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October 1, 2014

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‘La Cage’ producer, star retract claws for goodbye hug

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ETHAN MILLER / LAS VEGAS SUN

Frank Marino as Joan Rivers delivers his monologue during “An Evening at La Cage” at the Riviera on Monday, Sept. 18, 2000.

Frank Marino

Frank Marino as Joan Rivers delivers his monologue during Launch slideshow »

In the Mind of Frank Marino

Beyond the Sun

Like any couple, “La Cage” producer Norbert Aleman and headliner Frank Marino have had their differences of opinion over the past 24 years — their spats, their screaming matches, their name calling and threats of lawsuits.

But now that the drag show at the Riviera has ended and Aleman and Marino are going their separate ways, they have nothing but kind words for each other.

“Norbert is a genius and I wish him great luck,” Marino said after Aleman announced at the end of Monday’s performance that the revue was closing.

“I wish him well,” Aleman said of Marino. “He is very talented.”

Aleman said he finally pulled the plug for several reasons.

“The economy is not the best right now,” he said. “I prefer to close at the top than to close when the show is going down. I prefer to leave as a winner, not a loser.”

The Riviera showroom seats about 600, and there were about 180 on hand for the finale.

“I don’t want to do a show and have 100 people in the room,” Aleman said. “It’s not fair to the performers. To me it is kind of degrading.”

The producer said closing the show gives him more time to spend with his family and to pursue a realty TV series based on “La Cage,” which he hopes will find a spot on television within six or seven months. Aleman said he could bring back “La Cage” after the reality show hits the airwaves.

Marino said the show’s closing gives him a chance to pursue his dream. “The Frank Marino Show” would not be unlike “La Cage,” in which Marino dressed as Joan Rivers and introduced a dozen or so female impersonators.

“I’m going to take a three-week vacation and then I’m going to come back in a big way and do my own show, the show I’ve been talking about for years,” he said. “I have a few options, possibly staying at the Riviera, but a few other hotels are interested.

“I will be using some of the same people that were in ‘La Cage.’ I have worked with some very talented people over the past 24 years.”

“La Cage” was the fourth-longest-running production in Vegas, behind “Folies Bergere,” which will end its 49-year run at the Tropicana in March, “Jubilee!” (Bally’s) and “Legends in Concert” (now at Harrah’s).

If Marino can’t negotiate a deal to stay at the Riviera, he said, he will be working with Adam Steck of Spi Entertainment, the producer of “Thunder From Down Under,” to create a show in another venue.

“I haven’t made a decision yet,” he said. “I want to find the best deal I can get.”

The closing of “La Cage” leaves Las Vegas practically drag-queen-less.

“Lucky Cheng’s” drag queen show at the Krave nightclub ends its three-year run Sunday.

The only Strip cross-dresser on the horizon is Cashetta, a magician whose show, “Magic’s a Drag,” debuts Feb. 21 at the Harmon Theater inside Krave.

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