The Palm Cabaret welcomes new and returning artists for new season!

Press Release
Contact: Tracy Parks
Phone: (322) 168-9950
November 9, 2011
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Mark Rome and Tracy Parks, co-directors of the Palm Cabaret, have announced the cast for the coming season at the popular cabaret, which begins performances on November 18, 2011 with the return of singer Mark Alan Smith, a comedian and live vocal impressionist who played to standing ovations last season in Vallarta.

Opening November 20, 2011 is a new face in Vallarta, Randall Powell, who will lead his own colorful stage show on Sunday nights and emcee “The Lady Bunch” on Thursdays starring Vallarta’s own Diva, Angelica and Cristian. Randall will also accompany Alberto Mejia, from Mexico City, as he sings his Mexican and American standards for the US Thanksgiving crowds at The Palm. Sol Rose, the popular owner of La Bohemia Restaurant and a Vallarta legend, will do his holiday Broadway themed show on November 28: Swingin’ Sol II.

Los Bambinos, Vallarta’s “Favorite Local Musicians” (Virtual Vallarta’s Reader’s Choice), will return on Tuesday nights at 7pm during the season.

“We’re very excited to have so much talent here for the US Thanksgiving week. Your entertainment options this year are plenty,” says Mark Rome, who began the current cabaret concept at The Palm and has been associated with the club for most of the last ten years.

Kim Kuzma, the very popular Canadian singer who has become a favorite among Vallartans, returns in December along with the always funny Joanna, “The Gal with a Gazillion Voices”, another Vallarta favorite who keeps the crowds coming back for more each year!

Over Christmas week, “Chi Chi Rones” a singer from Los Angeles who has won an Emmy for his work writing for Disney, joins the cast and is sure to be a hit with his hilarious and often touching take on Mexican and American culture. Chi Chi’s New Year’s Eve show is going to start early and then join the street festival that is a tradition on Olas Altas each year on Dec. 31st.

The Kinsey Sicks, a four-part “Dragapella” singing group with a twisted sense of humor, bring not only their current show, but will launch their new show, “Electile Dysfunction”, at The Palm in January.

The super popular duo of Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allan of Chicago return to the Palm (after many years) in February for 5 shows only. Also in February, look for Michael Holmes’ “The Judy Show”, in which he impersonates Judy Garland and Pearl Bailey, among others, with stunning live vocals and humor. Wendy Ho, a popular parody artist, comedian and singer arrives in late March for two weeks.

“This year, with our new online ticketing option, guests can reserve seats securely through our website at Our full calendar and links to our artists pages will help ticket buyers make their choices,” adds Tracy Parks, who joined Rome this summer after producing shows last season in Vallarta.
“Shows often sold out in the past so patrons are encouraged to buy online this year. Seats will be held until 10 minutes before curtain.

The Palm is located at Olas Altas 508, just two doors south of La Piazetta Restaurant. You can also find the Palm on Facebook at The Palm Cabaret and Bar. You may also phone the club at 322 222 0277 starting at 6pm nightly.


Exciting New Season at the Palm Cabaret and Bar in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

A few months ago, Mark Rome, who has been the show director at the Palm for many years, asked me to join forces and help bring new talent (to add to the already fantastic line-up of regulars) and ideas to the Palm in Puerto Vallarta.  I was thrilled and accepted the invitation immediately.  So, for the last few weeks, we’ve been meeting and collaborating with entertainers near and far to put together a season that will be the best yet at the Palm.  I must say, I’ve had a blast with it so far, and am really looking forward to the opening of the season mid November.  Most shows are already set thru April but a few surprises are in store that are still pending.  

Work has been going on inside the Palm also to create a better space for viewing the shows.  The two poles in the center of the show room have been “trimmed” and are skinnier, providing better sight lines.  The piano will be put to use much more this year.  It’s getting a good tune up and the DJ booth getting some new equipment.

So check out the website for the Palm at and click on the shows and take a look at what’s in store.  I think you’ll be happy and want to come back again and again to see your favorites and our new entertainment options!  See you at the Palm for Season 2011-2012!


Latin Flavor at the Palm Show Bar this Summer!

Jacobo (left) and company will present Latin Flavor at the Palm this summer starting June 27, 2011! The show will run each Monday at 9pm.

A few days ago, I ran into Jacobo, the director of Darudha Productions, a local dance troupe.  In our conversation he mentioned that he is working on a new show at the Palm for this summer called Latin Flavor.  He says the new show is full of latin dance, music, vocals and spectacular costumes including lots of his signature feathers and stilettos!

This should be a very sexy show!  Many will know Jacobo from his dance numbers at Paco’s Ranch, Blue Chairs, La Noche and several of the major resorts in town.  In fact, this troupe has performed for years all over Mexico and are well trained and super creative.

Below is the poster.  The first show is June 27 at 9pm.  The ticket price includes an open bar so you can pay once and enjoy the show and drinks, all for 350 pesos.  Several great dining establishments are in the same vicinity so you can enjoy dinner beforehand and make it a great evening out!

I decided to help Jacobo launch this project by doing some promotion for him and I’ve written a press release that I hope the local media will run.  So, don’t miss Latin Flavor at the Palm starting June 27th!  The Palm is located at Olas Altas 508 in Zona Romantica, (Old town/Southside) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


Bar Frida: 10 special years…

When I first started visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ten years ago, I read about a Mexican style “alternative” cantina in one of the gay guides.  I made it there as fast as I could.  I knew I had to find it.  I didn’t come to Mexico to sit in fancy bars that reminded me of Miami or Chicago or elsewhere.  I wanted something different.

I found it.  Sitting past the main clump of gay bars and alongside a row of taco stands outside the Farmacia Guadalajara was the original location of Frida’s.  A steady stream of hungry locals, just leaving their waiter job or finishing up their stripper gig at a local club, would stand in line for a taco and venture across the street to Fridas for a beer before going home or hitting the discos for more fun.  My first night there I will never forget.  A Shakira song (she had just started out) was playing on the jukebox behind me and a sexy Mexican bartender was in front of me.  Working alongside him was a friendly and quite beautiful woman named Sandra, who was a fixture at Bar Frida for many years before she opened her own bar.  (Owner Tom wanted a few women bartenders, he told me years later.  To keep the “straight” men happy.  One of them, Blanca, is still employed.)   They made the best margaritas I’d ever tasted with ‘on the spot’ fresh squeezed lime and Controy, the Mexican orange liquor that I would later rush out to buy for myself.

I didn’t know them at the time, but sitting at the first table by the door, was the owner, Tom Finley and his partner, Luis.  Tom had recently moved to Mexico from Vancouver after visiting for 20 years.  Luis, a medical doctor from Merida, had moved to Vallarta to be with Tom.  Together, they make a great team.  They sat with a group of regulars that I came to recognize eventually each time I entered. Tom, a successful business man and former florist, bought bar Frida from two women who were running it as a lesbian bar in 2001.   He kept the name, as he had always admired Frida Kahlo, and started to add to the collection of Frida art that the ladies had left behind.  Each year, new pieces are added, mostly from gifts customers leave. It seems everyone wants to contribute something.

Tom and Luis

I felt so at home there my first night.   Why?  Yes, the jukebox was cheap, so was the beer.  But there was a certain something else.  There were no dancing go-go boys.  No fancy lounge chairs or dance floor.  No ninety peso martinis.  Beers were around 10 pesos and cocktails about 25.  It was pretty predictable most nights as conversations hummed from most of the tables and the bar.  A taco stand employeee (even the Grandmother, who owned the stand and made the fresh tortillas by hand each night) would stop in, greet Tom and Luis and head to the bathroom.  They thanked Tom on the way out.  I have seen Federales stop at the doorway waiting for Tom to say, “Come on in, guys.”  They appreciated a place where they could stop to use the restroom and grab a coke to go (on the house of course).  Tourists shared tips about where to go later in the night.  Not too much else happened at Bar Frida but there was never a dull moment.  The crowd was a mix of locals and expats and tourists.  The decor was all Frida Kahlo, a Mexican Folk heroine that I knew very little about at the time.  The walls were cement painted red and classic “Frida” blue.  The place was tiny, but perfect.  Cozy.  I hadn’t even seen Salma Hayek’s movie about Frida’s life yet.  Years later, after visiting Frida’s home in Coyoacan, south of Mexico City, and reading about her life, I would fall in love with her the way millions of Mexicans had.  The musical selections from the Frida movie soundtrack played nightly in the jukebox at Bar Frida.  One song, Paloma Negra, featured an 80 year old Mexican songstress, Chavela Vargas, that Tom told me all about once I was finally invited to sit at his table by the door on a slow Tuesday in August circa 2004 or so.

“I thought you’d never invite me over,” I told Tom.

“Why?  Everyone’s welcome to sit and chat with us anytime.  We love meeting people.”

Since that night, I’ve rarely missed sitting at the table with Tom and Luis when I visit Frida’s.  And I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world sitting there.  I’ve even fallen asleep (they took embarrassing photos to prove it) there a few nights, under the painting of Frida Kahlo that graces the exit of the new bar Frida location at Insurgentes and Carranza in Puerto Vallarta’s zona romantica.  We were worried that Frida’s would lose some of its appeal or mystique when Tom told us they were moving.  It didn’t happen.  Tom’s explanation:  Bar Frida is about the people, not the place.  He was right, I realized.

Bars come and go in Vallarta but Fridas has always drawn a nice crowd with a consistant, logical marketing plan: keep the prices affordable to all and the ambiance friendly and Mexican and greet each new customer with a free shot of famous house tequila.  Equally important is that you know you’ll always see Tom and Luis there, ready to greet you at the door.  That’s why people come….to say hello to old friends and meet new ones.

I asked Tom one time if he ever gets tired of running bar Frida.  He shook his head no and said that the bar is where he meets his friends and considers them family.  It is where he learns of the day’s events and keeps in touch with what’s going on.  It is where they’ve held many a memorial for friends lost over the years (too many this year alone).  It is where birthdays are celebrated and two years ago, a wedding reception was held for previous bartender, Abner and his partner from Tepic.  It is where a group of (mostly) straight folks play cards each Sunday afternoon.  It is where we’ve cheered a 15 piece Mariachi band at Tom’s Birthday Party each February for as long as I can remember.  It is one of those bars that tourists really miss when they have to head back home after a much needed vacation.  It is home for many expats who have made lasting friendships there.  It is a place where Mexicans and foreigners, whether gay, straight, closeted, out or not, can come in and feel comfortable.  It is also where new bar owners come if they want some advice on how to attract customers.  Seems everyone wants to know Tom’s secret.  Tom always insists, though, that it is the customer’s who make the bar special.

Halloween at Bar Frida is a Vallarta tradition!

It is difficult to visit Frida’s without being effected by the warmth of the people and space.  Many nights, we’ve felt like Frida was there with us.  A few nights, we’ve seen a barstool move on its own or some other strange happening and turn to Tom and before we can speak he’ll say, “Frida is here, partying with us again.”  We love that she would.  Bar Frida celebrates 10 years on June 1, 2011.  It will be packed that night.  I hope I can get a seat next to Tom and Luis.

Dancers Mario and Mario celebrate Bar Frida's Anniversary 2 years ago.

Tom Finley

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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in mexico


Mark Alan Smith returns to Vallarta!

After selling out seats for his 3 night Thanksgiving visit to Vallarta, Mark Alan Smith will be returning to Paco’s Ranch from Feb. 24 to March 6, 2011.

Mark will have new characters and songs (even a spanish number or two is in the works!). It’s never the same show twice, and I’ve been a fan for 20 years!  His recent interpretation of Judy Garland in Vallarta was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen him do.  The voice, the characterization was chillingly spot on!

Tickets may be purchased online HERE.

Tom and Luis (left) of Bar Frida and Carlos and John (right) of Paco’s Ranch with Mark Alan Smith (center)


Thanksgiving Dinner Theatre: Eat at David’s and laugh with Mark Alan Smith!

For those wondering where to go for the upcoming American Thanksgiving Dinner, try this fun, money-saving dinner theatre package offered by Eat at David’s Restaurant and the folks at Mingo Mexico Productions and their upcoming show:  Mark Alan Smith Live!

Your evening starts on November 25 at 6pm at  Eat at Davids on Aquiles Serdan 380 just east of Insurgentes.  Enjoy a full 4 course Thanksgiving Dinner featuring Turkey and all the trimmings and dessert.  David is famous in Vallarta for his homestyle cooking.  The complete menu will include the following:  (note: Eat at David’s is byob.  No corkage fees.  Soft drinks and iced tea available.)

a cold pumpkin or carrot soup
antipasto plate of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, marinated asparagus,
olives and pate

The main course:  turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy,
green bean casserole, scalloped corn, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce

Dessert: Carrot Cake and Milk Brandy Punch 

then at about 7:30 pm:  Walk with us to Paco’s Ranch (2 blocks west and 1 block south) to see the live vocal impressions of Mark Alan Smith. You’ll be treated to VIP seating.  Showtime is 8pm. (90 mins duration).  You’ll laugh and sing along as Mark keeps you on the edge of your seat with his dynamic stage presence and vocal range.  A real treat to see and it’s his first time in Vallarta!  Cocktail service begins at 7:30pm. Showtime is 8pm.

For reservations email David at eatatdavid’  (seating limited to 24 for the dinner theatre package).  You may also make reservations by stopping by Eat at David’s restaurant at Aquiles Serdan 380.  Dinner Theatre and regular tickets for the Mark Alan Smith LIVE! show may be bought online as well.  Visit or call 322 168 9950 for more information.


Vocal Impressionist, Singer and Comedian Mark Alan Smith in Vallarta For Thanksgiving Week

“That’s the best me I’ve ever heard!”

Eartha Kitt

“There is no one like him!”

– Sordid Lives writer/director Del Shores

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, October 24, 2010:  Mingo Mexico Productions announces the Puerto Vallarta debut of Mark Alan Smith, singing live at Paco’s Ranch, in a three-night engagement during the US Thanksgiving week: November 24, 25 and 26, 2010 at 8pm each night.    

Mark’s LIVE vocal impressions (there is no lip sync in this show) of Cher, Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Judy Garland, Liza Manelli, Patsy Cline, Carol Channing, Louis Armstrong and many others leave his standing-room-only audiences begging for more.  His stage presence and vocal range make this performer a must see!

For more than 20 years, Mark Alan Smith has traveled the US and other parts of the world selling out theatres, nightclubs and showrooms.  He has performed with some of the greatest entertainers of our time including the legendary Eartha Kitt, Tiffany, The Weather Girls, Martha Wash, Thelma Houston and Sir Elton John, to name a few.  A documentary about Mark, From a Jack to a Queen, directed by Erik Hayes, ran in short film festivals in 2003, winning an “Audience Favorite Award”. 

Performances will be at the all-new Paco’s Ranch (Ignacio L. Vallarta 237 next to Club Roxy) in Vallarta’s old town/southside on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, November 24, 25 and 26, 2010 at 8pm each night.  Tickets for VIP seating near the stage are 150 pesos.  General admission tickets are 100 pesos.  VIP tickets are encouraged for guaranteed seating. Groups of 6 or more qualify for discounted seating. 

Tickets may be purchased at Bar Frida, Hotel Mercurio, VES Offices and online at (note: there is no extra service fee online).

Opening Night, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24 is a special show to benefit VES, Vallarta Enfrenta el Sida, A.C.  Proceeds from this performance will help VES continue their HIV education and outreach work in the Vallarta area.

Mark’s show is for adults and contains adult humor. The solo performance is approx 90 minutes with no intermission.  Cocktail service is available before and during the show.  Doors open at 7:30pm.  Showtime is 8pm.  For more information call Mingo Mexico Productions at (322)168 9950 or in the USA at (405)240 6675.  Or visit

Register for Mark Alan Smith Live at Paco's Ranch November 24, 25, 26, 2010 at 8pm in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Eventbrite


San Sebastian del Oeste: 2 hours from Vallarta, full of history, charm and magic.

On July 19, five of us decided to rent a big van from our taxi driver friend Juan (email me for his number) and escape the heat of Vallarta for a couple of nights. Our destination was an old silver mining town that once had 20,000 inhabitants. Now, with just a few of over 20 mines that once operated still in business, the town is a living history book where tourists can step back 200 years to another time. There’s one atm in town now and two local taxis. Prior to this year, not even those existed I’m told. The drive up, passing over the new Rainbow Bridge, is a feast for the senses. Tequila and Rascilla stands dot the road along with fruit and candy stands. Once you’re 20 minutes outside of Vallarta the mountain vistas are simply heavenly with lush, green valleys this time of year. A view down to the old road, underneath the Rainbow bridge, reminds carefree passengers of how hard the driver’s had it just a few years back when they had to cross the river below and wind up steep, rocky, unpaved roads for hours to to get where it took us only minutes to reach. One of my friends tells a story of passing another car on the one lane (barely that) road below and feeling the wheels of his bus start to slide off the cliff. They were saved by a quick thinking driver. Damn, scares me to think of it.

This is a bit of background on the town/area from San Sebastien’s tourism board:

With the arrival of Francisco Cortes and his Spanish conquistadors, mining first began in the area in 1524. It eventually became so fruitful with gold, silver lead, and zinc, that the town of San Sebastián del Oeste was founded in 1605. The town would grow to be one of the principal mining centers for New Spain.

Necessary for the smelting process of precious metals, salt was imported by mule from the small costal town of Las Peñas, now known as Puerto Vallarta. The silver and gold would then be transported to Guadalajara, Mexico City, and eventually Veracruz, where it would be shipped out to Spain once a year.

The prosperity of the mines continued, and by 1785, there were over 30 mines. At one point, San Sebastián was even the provincial capital of Jalisco (now Guadalajara). The town became a city in 1812, and by 1830, it claimed more than 20,000 inhabitants.

We chose the a hotel on the zocalo, or town square, called Hacienda Pepellon. It houses the old general store in front and the stables for horses and crew in back. Of course, nobody stores their horses there anymore but the grounds and buildings are full of rich history of a time when this town was booming, just before bandits took over and pretty much wiped out everything.

The old ramp from the hotel to the stables is paved in cobblestones that stay damp and slick this time of year. The town is covered in a misty haze from about 5pm to daybreak, making everything rather wet and cool. Kinda perfect weather for a mountain town. The stamp on the wood above our head in the hotel said 1855. Some buildings in town are over 250 years old.

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I have found a great driver and would be happy to organize another trip soon if anyone wants to go. The Van holds about 6 comfortably. The hotels charge 150 to 300 pesos per room. There’s an Italian Restaurant there that is quite possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. Chef is from Italy and the restaurant is in his charming wife’s home a block off the Zocalo, but it feels like you’ve stepped into a vineyard cafe in Italy. The restaurant is called Montebello now but has been formerly known as Real de Vino, I think. He has quite a following and its an oasis in the middle of a charming, old Mexican mining town. We all agreed it was the best, cripsy thin crust pizza we’ve tasted, bar none! I’m ready to go again! Nearby Talpa de Allende is also on my radar. 🙂

We also stopped for a tour of Pam Thompson’s family’s place, Hacienda Jalisco. I’m really glad we stopped. Amazing stories there. If you want complete isolation, this is the place to stay. If you want to be near restaurants, stay in the town and walk 20 minutes along the river out to Hacienda Jalisco, like some locals did while we were there. It’s so cool, the walk must be a breeze. There are also two taxi drivers in town. Lionelle, is one of them. He was happy to drink with us one night in the old miner bar, which they opened just for us. On Friday and Saturday, its THE place to be in town with live entertainment and Karaoke.


Posted by on July 22, 2010 in mexico


Mexico City Gay Pride

Mexico City’s Gay Pride Parade is one of the most popular in the world.  Images from my new favorite photographer Victor Irigoyen show why.  Take a look here.

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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in mexico, travel, vacation


Puerto Vallarta Bowlers strike it big with new summer league!

One of the joys of low season in Vallarta is that the busy folks like Tim Longpre of vacation rentals can take a break and organize something to benefit the community that sticks it out year ’round in Vallarta… humidity, rain and all (ok it ain’t that bad really but it has sure felt hot these last few days!).  Last year Tim lead a group of volunteers in gathering beans, rice and other food for those in need around Vallarta.  This year, he’s adding a bit of community spirit to the mix with the first ever bowling league at Vallarta’s Superama Bowling Alley behind Collage nightclub in the Marina area.  Each Wednesday at 7pm, a group of about 50 mostly local expats, residents and a smattering of tourists share the 18 lanes for 3 games of league style bowling.  Waiters server drinks and snacks at reasonable prices and another group of about 20 onlookers watched the bowlers on the night I attended.  A huge party is planned for the final night of bowling and raffle tickets have been sold each week to raise money for the big party.  

When I heard about the leagues I thought about my Mom and since we returned to PV a few days ago for my brothers wedding, we took advantage of the opportunity before the crowd arrives for the wedding and offered to sub for any missing regular players.  Mom was a very good bowler a few years back and I thought she enjoy meeting the group that has assembled for these weekly soirees so I sorta volunteered her to be sub.  She filled in for Joanne Cimini and had a great time.  It took her a while to get back into the “swing” of it but once she did, she bowled 3 very respectable games, keeping up with her teammates (ok, not always), the “Misfits” (which was, ironically, the name of her team in the 80’s).  She did bowl several strikes and spares and her team members cheered her and each other quite well.

It was an impressive accomplishment, bringing all of us together for something different and fun.  Much of the staff at PVRPV has been bowling each Wednesday and have been amazingly well organized  (as always) putting the bowling event together for everyone.  Great job.  Hope we get to try again next week.  If you want to bowl while you’re here on vacation email the folks at  They will take care of setting you up to sub just as they did us.

Friday, we’re off to Karaoke night.  I’ll report back.  My mom actually sings better than she bowls.   Oh yeah, I was going to bowl but I forgot my socks.  Next time.

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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in mexico