What do theatrically inclined kids, female impersonators, wolves, LA County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Ladavazo, and Judy Tenuta all have in common? They are collectively present symbolically and/or physically at the Friday March 13th “Golden Ticket Show”!
It is a festive night at the fore of the historic Avalon Theatre (formerly The Palace) right across the street from Capitol Records as caring citizens the city over, police officers and their spouses, and all manner of altruistic actors and celebrities aim to alight the red carpet: All this in support of LA County foster youth and families, and in honor of Luc and Stacia Robitaille for their tirelessly related work in conjunction with Cops4 Causes’ “Golden Ticket Show”!
The night’s event, focused on introducing at risk youth to theatre and culture will feature the rousing performance of Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas; an all male, female impersonation act. Their welcome will be additionally warm as it is their first time performing in Los Angeles!
Upon arrival various and sundry folks will cross the red carpet not the least of which will include, Judy Tenuta, Downtown Julie Brown, Dawn Wells (aka Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island), Erin Murphy (Bewitched), Romi Dames (Hannah Montana), Kate Linder of The Young and the Restless, Pauley Perrette of NCIS, and a somewhat late-running host, but in a most adorable sort of way, Christine Devine with her dashing escort for the night in the form of actor and versatile rock musician Sean McNabb. To top all arrivals off: Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox themselves representing the theatrical cop contingent! One of the most arresting red carpet moments however will be the arrival of screen and Broadway star Patricia Morison a few days shy of celebrating her 100th birthday. She looks every bit “like Buttah” with her bright smile, silken skin and auburn hair all her own and will invariably be serenaded by a certain song reminding her of the impending occasion by Kate Linder, Dawn Wells, Pauley Perrette, and Judy Tenuta! It is a true and utter watershed moment.
The ceremony will commence within the auditorium with Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox entering stage left, voicing their support. Estrada will recount a random meeting at a yogurt shop days prior with Deputy Sheriff and leader of the whole shebang Christopher Ladavazo. Upon idle banter at said run-in, Estrada is finally told, “You’re coming with us Friday night,” to an incredulous “What’d I do?” Really; and in the end, all Estrada did was make a name for the police force on his Landmark show “Chips” (then years later succumb to a random yogurt craving)—now this! Estrada and Wilcox both look remarkably handsome and dapper even now and it is clear they have enjoyed going along with the ol’ Sheriff on this hallowed Friday the 13th!
A touching video will be shown surrounding the Dodds; a lesbian couple of eleven years–one of whom is proud to call herself a longstanding member of the LAPD–who adopted their first child John a few years back. The evening’s moderator FOX 11 LA News Anchor Christine Devine will then speak of her ongoing featured program Wednesday’s Child and its mission to assist “hard to place kids; older children, children with disabilities” along with helping said children get into the arts.
The introductory portion of the night would not be complete without a filmed tribute to Luc and Stacia Robitaille and their Echoes of Hope program and it does not disappoint as the cinematic selection features a touching scene of a visit to a wolf sanctuary. Children will pet, consort and bond with the animals the likes of which one usually witnesses in the most therapeutic of settings. Mr. Robitaille will speak and admit that the kids are very quick to call Stacia “Mom” but will modestly add, “It takes a little longer for them to call me Pops.”
As the lights dim even more dramatically than they have thus far, a most smashing and well-put-together “woman” in a red ensemble alights the stage. “Her” conservatively cut outfit gives the appearance of something of a senator’s wife or late 80s talk show hostess.
But once “she” opens her mouth, host, M.C. and maven of all things gossip and guffaw related, Frank Marino as this evening’s Joan Rivers and will regale us between Diva acts with most timely and adept one-liners! All manner of topics will be addressed. She will muse upon a merger betwixt Hooters Restaurant and an airline; “Get [those] orange shirts on airline stewardesses, and more than tray tables will go to their upright positions!” She will discuss Siegfried and Roy and the erstwhile mishap nearly rendering Roy a tiger’s chew toy, “For two gay guys, it’s really dangerous if you’re around all that pussy!” O.J. Simpson will be addressed—but not really, “Any football-turned-Newscaster who killed their wife, why couldn’t it have been Frank Gifford?” And who isn’t still ruminating upon nineties boy bands and all their facades, “Lance Bass?—a member if NSync? What a waste of time to find that he’s really a ‘Backstreet Boy’?”
“They say Viagra makes you blind. Now who are they kidding? You could poke an eye out with that thing!”
“Lorena Bobbitt? Tonight she was in a bad car accident. Apparently, some dick cut HER off!”
All jokes: Flawlessly Joan Rivers, up to an including all the costume changes. Between each Diva’s song Marino will come out in an entirely different color of the rainbow, which is truly apropos considering the tenor of the performance. Upon entering in one of his last dresses rendering him most yellow, he will bravely squawk, “I look like Big Bird, like I’ve got a venereal disease: Chirpies!” Ba dum bump!
The evening’s Divas will include personification of the likes of Madonna singing “Four Minutes” and “Vogue”, Whitney Houston in a rousing re-enactment of “I Want to Dance with Somebody”, Pink intoning “Raise your Glass” and “So What”, Diana Ross and her ever-so-appropriate song, “I’m Coming Out”, Lady Gaga and her appeal to “Just Dance”, Rihanna’s urgency for an “Umbrella” and a very arresting likeness to Dolly Parton eschewing the “9 to 5” lifestyle while we are all fairly certain the performer in question (to speak nothing of Dolly herself) does not have to face that problem ever more. When it comes to breasts I might also add that “Dolly’s” tatas are just as arresting as the real thing if not more so as I cannot figure out if they are, in fact real (in a most fake sort of way) or if they are simply sewn into her dress!!!
As the night’s festivities wind down, I have the privilege of talking to a few significant personages in attendance, not the least of which is LA County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Ladavazo, responsible for putting the whole thing together:
“Inaugural night: You can’t have better people in the room than Christine Divine and Luc and Stacia Robitaille. When you look at people in the community and Los Angeles that are really helping foster you…day in and day out and have them join you on inaugural night for the ‘Golden Ticket Program’ it’s absolutely stunning. Frank Marino, the Divas, they all came out. This is their first time in Los Angeles and bringing the crossroads of all the communities that are represented with the 36000 youth that are currently in our system in DCFS was truly phenomenal and for me. I am humbled.”
Ladavazo goes on to explain his choice of Divas Las Vegas as tonight’s act:
“Quite honestly we looked at the youth that we wanted to serve and it’s represented by 60% Hispanic/Latino/Latinas. There are 26% that are African Americans, [and a] UCLA study came out from the William institute and stated there are 1 in 5 kids in youth in our system that identify as LGBT and so tonight we brought together the best of all of those worlds, fire, police, veterans, active duty, gay, straight, black, and white it doesn’t matter. What we truly want to focus on is creating amazing homes for the 500 youth that are waiting to just be loved in L.A. County.”
Dawn Wells is unwavering in her support for the LAPD as well as the night’s cause:
“I was born and raised in Nevada and female impersonators are fascinating to me [along with] what this organization is doing. We forget they’re policemen. We forget their families, we forget what we owe to the community for protecting us. And right now it’s tough; [regarding] Ferguson and all that. I think we need to be more supportive of what’s going on around us. That’s why I’m here.”
Kate Linder, unwavering in her belief in theatre and the arts as a therapeutic outlet had this to say:
“Cops4Causes is an amazing organization and this evening…to raise money to help foster youth be introduced to theatre and be able to attend theatre…it’s just great… I was fortunate enough that my parents introduced me and of course that’s what I ended up doing. I always wanted to be an actress so, for these children that wouldn’t have any opportunity any other way, I think it’s just great and it’s so beneficial to them and I’m happy to be here and support them.”
While Mary Jo Catlett was definitively here for the kids, she was equally supportive of the Divas along with any and all fabric supporting them:
“I can’t get over how those ladies–they really are, they are absolutely believable ladies–how they work; and the one that kept changing an outfit every time she came out, oh I can’t tell you how I admire that! ‘Cause I know a little about quick changes. It’s a lot of work back there!”
And Judy Tenuta of course was nuthin’ but funny, particularly as her voice rose to high-pitched yet strained proportions as she mentioned the male contingent of the female impersonation act:
“Oh I thought it was a fantastic show. It couldn’t be better. I loved it! Frank was wonderful. Every single one of the queens was great. And it was for a great cause. The children being exposed to theatre; very important, you know. I think I have to adopt. Is it too late for me to adopt? I want to adopt the dancers okay? They’re so hot those dancers!”
For more information, on Cops4Causes and Echoes of Hope please visit: