Friday, May 01, 2009

the smallest superstar

Danny Gans is dead. You've never heard of him, but in Las Vegas he was supernova famous. Step one foot outside Las Vegas and no one knew who he was.

But in Las Vegas, his omni-present name was on billboards, taxicab placards, buildings and huge electric signs. He was an impersonator, the famous "Man of Many Voices" that no one outside of Las Vegas had ever heard of.

I'm imagining a deal with Mephistopheles: "Sign here please, and you'll be the most famous person in the world... but your world will be only about three square miles."

I only know about him because in 2001 I went to a wedding in Las Vegas where my nephew married one of his assistants . She hated the job, complained about having to work many extra hours for no extra pay, but wouldn't quit it to try anything else.

Danny Gans' wedding gift to the newlyweds was going to be to treat the entire wedding party to a performance of his show (in the "Danny Gans Theater") on the one night of the week he didn't normally schedule one. But then at the last minute he decided he didn't want to do a free show and sold all the seats to a tour group. So I never got to see Danny Gans or hear his many voices.

Maybe he was actually a great guy, but he put a few more stakes into an already disastrous wedding. The bride had lined up five of her dearest, lifelong friends for bridesmaids, but in the weeks after 9/11 they all refused to fly to Las Vegas for the wedding. I haven't decided if it was worse to be too afraid to fly or worse to just claim that as a convenient excuse to blow off the wedding, but check one of those boxes.

The flight home generated another odd story.

In closing, I salute the late, great, Danny Gans, the (within the confines of the Las Vegas strip) superstar who touched my life in the most indirect way possible.

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