When you encounter Kathy Cornelius or Georgia Yeager at a Frankie Moreno show, be sure to hold out your wrist.
You’ll walk away with a new, colorfully threaded, friendship bracelet.
Cornelius and Yeager are the co-presidents, co-founders and co-pilots of the Frankie Moreno Fan Club, launched in February to support the longtime Las Vegas headliner.
Aside from their interest in Moreno, who has amassed a strong following in his 16-year career playing all variety of venues in Las Vegas, the two might seem to have little in common. Cornelius is a retired sales executive for NuKote, a now-defunct computer toner company. She also spent four years in sales for Bic, working from her home in Portland, Oregon.
Yeager is a retired shift manager from Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. In a piece of pure serendipity, Yeager’s son designs the lighting for the New York Pops orchestra, which backed Moreno’s performance at Carnegie Hall in April 2015. Yeager and her husband, Terry, see at least one show every year at Carnegie Hall. In 2015, that show was the Frank Sinatra tribute in which Moreno was a guest star.
“I was watching him and saying, ‘I have got to see him when we get back to Las Vegas,’ ” Yeager says. “It was entirely coincidental.”
The randomness of this course of events makes sense if you’ve followed Moreno’s career, which this weekend took him to the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for two shows. Moreno is forever talking about organic growth — chance meetings leading to fulfilling opportunities — and the Frankie Moreno Fan Club is exactly that.
He had nothing to do with the original idea, which was hatched at the unlikely outpost of Osaka Japanese Cuisine on Lake Mead Boulevard a little more than a year ago.
“He was doing one of these meet-and-greet shows, and Kathy and I happened to both be there, and we said, ‘Why doesn’t this guy have a fan club,’ ” Yeager says.
“So we went up to Frankie afterward and said, ‘What do you think about starting a fan club?’ ” Cornelius says.
Moreno’s response: “Sure!”
The group swiftly started coming up with ideas for corralling attendees of Moreno’s shows, collecting their contact information (email addresses preferably) and consolidating their interest in the popular showman. On a busy night, they’ll sign up 80 new members.
There are no dues for the fan club, which formally launched in February. About 2,500 fans have signed up to receive email blasts about Moreno’s upcoming shows. His latest bookings and CD releases (including his most recent live album) are posted at FrankieMorenoFanClub.com.
Cornelius and Yeager give out the bracelets — the kind Moreno has worn since his days growing up in Santa Cruz, California — and sell CDs and T-shirts at the entrance of his shows. Fan club members also tote lighted signs reading “Frankie Moreno” and “YOUR BIGGEST FAN” (one of his songs), “FM ARMY,” “MAKE SOME NOISE” and “BEST SHOW IN VEGAS” to his performances.
But not all of Moreno’s venues have been sign-friendly. Fan club members don’t bring signs to Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, concerned they would be turned away at the door. Strict front-of-house policies at Suncoast Showroom, where Moreno performed last weekend, forbid any signs from being raised.
The fan club will have better luck at Michael Gaughan’s South Point Showroom, where tickets for upcoming dates in October go on sale Thursday. That venue will allow the frivolity that makes a Moreno show a great hang.
“It’s been amazing, and they are such wonderful people,” Moreno says. “We need more fans like them to support artists in Las Vegas.”
Cornelius says, “We’re just trying to give some structure and momentum to someone who really deserves it. He’s just amazing.”
Her partner-in-fandom concurs. “I’m not normally this way, but I’ve never felt so strongly about an entertainer,” Yeager says. “Everyone around the country should know about him.”