Happy Birthday Liza May Minnelli
Happy Birthday Liza May Minnelli
Many of you know that over the years I’ve stepped in for Liza when she wasn’t quite up to it (I’m pretending to down a bottle of champagne as I’m saying that). I gotta tell you it’s not easy impersonating a recovering alcoholic. I used to have to drink a gallon of vodka to get into character but now it’s down to a pint since she’s been sober. People ask me all the time how it is that I, the daughter of a poor fishmonger, became Liza’s go to gal. Usually I say none of your god damned business! However since its Liza’s birthday I’ll let you in on the story.
First let me start by saying that I adore Liza! There is no one on this planet that can work a stage like her. Her performances are always memorable and filled with raw emotion and joy. Her ability to emote and convey feelings in song is something to o one else can do. Liza, much like her mother Judy Garland connects with her audience and wraps her arms around them so you always feel loved. This feeling is given back with love and support from her fans all over the world.
When I was a little girl I wanted to sing like Judy Garland but unfortunately I sound like Jimmy Durante. I would pretend to sing “The Man that got Away” or “Swanee’ for my mama. When I got the chance to step in front of Liza’s voice it was a dream come true. Kids, wouldn’t you want to have that unbridled enthusiasm she hits in her songs “New York, New York” and “Cabaret”. I know I do!
She is an icon and a friend of the GLBTQ community. She has worked tirelessly to raise money for AIDS and many other causes. She is an amazing woman!
Here is the story of how I became Liza’s “stand-in” as I remember it…
It was a hot and steamy day in July. Liza was performing at the Winter Garden. She was a sell out every night. However, one night after a performance the party got wild and Liza went on a bender. She ran off with Burt Reynolds! No one could reach her and she had a matinee to perform. The producers were beside themselves. Instead of canceling the show and getting any bad press they searched high and low for an impersonator.
Lucky me! I had been walking in Times Square and stopped for a chili dog. I was sucking it down when a gentleman grabbed me by my wrist threw me into a stage door and said
“How’d you like to be Liza Minnelli for a few hours?”
“I can’t I have an audition with Saul Sheinbaum for the new Musical Mammy Two Toes”, I said
“Forget about it babe, this is the big time” he started shaking me.
“Liza’s on a bender and we need you to fill in. There is ten grand in it for you if you sit here and listen to the run through of the show. You need to do the best you can to lip sync this show”, he added
I darted for the door when the man said, “I am Bill “Pappy” Lavorgnia and you will do this or I will let everyone know you were about to do an audition for a porn film. Saul went rough trade and is now doing porn. Wake up Lady!” shaking me even harder and slapping me.
“MargOH! Channing will never do porn, well, not for less than ten thousand”, I said telling him to back off while rubbing my now red cheek.
After a stare down I said “Fine I’ll do it but I want twenty grand and if I do a good job I want to be contracted as her full time impersonator for life.“
He reluctantly agreed.
I was thrown into a sequin pantsuit, which was too big if I may add. Pappy couldn’t believe how much I looked like her from forty feet away. That night I was Liza! I was great! I struck Liza hands, throwing in a Fosse, Fosse, Fosse, and more Liza hands. The crowd went wild I got 18 standing ovations… It was a dream.
It’s not the only time she’s used me. The second night of Minnelli on Minnelli was me. I also had that unfortunate performance in Sweden where I fell off the stage. I got docked pay for that…It made the press and youtube! Someone called her Flyza Minnelli. That was one of my gallon vodka nights to try and capture that Liza magic but it went horribly wrong. For my punishment her manager made me watch “Stepping Out” ten times and I was suspended until further notice.
Since then I’ve been closing all of my shows with a Liza medley in hopes of getting back on the Liza beat. I don’t know if it will happen since Ms. Minnelli has been knocking them dead since her return to Broadway in “Liza’s at The Palace”. She has been touring almost constantly since then and how wonderful that is for us. I know I could always use a Liza hug so when she’s performing in New York City I’m there. You should be too!
Love you Liza May!!
PS-If you can’t get to a Liza concert you can now take the “Ride of Fame” Liza Minnelli bus tour around New York City… That sounds like a party…