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Gaming Guru

Jerry Fink
 

For Moreno, Star-Crossed Comparisons Are No Drag

4 October 2005

Musician Frankie Moreno isn't a drag queen.

Drag queen Frank Marino isn't a musician.

"I get confused a lot with him because of the name," Frankie Moreno said.

Frankie, 27, performs with his band at Las Vegas Hilton's Shimmmer Cabaret, a gig that has been rocking the room since July.

Frank, 41, is the star of "An Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera, where he has been performing his Joan Rivers schtick for 20 years.

"He actually came in the other night and introduced himself," Frankie Moreno said. "He said that every night people come up to him and ask if he plays the piano.

"I told him every night people ask me if I'm a drag queen."

Frankie Moreno has been making a name for himself since arriving in Las Vegas four years ago.

"A week into it, I got a gig at the Stratosphere," said the native of Santa Cruz, Calif., a laid-back, beachside town noted for its Boardwalk amusement park and the University of California, Santa Cruz campus.

Moreno and his band have stayed busy, performing at the Hard Rock Hotel and the Aladdin.

Moreno, a classically trained pianist, says the band will play any kind of music, but mostly it's a fusion of rock, punk and funk.

"But at the same time, if the fans want to dance, we do all the covers as well," he said. "But with our own spin."

Moreno says they mostly do their own material.

"We do a lot of playing around, spoofing. It's a very fast-moving, high-energy show," he said.

Moreno has had to get used to life away from the beach. He left Santa Cruz for Nashville, Tenn., when he was 18.

"Coming from the beach, it was hard to adapt to Nashville," he said.

After four years he came to Las Vegas, which proved another culture shock.

"In Santa Cruz, the whole point is to be different, unique and original," Moreno said. "In Vegas, it's about dressing the same and performing the same music everywhere."

But he and his band didn't give in to the pressures of Vegas and have continued performing their own style.

"And we have kept getting work," he said.

His band includes his brother Tony, a bassist and vocalist; Rob Eisler, guitarist and vocalist; and Dino Marino, drummer and percussionist. His father, Frank, a guitarist, often sits in with the group at Shimmer.

Moreno, who has his own record label -- Bermuda Records -- has produced five CDs. Another will be released in a couple of months.

They are available at his website, www.frankiemoreno.com.

When they aren't recording or performing at Shimmer, the group plays gigs wherever they can find them.

"We do about 400 shows a year," Moreno said. "That's crazy. It's too much. It's hard, but we like it so much."