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Provincetown :: Sunday, April 23rd 2017

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Interview with Randy Roberts

July 26th, 2011

I remember the year that a baker’s dozen of drag queens did Cher numbers along Commercial Street in Provincetown. They waved from scooters at folks having dinner and walked the streets with flyers for their next show. People would say, “There goes Cher. Uh, there she goes again.” One performer stood out among the razor-sharp black wigs and sparkly dresses: Randy Roberts. Sassy, sensational and extremely professional, I couldn’t wait to talk about his life and work.

I had a bunch of drag sisters, not a mother. We all learned by the seat of our pants, or should I say, the elastic of our girdles.

Q: When did you first set foot in Provincetown? Was it in heels?

A: In 1985, I had taken a break from drag and even grew a moustache! (That didn’t last long.) My job was to open the ship, Spirit of Boston, where I set up the office, was head waiter (no comment) and assistant restaurant manager on board. Some friends invited me to go to Cape Cod with them for a night or two. I LOVED IT! Sitting in Gert’s show at the Pilgrim House all those years ago, I had no idea that I’d be back doing my own show.

Q: Who came first: Bette Midler, Cher or Joan Rivers in your flawless repertoire?

A: Joan was first in the late Eighties. I always say that I’m not doing her but one of the ladies who played Mah Jong with my mother. My first “Joan” was at the Riviera in Vegas as the emcee of “An Evening at La Cage”. Cher came next, mostly as a fluke. I was at the Stardust, standing behind a scrim, pretending that I was the star of this show, as Cher, while he did a quick change in the middle of the number. So I started playing with the makeup and broke out my own interpretation of her in Vegas, lip-synching.

When I moved to Key West, I went live as Cher and the rest is history. Check out my video of the “The Way of Love” with a symphony orchestra on YouTube. Amazing!

[Interviewer’s Note: It really is.]

Q: “A Little More Mascara”, the music video, shows off your formidable talent in acting and singing. Was there formal training or did you learn from a drag mother?

A: Thank you! I’m very proud of that video. The whole idea came together very quickly and I loved the process. As for formal training, I spent half the day in high school in a repertory company learning stage craft, making for a great senior year. I had a bunch of drag sisters, not a mother. We all learned by the seat of our pants, or should I say, the elastic of our girdles.

Q: People rave, rave, rave(!) about your show.

A: You can see “Randy Roberts LIVE” Thursday through Sunday, 8:30 p.m. at the ArtHouse on Commercial Street. This year, I’m bringing in Carol Channing, Lady Gaga and of course, a fabulous Cher.

Q: How do you relax and restore?

A: Large amounts of vodka. Actually, my routine is the same almost every day. Breakfast, gym, smoothie, then hit the bike trails, early dinner, theater at 5:00p.m. [So, that’s how he keeps his figure!] Nights off, I go to dinner with friends at Front Street – love that place.

I spend winters in Key West performing in the Crystal Room at La Te Da, a gorgeous cabaret, built just for me in 2001. Also, I tour the country. My schedule is on www.randyroberts.net. Think of Aqua Net and you’ll never forget.

Columnist [Notes from Land’s End] Laura Shabott loves to write about the people that she admires in her beloved Provincetown. She is attending the Fine Arts Work Center this summer through their outer cape resident’s scholarship program.

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