Legendary French Singer Charles Aznavour Dead At 94

Charles Aznavour (image via Facebook)

The Guardian shares the sad news that legendary French recording artist Charles Aznavoir has passed away at the age of 94.

The French singer Charles Aznavour – often hailed as his country’s Frank Sinatra – has died at the age of 94. Aznavour, who was born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian parents, sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries and had about 1,400 songs to his name, including 1,300 he wrote himself. He was sometimes described as the French Sinatra because of his stirring, melancholic style.

He is one of the most celebrated exponents of the French “chanson” form – easy-listening songs with vivid lyrics, rich in storytelling, emotion and humour. One early song, 1955’s Après l’Amour, was banned on French radio for its depiction of a couple basking in post-coital happiness. 1972’s What Makes a Man A Man, meanwhile, is sung in the persona of a gay man who faces down homophobia to declare: “Nobody has the right to be / The judge of what is right for me.”

For years, “What Makes A Man A Man” closed the show Divas Las Vegas with a dramatic rendition by one of the ‘divas’ reversing her illusion from drag queen to male.

“Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” Sashays Away After 33 Years

Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas closes after 33 years on the Las Vegas Strip
Frank Marino and the cast of Divas Las Vegas

Long before RuPaul’s Drag Race, long before RuPaul, long before drag queens had big TV ratings, if you wanted to experience amazing drag entertainment, you went to Las Vegas where Frank Marino has held court as the Strip’s longest running headliner in his revue, Divas Las Vegas.

Last night, the Sin City entertainment community was stunned to hear the news that Divas has suddenly closed.

Originally opening at the Riviera in 1985 as An Evening at La Cage, the show moved to the then-Imperial Palace (now The Linq) in 2010 and changed the show’s title to Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas.

Fronting the show as “Joan Rivers,” Marino has continually kept a cavalcade of drag queens performing tributes to Tina Turner, Madonna, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Cher and more.

In 2014, Marino celebrated his 25,000th performance with the production.

According the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the decision to close the long-running production was mutual between the show and Caesars Entertainment.

The cast was apparently told this past Tuesday the show would be dark for a few days and then have a cast meeting on Saturday. It was then that the cast and crew were informed the show would not continue.

In a text message, Marino reportedly told the paper, “Like Scarlett O’Hara said, I will think about this tomorrow, tomorrow is yet another day.”

Netflix Set To Slay With Animated Series “Super Drags” – Wigs Will Be Snatched!

Get ready for “Super Drags” from Netflix

I’m not usually one for animated series, nor am I the biggest drag fan, but I find I like most of what Netflix offers so I’m gonna give this a try.

The streaming service shared a teaser video today to announce it’s new animated series, Super Drags.

The five episode-series, scheduled for the second half of 2018, will chronicle the adventures of superhero drag queens.

From the YouTube description: “During the day, they work in a department store and deal with their uptight bitchy boss. By night, they tighten up their corsets and transform into the baddest SUPER DRAGS in town, ready to combat shade and rescue the world’s glitter from the evil villains. Get ready, because the SUPER DRAGS are going deeper than you think.”

Brazilian website CosmoNerd has more details (via Google translation):

“Super Drags is another powerful and proud addition to the diversity of Brazilian originals from Netflix and brings us the adventures of three young people with a super normal life … during the day, Patrick, Donny and Ramon work in a department store. With annoying customers and a picky boss. At night, they release their inner divas to become Lemon Chiffon, Cran’s Sapphire and Crimson Scarlet: three incredibly fabulous Super Drags who have been recruited to gather the LGBT community and spread glitter in the world.”

I wonder if a certain “Super Model of the world” might make an appearance…?

Watch the tease below:

Chatting With Drag Star Berlin Stiller From The CBC Series “Canada’s A Drag”

Berlin Miller

While there’s no Canadian version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, CBC Arts has produced Canada’s a Drag, a new series of short documentaries that sent out filmmakers from communities across Canada to profile a group of drag performers — both kings and queens.

The series began a few weeks ago with Toronto’s Allysin Chaynes followed by Edmonton’s Lourdes the Merry Virgin, Winnipeg with Prairie Sky, Montreal with both Tranie Tronic and Guizo La Nuit, Vancouver with Berlin Stiller, Halifax with Elle Noir and then back to Toronto with Gay Jesus and Sofonda Cox.

I recently got a chance to chat with Vancouver’s Berlin Stiller (who’s episode airs tonight) about the exposure, the power of drag and how its impacted the acclaimed drag queen’s life.

The Randy Report: In that RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought so much attention (and acclaim) to the drag community, do you feel the show has helped the drag community in Canada as well?

Berlin Stiller: RuPaul has definitely had its influence in helping the drag scene at least here in Vancouver.

When I first left home and joined our fabulous gay village, we had really just a handful of queens I can remember.

As the show carried on and its popularity grew, we’ve seen a drag baby boom. Every year you can count on a new crop of barely legal gurls stomping into the clubs, serving it bigger and better than before. We have so much talent in our city and I feel as though Drag Race has played a big part in allowing others to feel confident and comfortable expressing themselves through the art of drag.

TRR: Why do you think there hasn’t been a Canadian version of Drag Race yet?

BS: That’s honestly hard to say. I don’t think there has been much of a platform (on an international level) for drag queens in Canada. I know there are many queens eagerly waiting in hopes of a Canadian spin off. However, I think Canada has a mark to make in Drag culture and when it does, maybe Ru will notice us over here.

TRR: You represent Vancouver in the new CBC series Canada’s A Drag. How was the experience shooting your episode? Have you seen your episode yet?

BS: The experience was honestly nerve wracking. The interview for me was the hardest. I speak about my personal struggles with my family not accepting me as well as my own personal acceptance. My journey into the drag community and my personal struggles with Alcohol and drugs.

I haven’t seen the episode yet but I’m looking forward to seeing it on Friday when it’s released. I’m nervous for my story to be out there in the open for the world. I was pretty open with what I had to say in my interview and fingers crossed, it’s received well.

TRR: Drag brings together so many facets of performing: acting, movement, comedy, fashion and makeup design. What would you like audiences to know about the art of drag?

BS: Drag has so much power, it’s art. It can give you a powerful platform to express what you are feeling, light up people lives, share artistry and to explore your own self.

I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had the opportunity discover myself and grow into the person I am today. Drag has done that for me and can do so or does for so many other people.

It’s not just about looks and beauty – Drag is an overall expression. For me acting, movement, comedy etc, are all smaller facets that help and compliment the deeper meaning of drag and complete the final art piece.

Berlin’s final piece of advice? “Just get through high school and everything will be so much easier. And don’t shave your eye brows off.”

Canada’s a Drag runs every Friday on CBC Arts.

Watch Berlin’s episode of Canada’s A Drag below. You can follow Berlin on Facebook here.