Frank Marino holds the distinction of being the longest-running — “Not the oldest! There’s a difference,” the Brooklyn native is quick to say — consecutive headliner on the Las Vegas Strip, and, after a more-than-three-decade career, his stardom as female impersonator and “Queen of the Strip” is still going strong with Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas at The Linq Hotel & Casino.
Longevity spills over into Marino’s Summerlin home in Eagle Hills, where Alex Schechter, his partner of more than two decades turned fiance, and he have spent more than two years creating their dream home, The Showboy Mansion. And the main focus in the mansion for Marino, who boasts nearly 20 costume changes as opener Joan Rivers and himself in Divas, is his closet.
The first thing to know is that none of the glamorous costumes in Divas are in Marino’s over-the-top and incredibly organized closet, which is across from Schechter’s in the master bedroom. This closet is a showcase for his boy clothes: for starters, a wall of hundreds of bedazzled shoes, with one crystal pair of sneakers enclosed in glass.
“Not a rhinestone was wasted,” he said about the collection.
Cellphones and backpacks stand out in Schechter’s closet. But as for Marino’s, “My favorite thing in my closet is my shoe wall. I have hundreds of shoes. I’ve never counted.”
The compartments of Marino’s closet, which are color coordinated, are belts — “This section lights ups, so that I can see everything”; gym clothes and shorts; pants and jeans, with a healthy dose of leather and embellishments; sweatshirts and Versace sweatsuits; ski suits and robes; sweaters; T-shirts, underwear and socks; and drawers of sunglasses, one of Marino’s favorites.
There is more: a luggage wall with Louis Vuitton luggage — “You don’t have to go out to the garage anymore”; hat wall; suit, jacket and coat wall; fur coat wall — “I hope that PETA’s not reading this”; and a hat and beanie closet.
“It’s organized so that I know where everything is. I have clothes that I haven’t worn yet. I’ll get rid of clothes, if they go out of style,” Marino said. “This is going to sound terrible, but I rarely wear something twice. I add to my closet two to three times a day.
“Versace is probably my favorite designer. Louis Vuitton for bags. My favorite sneakers are a pair by Giuseppe Zanotti. So even my boy clothes have a flair to them. Drag is my work, but this is where I live. I like to keep work and home separate.”
The closet changed forms three or four times before it was completed. Marino is pleased with the final product and wouldn’t change a thing. What’s trendy for him right now?
“I’m glad that clothes are becoming more androgynous. I know a lot of men who are wearing women’s perfume these days — that started in Europe.”
The favorite current Strip headliner of Marino, who counts Diana Ross, Cher and Madonna among his favorite divas, is Jennifer Lopez, who performs in The Axis at Planet Hollywood.
“Jennifer Lopez — she’s onstage for two hours, sings live and dances in those high heels without a break. And she brought feathered production numbers back.”
And who influences Marino’s style?
“I like to influence others,” he said.
And he has the closet to prove it.