So this episode eggs — er, begs — the question, “Why bother with a Debbie Gibson tribute artist when you already have the real Debbie Gibson?”
The international superstar turned “A Diva-Licious Drag Brunch” upside-down on Super Bowl Sunday at DW Bistro at The Gramercy. “Divas Las Vegas” star and 33-year Las Vegas Strip headliner Frank Marino presented two performances of his drag cast, performing tributes to Lady Gaga, Cher, Katy Perry, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross.
Marino was at the show, but did not himself take the stage. Gibson did, uncorking a full version of her late-1987 hit, “Shake Your Love.”
View this post on Instagram
When the audience thinks you’re introducing a Debbie Gibson impersonator and it’s the REAL Debbie Gibson! This could only happen at Frank Marino’s Diva-Licious Brunch at @dwbistro #LasVegas thank you @debbiegibson for the incredible surprise and supporting our fabulous new show! Top entertainers, top food and top location! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #debbiegibson #dragqueen #popstar #debbiegibson #diva #queen #brunch #food #eat #lgbt #lgbtq #vegas #whathappenshere #divaslasvegas #frankmarino
This was, of course, an unbilled event, even as the backing track for “Shake Your Love” was at the ready. Gibson, who has a home in Las Vegas, attended the first of two performances at 11:30 a.m., at the invitation of KTNV Channel 13 anchor (and my Wednesday morning Midday TV partner) Dayna Roselli. Gibson hung at a table that included the headliner at the 1 Oak nightclub at the Mirage, Matt Goss, one of her closest friends for more than 30-plus years.
Before Gibson could sample any brunch fare, a member of Team Marino approached, asking if she’d say a few words and maybe do a half-minute for the packed restaurant.
View this post on Instagram
Frank Marino’s Diva-Licious Brunch at @dwbistro #LasVegas thank you @mattgoss for supporting our fabulous new show! Top entertainers, top food and top location! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #dragqueen #music #sing #diva #queen #brunch #food #eat #lgbt #lgbtq #vegas #whathappenshere #divaslasvegas #frankmarino
Gibson, instead, ordered off the menu.
“I was like, ‘Oh, you want me to do 30 or 45 seconds?’ ” Gibson answered. “I said, ‘We’ve come this far. I’m wearing sequins. Give me a full song and a live mic.’ ” She hadn’t had a chance to even settle in and had just ordered her breakfast beverage.
“A few sips of my decaf Cafe Americano was all I needed to shake my love!” said Gibson, who fortuitously also wore sparkly heels to this brunch fete. She performed much of the song on tables at the center of the room.
That’s how brunch is in Vegas. One moment, you’re enjoying light convo. The next, Debbie Gibson is grooving next to your mimosa.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) February 4, 2019
“I played Radio City Music Hall 100 years ago and it was the same thing, I jumped up and ran around the venue,” she said. “I have kind of an out-of-body experience when I perform. But it was a fun brunch crowd, there was a long table, so I said, ‘Go for it.’ ”
Gibson is about to hit the road on the “MixTape Tour,” headlined by the full lineup of New Kids on the Block and featuring Gibson along with Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany and Naughty By Nature. The 53-city tour stops at Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 25.
Marino, meantime, is reassembling his “Divas’ cast and has been in ongoing talks with what he terms as “multiple” Strip venues. The “Diva-Liscious Drag Brunch,” an offshoot of his upcoming production, might play quarterly at DW Bistro, given the strong turnout Sunday.
But Gibson’s participation was likely a one-off.
“Afterward, I stayed so long that the second show was about to start,” the pop icon said. “The cast was like, ‘Are you going on again?’ I said, ‘No, I’m only doing a matinee, girls!’ “
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.