By James F. Mills
1960s teen singing sensation Lesley Gore, best known for her hit “It’s My Party,” has joined The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies for a two-month gig, bringing her best-known songs to the Broadway-caliber song-and-dance extravaganza playing at the Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.
“Two years ago, for the Follies’ 20th anniversary, I came in and did the January through March slot,” said the 66-year-old Gore, who lives in Manhattan with her partner of 31 years, jewelry designer Lois Sasson, and publicly came out as a lesbian in 2005. “It was very successful. I had a wonderful time, and they enjoyed having me. So this is actually a reappearance. I’m very grateful to be having it again.”
She’s thrilled to be spending time in the Coachella Valley, calling it “one of the more spiritual places on Earth,” and performing for the Follies audience, calling them “bar none, the best.”
Follies-goers can, of course, expect the Brooklyn-born, Tenafly, New Jersey-raised Gore to perform “It’s My Party,” her million-selling record celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“They wouldn’t let me out of Palm Springs if I didn’t do that. If I don’t do ‘It’s My Party,’ I will be crying,” laughed Gore, who was a junior in high school when it topped the charts.
Also on the playlist is “Judy’s Turn to Cry” (“my bitchiest song ever,” she says) along with “That’s the Way Boys Are,” “She’s a Fool,” “Maybe I Know,” “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” and her proto-feminist song, “You Don’t Own Me.”
While “Party” is the song that put her on the map, it’s “You Don’t Own Me” that she’s most proud of.
“I think of ‘Its My Party’ more as a pop ditty. I think it’s a great record, and I think Quincy [Jones] did a remarkable job producing it. It’s part of the fabric of pop music of that time,” said Gore, who is currently working on both a book and a musical of her life. “But ‘You Don’t Own Me’—that had an impact that has grown over the years, has grown in terms of my performance and really gives me something to lean on, really gives my career some gravitas.”
Last year, a producer created a video of women lip syncing “You Don’t Own Me” while images connected to women’s health and women reclaiming their rights appeared on screen, something Gore thinks helped influence the presidential election in Barack Obama’s favor.
“That’s the kind of thrill that you can’t buy,” she said of the video. “It’s not like selling records. It’s not like selling books. It’s the influence that the song had on people during a very crucial time. It’s not money in my pocket, but it certainly makes my heart swell.”
In addition to her daily shows at the Follies, Gore will also be appearing at some of the Dinah Shore weekend events. Her exact schedule for Dinah weekend wasn’t set at press time.