TFF recently had the AMAZING opportunity to interview Mariah Hansen who is the creator and producer of the Dinah Shore event. We chatted at length about how Dinah got started, what the highest and lowest points of her career have been thus far, and how she feels about winning the 2013 Athena Leadership Award. Mariah is FAB and hearing about how she created such a large event from scratch was really inspirational. Enjoy the interview and share with friends.
The Fab Femme: Tell us about you Dinah Shore started. Where did the idea come from?
Mariah Hansen: I started it 24 years ago. There were smaller parties that were going on prior to me entering the market and I wasn’t impressed. I felt there was potential there but that it could be better. The Dinah was built around a very popular golf tournament that goes on every year. A lot of lesbians would attend the golf tournament so I figured Palm Springs would be the perfect place to start building.
TFF: Dinah shore is widely known throughout the LGBT community. Was there ever a point where Dinah Shore was still pre-mature and challenging to run?
MH: It is every year. That part hasn’t changed. It has always been a challenge because it’s always been such a monumental event. Producers and entrepreneurs are sometimes inspired by the stress and the nervous energy. I’m always trying to outdo myself and as a producer I feel like I produce the biggest lesbian event in the world. That’s my responsibility.
TFF: This year you’re being honored for the 2013 Athena Leadership Award. Tell us a little about that.
MH: It’s a straight organization so that’s pretty cool. I don’t receive a lot of accolades so I was flattered to be honored for the Athena. I’m kind of the Susan DeLuca of the event planning industry. *Laughs* It is nice to be recognized and by the city of Palm Springs. The climate has changed drastically and now it’s so diverse and tolerant and open. It’s incredible to see the cities evolution. I’m incredibly honored.
TFF: Did you ever think that Dinah Shore would become a staple in LGBT culture?
MH: No. I didn’t. I wasn’t looking at it like that. I just wanted to throw the best party I have inside me. It still puts an odd smile on my face. It means so much to a certain segment of our community and I’m always taken aback when I re-discover how important the event is.
TFF: What has been the highest point of your career and what has been the lowest?
MH: Umm… The highest point was when I booked Katy Perry, and the lowest point was when I booked Katy Perry. I knew she was going to be huge and that the crowd would love her. When I booked her and I announced who was headlining, I was burned by a segment of the community. They wanted to boycott Dinah because they didn’t want Katy Perry to perform. After she did “Firework” and started speaking up on LGBTQ issues, all of a sudden they liked her and realized she was the real deal and she cared.
The next year there was a FB petition to bring Katy Perry back to the Dinah. Were good at picking artist that take off. You’ll never see Katy Perry at an event where it’s such an intimate surrounding again. We choose good artist. They really interact with the audience. They want to come back. The musical aspect is critical because it’s a unifying element to our culture.
TFF: Last question, can you give us a little information on what patrons can expect at the Dinah this year?
MH: I will say that I’m vested in producing a musical lineup very similar to some of our biggest. This is also the second year with our film festival. We’re currently taking submissions. We’re starting the poker tournament too which is exciting. We’re doing both Friday and Saturday at the convention center because we’ve gotten so big. It’s gonna be a good event.