Pictured Dinah! new book. Golfing at Dinah.
Mark your calendars, ladies. Dinah weekend is fast approaching—March 23-27 to be exact. 'Dinah Weekend,' for the uninitiated ( read: all gay men ) is the LPGA's annual golf tournament that Dinah Shore, the late singer, television personality, Chevrolet jingle singer, and one-time lady friend of Burt Reynolds, fronted as resident celebrity until her death in 1994. Though the tournament was officially renamed in 1999 after its corporate sponsors, to thousands of lesbians it's always going to be the 'Dinah'—not just a golf tournament but also an excuse to party in Palm Springs once a year—a sort of Spring Break for dykes of all ages.
Author Michele Kort, a longtime fan of the event has now written the ultimate guide to the all-girl bash. Dinah! Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'N' Roll is both a fun, breezy guidebook with tips on where to stay ( and where not to ) , what parties to head for ( and avoid ) , and a well-researched, fast read that includes mini histories of ladies golf, Palm Springs, and a nice little bio of Dinah Shore. There are lots and lots of photos of ladies hanging around poolside, four color LPGA trading cards ( a cute idea ) and multiple anecdotes from years of attendees aptly titled 'Dinah Dyke Drama.'
I first talked with the delightful, Los Angeles-based Kort in 2002 when she was on a book tour in Chicago in support of her wonderful biography of Laura Nyro, Soul Picnic. Later that year she co-authored The End of Innocence with Chastity Bono and is now a Senior Editor at Ms. Magazine. She's planning on heading down to Palm Springs along with her partner Miriam for this year's 'Dinah!'
WCT: How did the book come together?
MK: I got a call one day from my editor at Alyson, the editor for the Chastity book and she said, 'What do you think about a book about Dinah Shore?' and I just immediately got the flavor that I wanted which was gay and campy but also combines that with a straight side that tells the story of women's golf and Dinah Shore.
WCT: I love the 'Dinah Dyke Drama' stories—they put a great face to the event.
MK: I thought of that since day one but I had a harder time finding those than I thought I would. I figured I'd put this up on my Web site and people will just flood me with these stories, but it was a little harder to get them than that. Maybe people just go through the weekend in an alcohol-fueled blur and don't remember.
WCT: So what is your Dyke Drama story?
MK: It's in the book—though I didn't use my real name. It's about going to see the group the Dyketones and it has to do with my girlfriend at the time coming back from the show and getting drunk and wanting to go swimming and I'm telling her not to and fighting with this other woman about it. 'Daphne' on page 39 is me.
WCT: I love that you're 'Daphne.' I've just outed you! ( laughs )
MK: Yes, you have outed me as 'Daphne.' ( laughs ) I had another one that was very complicated. I've been to the tournament a lot. In the '80s I had a girlfriend who really loved it and my aunt owned a condo in Palm Springs really close to the Wyndam Hotel.
WCT: Is that Dyke central?
MK: Oh yeah—although this year I think it's at the Riviera because there's this deal that if the White Party falls on the same weekend as the Dinah Shore the boys get the dibs on the Wyndam.
WCT: I thought it was ladies first?
MK: Sorry—not in the gay community ( laughs ) .
WCT: Hasn't there also been a shift, with a younger group coming in?
MK: Yeah, when I started it wasn't really the bikini crowd. It was more of a jock crowd. People wanted to go to parties but they also wanted to go to the golf tournament, too and then this group started in the '90s and all of a sudden there were these fabulous-looking gals in bikinis and they probably didn't even know the tournament was going on. It just became this event and it was all about being poolside and parading around.
WCT: What's this about the LPGA trying to separate themselves from the lesbian thing? Is that one reason why they took Dinah's name off the tournament? Not because she was a lesbian but because it became 'Dinah', a sort of code word in the lesbian community?
MK: That's just speculation. The other speculation is that changing the name to the Kraft/Nabisco Tournament gave them a lot more notoriety for the corporate sponsors. It's typical of so many places and things that have been renamed for corporations. ... So the less venal explanation is that. I'm sure the LPGA doesn't want to be called the Lesbian Professional Golf Association but on the other hand they're getting much more sensitive. When Rosie Jones came out last year the Commissioner of the LPGA was very supportive to her and her sponsors were supportive. It's not that people are flocking to come out but there's a little less of that outright homophobia that there used to be.
WCT: It seems the equivalent of male movie stars not being able to come out because they'll lose their livelihood.
MK: I think that the thing that golfers or basketball player associations fear is not the individual players but I think they're real concerned about their league or their tour; that they'll lose the general support for it if it's a critical mass of too many women perceived as being gay. It's OK if there's a few and there's usually only one or two out at any time.
WCT: Do you see that changing?
MK: No. Unfortunately I don't. I mean one woman came out in the WNBA and she's retired now so there's no one out in the WNBA and there's one woman who's out but almost retired, and Patti Sheehan came out but hasn't said much about it since. I think they don't want to draw attention to that.
WCT: Maybe that's a reason why all these gay leagues are becoming much more prominent—this separate community of athletes who refuse to stay in the closet.
MK: Yeah and there are some people who play in the Gay Games after their other careers are over.
WCT: I love that Olivia Cruises is sponsoring Rosie Jones.
MK: Yeah, she's working for Olivia, isn't that great? But you know, when I interviewed Rosie she told me that the people that get the most uncomfortable about things like that are the other gay players. They're the ones who don't call and say, 'Great, good for you!' Because they're scared that they're going to be identified.
WCT: Let's pretend I'm a first-time visitor to Dinah and I can't get a copy of your book beforehand—so, as an honorary lesbian, give me some insider recommendations for a fabulous weekend.
MK: Well I have offbeat recommendations which are like, 'Go to the tournament, you'll have a good time.'
WCT: Go to the tournament—I love that that's offbeat.
MK: Yeah, instead of partying the whole time. You'll see a lot of cute girls and a lot of cute golfers at the tournament—that's what I always liked about it. You only have to be quiet when they're playing through. In between the golfers you can talk and flirt.
WCT: OK, that's a good one. What else?
MK: I always say go to the Indian canyon because I always think that's so beautiful in Palm Springs.
WCT: And if I can't make it?
MK: Buy the book and live it vicariously!
WCAA Women's B-ball Finals
A record 18 teams in WCAA Women's Basketball league are contesting the final regular-season games on Sundays ( 10-2 ) at Winnemac Park/Amundsen HS ( Damen at Foster ) through March 27. In Competitive ( A ) Division, Young Guns and Charlie's-A, and in Recreational ( B ) Division, Shirts Reloaded and Wildcats hold strong positions. The struggle for remaining Recreational Division brackets is particularly tight among five teams: Condie Management, Charlie's-B, Grey Ghosts, Guurl Trouble and SPIN-II.
Playoffs and Championship games will run Sunday, April 3, at Winnemac / Amundsen, beginning at 10 a.m. thru 1 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded around 2 p.m., immediately following the last Championship game.
An informal league party at T's Restaurant and Bar, 5025 N. Clark, will follow. For info, contact: email@example.com .
For Basketball finals day April 3: 10 a.m. Recreational Division Semifinals ( Both Gyms ) ; 11 a.m. Competitive Division Semifinals ( Both Gyms ) ; Noon Recreational Div. Championship ( East Large Gym ) ; 1 p.m.Competitive Div. Championship ( East Large Gym )
The Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association Summer Softball Signup party for Sunday Open ( mostly men ) and Thursday league ( mix of men and women ) is at Crew Bar. New players and players looking for teams on Saturday, March 19 from 2-4 p.m. Returning players on Saturday, March 26 from 2-5 p.m. Signup for Thursday Softball on March 19 & March 26; www.chicagomsa.com .