and promoting the development of Asian & Pacific Islanders both behind and in front of the camera. The Festival is proud to be an Oscar® qualifying fest for the best short film Academy Award category – either live action or animation.

LAAPFF will announce its full lineup on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Ticketing for the general public will be available starting Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.

For program information, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.

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Rapper & singer-songwriter Lil Nas X heads up new role at Taco Bell

The 22-year-old musical artist, now riding the success of two global No. 1 hits was an hourly wage earner as part of a Taco Bell team in 2017

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Lil Nas X (Screenshot courtesy of Taco Bell)

IRVINE – The iconic American fast-food chain serving Mexican-inspired fare such as tacos, quesadillas and nachos has a new pitchman, former Taco Bell employee and now Grammy award winning rapper & singer-songwriter Lil Nas X, (real name Montero Lamar Hill).

In an announcement Monday, Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell commented that “Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans – including its people,” King added; ““This unique partnership will deliver on more than just marketing, allowing us to tap into the genius of Lil Nas X to inspire our team members and align with our commitment to unlocking opportunities for young people.”

As a cultural icon with an insider’s perspective on the Taco Bell team member experience, Lil Nas X has been appointed the title of ‘Chief Impact Officer,’ a newly created role that will allow him to collaborate on the brand experience from the inside out.

The 22-year-old musical artist, who catapulted to fame and now is riding the success of two global No. 1 hits in “Old Town Road” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” was an hourly wage earner as part of the Taco Bell team at an Atlanta-area restaurant in 2017.

Two years later as a successful up and coming musical artist, on June 30, 2019, the last day of Pride Month, he came out publicly as gay tweeting: “some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure. 🌈🤩✨”

(Courtesy of Taco Bell)

In today’s announcement the company acknowledged his ascendency to artistic celebrity as well as his sexual orientation.

Back in 2017, Lil Nas X laid down roots working at an Atlanta-area Taco Bell as a team member and less than five years later he’s ascended to stardom by defying conventions, charting his own course and remaining authentically true to himself – all things that Taco Bell stands for in its own way.”

As part of his new role, Lil Nas X will support the Taco Bell Foundation’s mission and help announce awards to recipients of the Live Más scholarship to enable them to pursue their creative passions. The Taco Bell Foundation breaks down barriers to educate and inspire the next generation of America’s leaders.

Since 1992, the Taco Bell Foundation has reached more than 4 million young people across the country and has awarded more than $110 million in Live Más Scholarships and grants to youth-serving nonprofit organizations focused on education and career readiness.

The artist’s “expertise in understanding social media and youth culture alongside his skills in creating great music makes this partnership with Taco Bell exciting, brave and one of the most innovative campaigns I’ve had the pleasure of creating,” said Jennifer Frommer, senior vp brand partnerships & commercial sync at Columbia Records.

As one of his first initiatives, Lil Nas X will make a cameo in Taco Bell’s breakfast campaign, which kicks off today, as the brand brings its breakfast offerings back to approximately 90% of restaurants nationwide by mid-September.

According to music industry trade magazine Billboard, in June, the rapper revealed his highly anticipated first full-length album would be “coming soon,” though a release date has not been announced.

Lil Nas X x Taco Bell:

From the press release:

As a brand known for its late night Fourth Meal, Taco Bell is celebrating fans who begin craving and planning for their morning meal in the evening to remind them that Taco Bell breakfast awaits come morning.

Breakfast, In Bedtime Stories – Toasted Breakfast Burritos (Commercial) |Taco Bell:

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