Pool designer by day; Little Richard impersonator by night
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - On most days, you'll find Dino Marshall designing a backyard oasis.
"The beauty of it, you have the tranquility running down the stone and also the sound of water," says Marshall.
It's beauty born from a well orchestrated, labor-intensive plan. The job sites are hectic and messy.
"First we do the excavation or the dig, where we dig the hole, get rid of the mud, and get it ready for a swimming pool," he said.
Marshall, who works for Ladner Pools, has been in the business off and on for years.
"I decided to get back into creating pools because it's a creative outlet," he said.
But while building pools is his creative outlet by day, by night he is swimming in creativity and in the spotlight as he impersonates the legendary Little Richard. He says it's an art he has perfected for more than 30 years.
Marshall's music career began in New Orleans when he started a 50s and 60s rock-n-roll show band called the Belairs. He was also in the band "Clutch," which was inducted in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He has played gigs in casinos coast to coast, from Las Vegas to Atlantic City.
Marshall says his show became the number one act at what was then the world's largest casino, the MGM Grand. He says that's when the entertainment director at the MGM lit a fire under him.
"He came to me and said, 'You need to do the king of rock-n-roll. I said, 'Little Richard? He said, 'No, Elvis." I said Elvis is not the king of rock-n-roll and he kinda laughed at me and snubbed me and said, 'As if you can do Little Richard. No one can do Little Richard."
Marshall's impersonation of the rock-n-roll pioneer has kept him busy.
"It's been a lot of fun. It's taken me all over the U.S. and the world," he says. "I've worked for the Republican National Convention, the owner of the Miami Dolphins birthday party, Times Square about 2 years ago and virtually every casino in Las Vegas and Atlantic City."
Marshall calls Little Richard such a dynamic performer and says he just gets his essence. But has says adds comedy to his routine with the touch of a well known comedian named Dom Deloise.
And he's not afraid to push the limit, grabbing men in his audience, even twisting the twirling them around.
"Nobody's going to hit Little Richard, because he's not offensive to anybody. He's effeminate, right?" asks Marshall.
Crowds love the performance.
When he recently performed with the Topcats at St. Edward the Confessor's fair, Jeff Juhas called the show fabulous. He said, "My wife thought he was the real deal. She thought he was the real guy," says Juhas.
Marshall says Little Richard has even recommended him for jobs over the years..
"When Bally's opened here, I had to have Little Richard and the president of the NAACP both send letters. Little Richard always said, get the white boy, get the white boy!" he said.
Today, Marshall does mostly corporate shows and conventions, but he continues to make people smile by day and by night.
"It's a hard life and making people laugh and have a good time, even if only for a little bit, taking their mind off their day, is the biggest reward there is and that's why I do it," Marshall says. "Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!"
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