By Bobbie Katz
Known for his portrayal of the hilariously irreverent late comedienne and Chief of the Fashion Police Joan Rivers, female impersonator Frank Marino has been dishing the dirt in multiple shows on the Las Vegas Strip for more than 36 years. Now, besides hosting the Legends in Concert show, called “Divas” in his honor and which showcases three talented female tribute artists singing the praises of Adele, Celine Dion, and Cher, at the Tropicana, Marino is about to bring a different kind of bite to his renown of being the longest-running headliner in the city -- brunch.
Can we talk?
Yes, Marino will have a full plate guest-starring in Legends at night and doing his own thing in Frank Marino’s Red Carpet Brunch at the Westgate during daylight hours. The latter, a star-studded immersive upscale Drag Brunch, will be happening exclusively in the new Frank Marino’s Cabaret inside the hotel. It will invite folks to walk the Red Carpet, pose for the paparazzi, and then be amazed by the World’s Best Celebrity Female Impersonators all while consuming the guests’ favorite delicious dining options and specialty cocktails. The cabaret was specially built for Marino and seats 125 people.
“I am so grateful that the Westgate Hotel was able to complete my professional bucket list by opening the Frank Marino Cabaret to house my exciting all-new show,” he says. “I’m so lucky to work alongside my good friends, Alan and Kathi Glist, as well as my partner Alex Schechter. But the cherry on the cake is to share a stage once again with a cast of the world’s best celebrity female impersonators. There will be impersonations of divas from Cher to Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift, and more. There will also be some surprise acts. The Westgate has been 100 percent supportive. Their only request was that we do a top-notch menu, which we have done.”
Frank Marino’s Red Carpet Brunch will have a soft opening, debuting on April 24, April 30, and May 1. There will be two shows, one at 10 a.m. and a second at noon. The brunches will be permanent every week until Marino’s contract is up with Legends in Concert in September. Then he will also do a nighttime show in Frank Marino’s Cabaret with the original divas and “give everyone the show they have been waiting for.”
“Drag’s been so popular lately,” Marino explains. “Ru Paul brought the genre to a height never seen before. I’ll have the female impersonators with me at the Westgate that I had in my ‘Divas’ show at the Linq. For one hour-and-fifteen-minute show, I will be doing my Joan Rivers persona and for the other, I will be doing my own Femme Fatale character. This is the first time a headliner has headlined two shows in two different properties simultaneously, but one will just compliment the other. I write all my own monologues and nothing in the Legends show will be in either Brunch show. They will be totally different vehicles. It’s like Lady Gaga doing ‘Enigma’ and then doing her jazz and piano show – they are completely different. This will be drag queens versus tribute artists.”
“The same goes for the costumes,” he adds. “Nothing I wear in Legends will be worn in the Brunch. In Legends, I have six costume changes; in the two Brunch shows, I will have 13. All are brand new for the latter. People love to see the fantasy of the gowns. My Joan Rivers costumes for Legends were designed by such famed designers as Bob Macke and Versace. A designer named Jovoni made all new costumes for the Brunch.”
Marino says that he loves working in Legends in Concert. One reason is that he doesn’t have to worry about the things he has to handle when he is also the producer of a show as he has been all these years. He can just be concerned with himself and his agenda as opposed to worrying about an entire cast and their needs. He gets his enjoyment from being on stage and watching the audience laugh and smile during his portrayal of Rivers, for which it takes him an hour to put on his makeup and an hour to take it off.
Admittedly, however, his monologues hold the biggest challenge for him in trying to keep current while not hurting anyone.
“For example, I need to make comments about COVID and politics,” he explains. “But I don’t pick sides, I pick on both and bring out the hypocritical things in each. I’m risqué but there is never a need to make people uncomfortable.”
Performing in Legends and getting ready to step back into his producer’s heels for his new gig should be enough to keep Marino busier than he’s ever been. But he still has something more up his Jovoni sleeve. He is going through the steps of becoming a minister so that he can marry couples either in the Westgate chapel or actually in the cabaret on stage.
“Who wouldn’t want a ‘Can We Talk?’ wedding?” he asks rhetorically. “If Elvis used to marry people, so can Joan. I’m also trying to set up Drag Queen Bingo. That way, people can eat brunch, see a show, get married, and play bingo, all in Frank Marino’s Cabaret, It will be The House of Drag.”
Does he have any other big plans, his nighttime show in the cabaret aside?
“I think I’ll run for President in 2024,” Marino quips. “People will be able to save so much money because I can also be First Lady!”
No need to “drag” things out any further than that!
This article appears courtesy of Vegas Insider Daily.com.