Las Vegas is a lot less fabulous now as Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas, a drag revue that opened in 1985, was forced to shut down this week amid a charity scandal.
The production — which featured drag takes on stars like Madonna, Cher, Tina Turner, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga, and starred emcee Marino as Joan Rivers — had its final performance at the Linq Resort and Casino on Tuesday. The show ended with little fanfare, which immediately raised eyebrows. Then a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal indicated the show was being investigated for its charitable activities.
Marino had promised that a portion of proceeds from Divas merchandise would go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, but admitted on Tuesday that "due to my own negligence, Make-A-Wish has not received a check from me for some time."
Caesars Entertainment, owner of the Linq, released the following statement:
“Caesars Entertainment holds itself to the highest standards and given the non-payment of donations to Make-A-Wish by ‘Divas,’ we determined that a relationship with this show was no longer suitable. Upon discovering and fully investigating this issue, we immediately took all appropriate actions in response. Caesars enjoyed a long, mutually successful relationship with the ‘Divas’ production team which it hoped would have continued for many more years and the show’s cancellation is due solely to these circumstances.”
Marino will donate the money owed to Make-A-Wish and says he "offered to substantially increase that many times over."
Marino began the show in the height of the AIDS crisis at the now-imploded Riviera Casino and Resort; the show was then called An Evening at La Cage, in reference to the popular gay-themed French film La Cage aux Folles. The show, renamed Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas, moved to the Imperial Palace in 2010, which was later rebranded as the Linq. Stars like Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, and Shania Twain have all attended the show, according to Marino.
There is hope Divas can return to a different casino or venue in Las Vegas, but it likely won't be at a Caesars-owned property.