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April 16, 2014

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Away from Luxor, Lorena Peril lives out a fantasy in landing 49ers anthem gig

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Fantasy

Lorena Peril sings the national anthem at an L.A. Clippers game at Staples Center.

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Lorena Peril reacts at California's Great America theme park as her name is called to fill the final spot among national anthem singers for the San Francisco 49ers.

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Lorena Peril sings the national anthem at the L.A. Kings game at Staples Center on Oct. 19, 2011.

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Lorena Peril from "Fantasy" at the Luxor poses for the camera during the Fantasy 2013 Calendar shoot Monday, July 9, 2012.

Fantasy With Lorena Peril

Rehearsals at Fantasy featuring new lead singer Lorena Peril at the Luxor on July 29, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Lorena Peril is the vocalist in “Fantasy.” Last Saturday, she learned that she’ll be living one.

Peril is a San Francisco native who has lived in Las Vegas since 2005. Her favorite NFL team is the San Francisco 49ers. She happens to be one of the great singers in Las Vegas, or anywhere, as the vocalist in the adult revue at the Luxor.

When she’s not singing such “Fantasy” staples as “Roxanne” or “Hips Don’t Lie,” Peril is known as a terrific singer of the national anthem. She’s sung the song in all different environs: before Las Vegas 51s games at Cashman Field, Runnin' Rebel games at UNLV's the Thomas & Mack Center, before Mayor Oscar Goodman’s last State of the City address at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and at L.A. Kings and L.A. Clippers games at Staples Center.

But the one anthem fantasy for Peril was to take the field at Candlestick Park and sing for a sellout 49ers crowd. This is not easily accomplished. There are only eight regular season games on any NFL team’s home schedule.

As good as Peril is, she would have to win her way onto the Candlestick tundra.

The opportunity arose in late May when the team announced that it was taking submissions for the open slots on its 2012 home schedule. Peril was told by her friend and promoter, John Kirk, that the team was opening the audition process to the masses -- or, in this case, current or former Bay Area residents.

“When John told me about this, I had to do it,” Peril said during a phone interview this week. “The 49ers are my team. I went for it.”

Peril proves her 49er fandom by picking the team every week in the Sun’s celebrity NFL handicapping pool. To make her way to an anthem gig at the ’Stick, she was required to send a clip of her singing the song and a 5-by-7-inch head shot.

More than 3,000 would-be anthem singers responded, with that list knocked down to the Top 33 for the final auditions for five open home dates (three were already taken by celebrity singers).

The Top 33 performed in a three-hour, “American Idol”-fashioned contest at California’s Great America theme park in Santa Clara, near the team’s headquarters and under-construction home stadium that is scheduled to replace Candlestick in two years.

Performing at a family theme park is a departure for Peril, who typically sings as dancing beauties disrobe behind her at the Luxor.

“I get very nervous before I sing the anthem,” she said. “I’m talking my legs and hands are shaking. But I calm myself down -- I know this is going to sound corny -- by imagining I’m singing to my mom.

That was not difficult to imagine Saturday, as Peril’s mother, Oselia, attended the competition. In the field of 33, Peril drew luckily -- No. 32, which (aside from being the number worn by Ricky Watters in the 49ers’ most recent Super Bowl victory) put her as one of the last singers to perform.

“I figured, No. 32, they will remember me,” Peril said. “I’d rather have that then go off first or second.”

The field was whittled from 33 to 12, and the finalists were asked to sing once more.

“Some of the others, and we’re talking about some really good singers, brought a pitch pipe with them to make sure they were on key,” Peril said. “I didn’t do that. I just risked it. I don’t know what key I’m in when I start.”

As the final five were announced, four people were named -- and none were Peril.

“I was just saying to myself, ‘It’s great to have made it this far,’ ” she said. “I was down to the very last name.”

And hers was called, at last.

“I jumped like a little girl,” she said, laughing. “I was so excited.”

The secret to singing a proper anthem really isn’t a secret, she says.

“Just tell the story,” Peril says. “Make it genuine. Do that, and you’ll be fine.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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