By Dale Madison
Marvin Nathan is a performer whose time has come over and over again. For nearly 37 years, the multi-talented Nathan has been entertaining people in every medium from live performance to television. As “Cousin Ira” on the hit CBS series “The Nanny” starring Fran Dresher, Nathan came to Cher’s rescue when the legendary performer was trapped in the show’s Sheffield househo¬d following a little cosmetic “touch up.”
To distract her fans and enable Cher to escape from the house, Nathan as “Cousin Ira” impersonated Cher—complete with Bob Mackie gown—in a sidesplitting stroll down the mansion’s grand staircase. Nathan began his entertainment career on July 4, 1976—America’s bicentennial.
“It was the Eight Thousand Resort in Miami, and Dana Manchester put me in drag. It was the most successful show at that time,” he relates. That success led to some professional choices from the newlyminted drag diva. “I decided it was time to move on. My mom was ill in Scottsdale, Arizona. I packed up and started a show in Phoenix, and within six months, we were a huge hit. I had an offer to go to California, so I packed Mom up and we moved.”
In California, Nathan found himself in the center of a bidding war for his talents. “I got an offer from ‘La Cage’ in Hollywood to perform, but I instead chose to go to the [luxury liner] Queen Mary, and I was there for 10 years.” The death of his mother was especially hard. “I was devastated,” the entertainer admits. “She was my best friend.
“Three days after Mom died, I got a call from Norbert Aleman [the legendary producer of ‘La Cage,’ then the world’s preeminent female impersonation show], who wanted me to come to Las Vegas and star in his revue,” says Nathan. “I never auditioned, I was just told ‘Be here for two shows daily.’” It was back on the road for the performer. “I packed up my Cadillac Fleetwood and headed to Vegas. I was at ‘La Cage’ for four years doing my ‘Queensized Cher,’” he says.
Later, Nathan made the TV talk show rounds, appearing on “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Rafael,” “Talk Soup,” “The Man Show,” and many others. After appearing on the island of Cyprus and in Amsterdam, Nathan received a call from a fellow drag entertainer from “La Cage.” “Frank Marino was opening a show in—of all places—Kansas City, Missouri.
So, once again I packed up the gowns and off I went. I became the show director, revamped the show, and it became a huge success. Then I packed up and went to Atlanta. I was there for a year and then I moved back to Fort Lauderdale and took a position at Dudes,” where he performed for a year until a format change by management altered the venue’s entertainment. “I hate when they do that,” he concedes. “But you roll with the punches.”
“Now I am back here and I hope that this is the last move for a LONG while,” Nathan laughs. Back in South Florida on a “permanent” basis, Nathan will be delighting fans old and new with performances on May 21 at “Dancing with the South Florida Stars II” (he is also a judge) benefitting the not-for-profit Brian Neal Fitness and Health Foundation. He will also be on the June 3 Gay Tea Cruise in Fort Lauderdale. Any spot in the world, Nathan’s star still burns brightly.