Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

!Arriba! Las Vegas: Charo Isn't Just a Template for Drag Queens Everywhere-Her Splashy New Vegas Show Also Reveals Her Classical Guitar Chops. (Arts & Entertainment)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

!Arriba! Las Vegas: Charo Isn't Just a Template for Drag Queens Everywhere-Her Splashy New Vegas Show Also Reveals Her Classical Guitar Chops. (Arts & Entertainment)

Article excerpt

"Liberace was my friend, and out of the blue he would send me jewelry." These are the cheery words of Charo, who is still around and hasn't aged a bit since her bubbleheaded stint as the bust-shimmying, hip-churning cuchi-cuchi girl on the old Hollywood Squares 30-some-odd years ago. Working with gay colleague Paul Lynde on that show ("the most funny, hysterical person I ever met"), she had an inkling back then that she would have an afterlife somewhere over the rainbow.

Upbeat, she flaunts the fact that in New York her "gay following surpasses even Cher!" and says that at Sydney's annual Mardi Gras parade "you can see hundreds of Charos walking down the street." Nowadays, while women her age (61) are getting hip replacements, Charo can be found strutting her stuff in her new show at the Sahara in Las Vegas, Charo Starring in Bravo. Her accent remains, as does her vitality and sex appeal.

This show is something else. Unlike high-tech, splashy spectaculars like Cirque du Soleil's O, Charo brings back the old variety format, with its kaleidoscopic lineup of stand-up comedy, trapeze artists, ventriloquists, jugglers, and big dance numbers. Remarkably, though, the show carefully builds up to its resounding grand finale: Charo playing classical guitar. This brings the house down.

"I make people laugh--great!--and make people dance and sing with me--great!" says Charo. "But when I play beautiful concertos on my guitar, the audience cries." Unbelievably, Charo began her career as a guitarist in a Catholic convent in Spain. In fact, that's how she was discovered by legendary Latin band leader Xavier Cugat, who immediately brought the 16-year-old bombshell to the States after seeing her perform on television with Andres Segovia, considered the father of classical guitar. …

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