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It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. This truth, sorta/kinda sets the stage for Mary Flowers Entertainment’s latest edition of FABULOUS FAKES, a female impersonator extravaganza, a dragutainment, inspired by uber divas such as Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, Patti LaBelle, Pearl Bailey, Joan Rivers, Dolly Parton, Grace Jones, Bette Midler Cher and Whitney Houston, who perform together at   at  Harlem’s Apollo Theater, on Saturday, April 28 at 7 pm.  A Vegas-style pageant of music, song, dance, illusion, and voguing, FABULOUS FAKES is equal parts “Jewel Box Revue,” “La Cage Aux Folles,” and “Paris Is Burning.”  

Harlem born and bred, Mary Flowers, best known as a public accountant, was hired in the mid 80s as controller of the Apollo Theater, then a division of the iconic Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which was headed by Percy Sutton. Her ICBC employment was life altering! Not only was she numbers crunching and eyeing Apollo bottom line figures, but she was thrown headlong into the infectious, chaotic world that was entertainment, hiring acts, and developing show concepts.  Flowers recalls.  “I cut my teeth in entertainment by maintaining a sharp ear and eye for talent; studying music and Black pop culture trends, age demographics, networking and attending my first Jack The Rapper Annual Convention in Atlanta.” 

Flowers entered  the music world when the industry was undergoing sea changes brought on by the arrival of HIPHOP/RAP phenom, to be sure the dawning of a new era. For Flowers, her life was all adrenalin rushes and teachable, profitable moments.

As Apollo controller and talent hunter, Flowers  would book acts like Gladys Knight, BB King, Millie Jackson and Gerald LeVert.  She launched her own production career by assembling a group of rappers, Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie, and billed them as the Juice Crew All Stars. Black rappers at that time were shut out of downtown NY venues. Flowers filled a gap, by accessing the rappers to the Apollo, which ultimately was highly lucrative---and the artists got Apollo boasting rights.   “I wore many hats during the years that I worked for the Apollo and then the Apollo Foundation.” 

Her entertainment creds are encyclopedic. She served as music talent executive for the APOLLO COMEDY HOUR, a syndicated TV show;  the CARIBBEAN MUSIC AWARDS, held initially at the Apollo then in Barbados; and for the successful crossover show,  IT’S SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO, which was produced by Inner City Broadcasting for eight years, through 2003.

“In 1995, Mary Flowers Entertainment (MFE) was officially born,” she enthuses. “It focuses on the production, promotion and packaging of music talent across a variety of entertainment platforms.”  Flowers says: “In 1991, a friend invited me to a movie, PARIS IS BURNING, a documentary which chronicles NYC drag ball culture and its African Americans, Latinos, gay and transgender denizens and voguing.” Mary left the film intrigued, wondering how she could translate it for one of her  future shows. She recalls:  “I talked to some gay entertainer friends who helped me crystallize a scheme and that is how FABULOUS FAKES, a term that I coined, came to life, at the Apollo in 1991.”  The 2012 FABULOUS FAKES is its fourth incarnation to the Apollo, where a cast of characters of 10 talented performers will strut their stuff,  bringing the LOGO network brand and Ru Paul’s show, up, close and personal!  Hosted by comedian Flame Monroe, and coordinated by April Summers, FABULOUS FAKES brings back the sumptuous glamour of drag queen  theater, its over-the-top talent and haute couture  and ambiance back to the Village of Harlem.

For history buffs, FABULOUS FAKES is a new edition of  the Jewel Box Revue, a drag-queen extravaganza which was presented at the Apollo Theater during its 50s glory days. Billed as an event with femme impersonators and one woman, Stormy, the Jewel Box was great theater titillation and a touch of whodonit.  The audience knew who the showgirls/impersonators were. The mystery was Stormy, awash in male drag, the show’s master of ceremonies.

Tickets are available -  $30 to $60 - at the Apollo Theater boxoffice,  located at 253 West 125 Street or by calling ticketmaster at 800.745.3000

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