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Reigning Supreme: Drag Diva Frank Marino is Vegas' Longest-Running Headliner

Reigning Supreme: Drag Diva Frank Marino is Vegas' Longest-Running Headliner
Marino, in and out of fabulous persona. (Frank Marino)

He's Las Vegas' longest-running headliner, so it's hard to imagine Frank Marino not performing center stage. That said, the superstar drag queen and diva was originally studying to be a doctor.

While working as a junior pharmacist, fate intervened, in the form of a makeup counter at his pharmacy. Marino soon found himself mastering cosmetic arts and winning a drag contest dressed as his idol, Diana Ross.

"I wanted to be Diana Ross, but I couldn't sing and I wasn't black, so that put a damper on things," Marino joked. He instead decided to perfect his Joan Rivers impersonation.

19-year-old Marino found himself backstage at one of Joan Rivers' shows. Then, one night he met the head of the production "An Evening at La Cage." Pia Zadora then brought the show (and Marino) to the Riviera in Las Vegas, where starred for 25 years.

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Eight years ago, Marino moved his act to what's now the Linq Hotel and Casino. He created "Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas" — a "celeb"-studded show that celebrates iconic divas both past and present. Marino updates the show with new artists, but says the show's home at the Millennial-friendly resort isn't the only reason he' s showcasing younger acts.

"It's hard to update a show when you work for someone else," said Marino. "Really, all of these thoughts and ideas I had when I worked for 'La Cage,' the only difference is now I get to utilize them."

For every contemporary chart-topper, Marino likes to add a classic to the act — he recently introduced an Adele and Barbra Streisand mash-up. Marino plans to debut a Beyoncé act this month while also working on a "Ladies of the '80s" segment with Pat Benatar and Tina Turner.

Marino insists the show has something for everyone. "Even if you don't like Joan Rivers, chances are you'll like some of the comedy I'm performing," Marino said. "If you don't like one of the dresses I'm wearing or one of the stars, there's going to be another one shortly — we have 17 acts in the show."

As entertaining as Divas Las Vegas is for the audience, Marino has the most fun. "I know it's cheesy," Marino said, "but the hour and a half I do this show is my favorite time of day."

-Heather Turk, Custom Publishing Writer