Frank Marino’s DIVAS: Absolutely HER-Larious
Don’t hate Frank Marino because he looks better in a gown than you do. Don’t hate him because his hair and makeup are always perfect and he walks on Manolo Blahnik stilettos. His show, DIVAS, features an all-star cast of superstar female impersonators, and on any given night, you are likely to meet Britney, Cher, Diana Ross, Beyonce, and more. Even Madonna and Dolly may stop by. Marino, the show’s emcee and star, Joan Rivers, changes between every act and struts on stage in designer gowns, strapped into his stilettos. His campy voice, smooth performance style and comic delivery are part of the reason for his success, but the main reason is his incredible energy. As his promo material says, “Niagara Falls could take lessons.” Be-dah-da-dum.
Marino grew up in New York and was going to be a doctor. In college, he worked in the pharmacy and spent too much time at the makeup counter. “For Halloween, I dressed up as Diana Ross,” he said.
Later on, he began impersonating Joan Rivers because of her glamor. “That was my big break,” he said. “I was impersonating Joan and went to see her in Atlantic City. I sent flowers and knocked on her door. She introduced me to producers who were looking for a ‘Joan’ in Florida. I played the Sunrise Musical Theatre, which had 5,000 seats. Pia Zadora and her husband saw the show. They owned the Riviera in Las Vegas and they booked me for three months. I lasted 25 years. When it ended, I started my own show, ‘Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas’ at Caesar’s Entertainment for 10 years. I’m now in the Legends in Concert at the Tropicana and I’m still playing Joan.”
Rivers was very supportive of Marino and he appeared on Rivers’ show, Fashion Police, spoofing what she would wear to Jennifer Aniston’s wedding. He wore a gown, of course.
In 2005, then Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman proclaimed Feb. 1 to be “Frank Marino Day.” He has a street, Frank Marino Drive, named after him and a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Fame. In 2009, he was named Las Vegas’ “Entertainer of the Century,” and has performed more than 25,000 shows to more than 10 million people.
Marino is an author, newscaster, columnist and actor. His first book, His Majesty, the Queen, was a best-seller and he appeared in Miss Congeniality 2 with Sandra Bullock and in the off-Broadway hit, Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding.
He said that the show is about more than impersonating stars. “It’s the soundtrack of their lives,” he said. “With Aretha Franklin, we have everything from when she was young to before she passed away. We bring back memories to life. My core audience is Mr. and Mrs. America. The couple sees the show in Vegas and the next time they’re in town, it’s the first show they run to with friends. It’s usually the husbands who bring the others. Women run the households and they bring (the husbands) and he ends up liking our show better than the sexy show she promised for the next night. It becomes one big party, a very light, fun show.
While Marino always knew he’d be a star, he didn’t know the path would be covered with designer clothes and wig changes. “The ladder of success was even harder to climb wearing high heels,” he said.
Come meet the Divas. It won’t be a drag.