Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keeping It Real!

"In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked upon as something shocking, but now heaven knows, ANYTHING GOES"
by Cole Porter
Copyright 1934 (Renewed) WB Music Corp. (ASCAP)
All Rights Reserved.

I had so much fun writing yesterday about some of my favorite "impersonators" and tribute artists. I got so much positive feedback that I am going to continue today with that theme. I came to NY, in '79, to be an actor. If anyone had told me that my career path would take the direction that it did, I would have thought they were crazy. I would sing at parties, and open mics, and piano bars as Carol Channing and Judy Garland, but I never thought of pursuing it as a career.
(Cast of BELIEVE! Currently at Resorts in Atlantic City. See below)
In 1989, I went on a vacation to Provincetown, my first time there. One night, we went to The Crown and Anchor and I saw, for the first time, Jimmy James. I felt that I was actually seeing Marilyn Monroe. It blew me away! Second act was his flawless vocals as other artists. I had this dream of performing in Provincetown...Be careful what you set your heart upon...I have been fortunate enough to perform in Provincetown, both good and bad. I still perform as Carol Channing but am not pursuing those gigs as other areas of my life. But one thing has not changed, my awe of Jimmy James!

"This is one of my favorite TV appearances.
When the producers of the local Boston TV show called me in NYC, I was very exhausted from touring. I told them I would do the show only if I could do it NUDE. There was silence on the phone but I explained it to them and they got it ok'd. I told them the only thing I was bringing to wear would be nude Ferragamo pumps. I don't know if MM ever sang this song, I took artistic license." Jimmy James

oneandmanyjimmyjamesFemale Impersonators, The Sally Jessy Raphael Show!

Another one of my favorite impressionists is Louise DuArt.Louise DuArt, often called one of the world's greatest comedic-impressionists, continues to astonish critics and audiences alike with her dead-on impressions of America's most famous people. With a unique talent for replicating celebrities in fun-loving style, Louise can carry-on animated fast-moving conversations between Bette Davis,
Joan Rivers, Edith Bunker, Barbra Streisand, Whoopie Goldberg, Judge Judy, and a few dozen others, all at the same time. As her husband says, "I never know who I'm waking up next to."Currently Louise DuArt is starring with Tim Conway and Friends in the box office smash touring the nation, recreating classic sketches from television’s Carol Burnett Show. During the last decade she costarred with Tim Conway and the late Harvey Korman in the hit show Together Again.Louise hosted the popular talk show Living The Life, every morning on ABC Family Channel, for eight seasons, while her previous series Café DuArt, was hailed as one of cable television's most innovative comedy-variety programs.
On Broadway, Louise has received critical acclaim for her starring roles in the long-running hit Catskills On Broadway, in the comedy/musical Dreamstuff, and as Bette Davis in Me & Jezebel.Louise also shares the stage for An Evening of Inspiration and Comedy with her husband SQuire Rushnell, speaker and best-selling author of the When GOD Winks books. The couple recently co-authored a break-through book, Couples Who Pray: The Most Intimate Act Between A Man And A Woman. She and her husband live in New York City and on Martha’s Vineyard.(Louise and Squire)
"You really believe she is Cher, welcoming the birth of her next boyfriend, until she transforms, in a blink of an eye, to George Burns, touchingly talking to Gracie from heaven"
"There's something indescribable about her ability to change voice and face... a gorgeous oddness that comes along once in a blue moon"
The Village Voice(Louise DuArt as Cher with Jim Caruso)

Yesterday, I wrote about meeting Sharon Daniels at Fil Jessee's IGCITA(International Guild of Celebrity and Tribute Artists)Convention. I also met the late great Bea Fogelman at that convention. In her '80s, Bea was a dynamo. I miss the conversations we had over the phone and her invaluable insight. We didn't agree on everything but her love and support of the tribute artist industry and her undying support will NEVER be matched!Not only did she create THE NETWORK, a source for tribute artists to be in the loop and support each other, but she also created one of my favorite tribute artists, the SENSATIONAL Sherie Rae Parker!Sherie doesnt impersonate Bette Midler, she IS Bette Midler! Sherrie is probably one of the hardest working women in the business. I have seen her perform as Phyllis Diller, Janis Joplin, and Bette Midler. It's funny how in your mind's eye, things can somehow get distorted. I feel as if I have actually seen these incredible entertainers perform live because of my memories of Sherie. Born in Detroit, and raised in the San Fernando Valley, her education centered on her music, songwriting, drama, dance, guitar, voice and the arts. She studied at Dick Grove Music Workshops as well as Pierce College, CSUN and Clark County Community College in Las Vegas.
By the time she was 14, she sang her first professional recording for Screen Gems… “I Didn’t Know The World Would End This Way” was the title…but her life and career were just beginning. At 15 she formed her own band and they played the club circuit around the LA area for 10 years.

At 18, Sherie earned her private pilot’s license and worked at Van Nuys airport renting out airplanes. Parents Bea and Leo bought an airplane and the whole family started flying!
Sherie is currently in Berlin now performing as Bette in Stars in Concert until June 27th, 5 shows a week!

Yesterday, I wrote about Electra. I appeared with Electra a hundred years ago at The Limelight. We did two shows there. One hosted by Gary Dee. The other hosted by Michael Musto.Well, Electra contacted me to tell me that he is going to be starring in Atlantic City this summer in a show called BELIEVE! I was thrilled to see that so many of the guys that I've worked together over the years, including Gary Dee, are in this show!Gary and I last saw each other two years ago when we were both booked for a private party in Aspen! Wow, what a gig that was! The "birthday girl" pulled out the stops for her birthday with a LaCage theme taking over an entire restaurant complete with a pink carpet for the guests to walk down on their way into the restaurant. Here is Gary Dee with the REAL Joan Collins:Imagine you are transported to the beautiful Island of Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles and to The Royal Cabaña Casino. A few years ago, you would have found in The Tropicana Show Room, one of the best female impersonator shows around, the latest production of The Jewel Box Revue. Gary Dee was the Star and emcee of the show as he portrayed his incomparable Joan Rivers character. He performs "live" which is becoming rare among impersonators/tribute artists. Joan Rivers pronounced him her best female impersonator as they shared a limo ride in New York City. Gary has a remarkable wardrobe by famous designers that adds great appeal to his act. Ladies and gentleman of Cyberspace, I proudly present to you, Mr. Gary Dee! "Gary, Can We Talk?" Born and raised in Lodi, New Jersey, 30 min. from NYC. Gary studied acting in New York and worked with improvisational comedy.

I pulled the following from info I found on the internet about BELIEVE!
Believe: Diva's In A Man's World was amazing!
Resorts AC

"This is a MUST SEE show! My partner and our parents were there opening night and it was a flawless show! I have seen many impersonator shows in my time. This is by far the most entertaining and professional of them all. The production value was Broadway and Vegas.....bringing that caliber of entertainment to Resorts Atlantic City is monumental. The costumes that Steven Andrade as Cher wore were exact replicas of the greatest ones Bob Mackie has designed for Cher herself.
I also understand Steven Makes all his Cher costumes himself by hand. Amazing!
The entire cast was incredible as well, Gary Dee as Joan Rivers, Frank Moore as Prince, Eddie Summers as Patti Labelle, Phyl Craig as the legendary Liza Minnelli and of course Jimmy Electra as the Divine Miss M herself Bette Midler!
Get your tickets now....... a show not to be missed!!!
Date: Opened May 5 playing Thursday at 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.
For an extended run.


Another great entertainer is Michael Holmes who has been performing his critically acclaimed "THE JUDY SHOW" all over the country. My dear friends, Claudia and Joel Sussman went to Michael's show Sunday night in Palm Springs and raved about it.Here is Claudia's direct quote to Michael...

"THANKS HONEY. WE LOVED YOUR SHOW DARLIN'.YOU LOOKED GORGEOUS AND SANG FANTASTICALLY AS JUDY. YOU WERE A REAL "PISSER."WE WERE LAUGHING SO MUCH TONIGHT. A PERFECT WAY TO END OUR ANNIVERSARY DAY OF CELEBRATION. THANKS FOR A GREAT GREAT SHOW TONIGHT MICHAEL XOXOXOXO..MANY WARM HUGS..."Michael will be headlining from June 16 through Labor Day, Thursday through Monday, at The Front Porch in Ogunquit, Maine with the exception of July 7-20 when he will be performing both in The Judy Show and as himself in cabaret in Europe and the RSVP Cruise out of Barcelona July 9-16 . He is also in the process of recording The Judy Show CD as well as a new jazz standard CD.Michael is playing at Azul in Palm Springs Sunday, May 22 & 29 (final show for the season).www.azultapaslounge.comMichael Holmes is a regular entertainer on stages throughout the country best known for his wildly popular creation

The Judy Show!

Michael Holmes has been producing and performing The Judy Show! for ten years, entertaining audiences from Maui to Manhattan, across the seas to Europe, and all with rave reviews!
“What do you get when you mix an internationally acclaimed impersonator, outrageous comedy, great standards and a bevy of icons? The hysterical parody of Judy Garland and her guests found in Michael Holmes’ all new “The Judy Show!”
Encore Magazine( This picture is with Jimmy Rooney (Mickey's son) and unidentified lady who have totally endorsed The Judy Show!)
Michael Holmes is well known as one of the country’s most sought after impersonator-comedians and cabaret performers appearing from Maui to Manhattan and everywhere in between. Called “Don Rickles in drag,” Holmes impressions of famous divas are dead on and hysterical in his self produced production of “The Judy Show” in which he appears as Judy Garland and all of her guests. With a wide vocal range, explosive comedy and a killer wardrobe, Holmes has risen to the top of his profession impersonating Bette Davis, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Peggy Lee, Mae West, Billie Holiday, Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead and more.(The picture with Carol was from her benefit at Azul in PS where Michael opened the show singing "You Made Me love You," to her. She had just had eye surgery therefore no eye make-up.)
What you may not know is that Michael is also an award winning jazz vocalist and cabaret artist who has two critically acclaimed CD’s with his band, The Michael Holmes Trio. While swinging the standards of the Great American Songbook hints of Frank Sinatra are present and pleasantly mixed with Michael’s new and refreshing interpretations to keep it interesting. He obviously loves what he does and it shows in every note.(This picture is with Caren Marsh-Doll on her 92nd BDay. She was Judy's stand-in for the Wizard of Oz and life long friend of Judy Garland and now a friend of Michael's and true beauty!)
Originally from Chicago, Michael is now a full time resident of Palm Springs where he performs “The Judy Show!” at Azul, one of Palm Springs most popular clubs. Michael teams up with renowned Palm Springs musical director Joel Baker. While having played many prestigious venues in cities including New York, London, LA, Chicago, Boston, Winston-Salem, Lexington, Indianapolis and Palm Springs. Given the opportunity Michael has decided being bi is a more suitable lifestyle for him. Bi-coastal that is. While playing the Desert and West Coast during the winter months Michael spends his summers on the East Coast in the beautiful gay resort town of Ogunquit, Maine, headlining the famed nightclub The Front Porch.
Order Michae's CD through CD BABY:

Here is another review of me from the archives:
Richard Skipper As "Carol Channing"...

Anyone who's seen Carol Channing in one of her recent appearances -- say, at the Kennedy Center Honors -- knows that she's remarkably spry for an almost-90-year-old. But she's even more dynamic at St. Luke's Theatre, where she's doing a one-woman show. Well, not really. Performing "Richard Skipper as 'Carol Channing' in Concert" is Richard Skipper, a veteran cabaret star who's made a career of impersonating her.
This is essentially a glorified cabaret act, but it's also an affectionate, terrifically entertaining portrait. "I am real -- I'm not a hologram," declares Skipper, who, while heftier than the woman he portrays, looks remarkably like her -- helped, of course, by the red sequined gown, platinum wig and red lipstick. He hooks us from "Hello, Dolly!" on, capturing both Channing's vocal inflections and superb comic timing. Accompanied by a first-rate, three-piece band he performs such trademark numbers as "I'm Just a Little Girl From Little Rock," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." But it's in his running commentary and improvisations that Skipper truly captures Channing's wittily deadpan persona. Whether describing her late-in-life reunion with her first love or bantering with the audience, his "Carol" is as warmly engaging as the real thing.
"Backed by a lively three-piece band, celebrated cabaret star Richard Skipper reverently channels the Hello, Dolly! legend, beautifully crooning Channing classics and effortlessly ad-libbing with the audience as an expert on Channing’s career. Far from campy drag-show caricature, Skipper’s impersonation makes it easy to forget that he isn’t really her."

All you have to do today is bask in the LOVE and talent that surrounds you!

(Go see BELIEVE! Currently at Resorts in Atlantic City!)

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME...the first three suggestions I receive!

Richard Skipper,


  1. Richard thank you for writing this wonderful and insightful blog. Just before I read this< I was writing in my journal about gratitude for the blessings in my life which have come from doing celebrity impersonations and even asked for a"sign" from above re: my career and here it is your wonderful email. You are an angel of inspiration! Much love to you! ~ Michele Marzano

  2. Wow! You just made my day! THIS makes it ALL worthwhile! Richard Skipper