Long Live the Queen: Celebrating 30 Years with Frank Marino
By Abi Wright
When you think of Las Vegas headliners, most would assume they have ‘diva’ moments. But that’s exactly what Vegas’ longest running headliner has made his fortune from: Being a Diva. Frank Marino, lovingly dubbed as “The Queen of the Strip,” is a celebrity female impersonator best known for his starring role as Joan Rivers in Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas.
Divas is unlike any other show on the Strip and has out-lasted all the others in town. In fact, Frank celebrates his 30th year anniversary on Friday, September 18th at The Linq Hotel and Casino- continuing his reign as Vegas’ longest running headliner. The show itself is never the same. Frank says, “Comedy comes from what we relate to, what goes on, current events. We’ve gotten through a lot of hard times because we constantly change parts of the act- it’s what’s helped us survive.”
Though Frank’s role is starring as comedian legend, Joan Rivers, it’s a massive show and opens with an extravagant Vegas production where he brings on all the great women who have performed on the Strip over the years, from Cher to Lady Gaga and Diana Ross to Madonna. There are a total of 17 amazing acts (and 17 costume changes for Frank) throughout the 75 minute show with high-energy music that he describes as “the soundtrack of your life!” With over 25K performances and 400K total costume changes, this production has seen more dazzling Bob Mackie designer gowns, Christian Louboutin high heels and contouring makeup than most women will see in a lifetime.
One of the best parts of Divas however, is the audience. The old stigma of a “drag” show was once comparable to having to “drag” your husband or boyfriend to go along, but that’s not at all the case for Frank Marino’s Divas. “It’s not what you probably think before you come. I’m not selling a lifestyle… I’m selling a form of entertainment that’s literally been around for thousands of years…” It’s a celebration of beauty, music and comedy that everyone; men and women, senior citizens and young adults, rave about after experiencing, time and time again.
When asked where he’s from, Frank replies, “Heaven… or New York for short.” His quick tongue and witty personality is nothing shy of how the late Joan Rivers would have responded. Quoting her, he says “Can we talk?” and it’s as though you’re about to be interviewed on the red carpet… which Frank states that Joan changed ‘singlehandedly’ by four simple words: “Who are you wearing?”
At 17 years old, he came full circle with the legendary Rivers, while impersonating her at a show in Atlantic City she was attending. Producers of the Vegas show La Cage were in her dressing room and asked him to interview. He landed a 3 month contract then began headlining at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on September 18, 1985.
The Riviera, which closed its doors after 60 years in May 2015, is another major factor in Frank’s life, who performed there for 25 years. His greatest memory was opening night: In the audience was Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr. and Redd Foxx. Frank says, “It’s like a part of me. I grew up at the Riviera.” Then in September 2010, Frank Marino’s Diva’s moved to Imperial Palace, later renamed The Quad, which is now The Linq Hotel and Casino… but technically, he’s only ever performed in two places during his entire career, which is almost unheard of.
So whether you’re local or a tourist and looking for an unforgettable experience, come celebrate 30 fabulous years with Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas, performing nightly at The Linq Hotel and Casino… and long live the queen!
“I will work as hard as I do because I love it.” – Joan Rivers