Elvis....Sinatra...Wayne Newton...Barry Manilow:
who is the biggest star in Las Vegas??
(Source: Fletch, Dry Heat The Blog, 15 June 2007)
When people think of crazy music fans, old TV images of girls pulling their hair out at an Elvis Presley concert or fainting at the site of The Beatles come to mind. Then there are Jimmy Buffet's Parrot Heads with their props and costumes that proudly defy interpretation.
Perhaps the most overlooked crazed fan base is the Fanilows, fans of Barry Manilow. Even though Fanilows were 'outed' on an episode of 'Will & Grace,' they still largely remain unrecognized in the shadows of fandom.
Since 2005 when Barry launched his 'Music and Passion' show at the Las Vegas Hilton, Vegas has been Fanilow central. Ironically, the Hilton is the same location Elvis performed in his '70s Vegas heyday when it was known as the International.
Whereas there is a statue commemorating the King of Rock 'n' Roll's appearances there, Barry has the largest hand-painted mural in Vegas celebrating his run in Vegas.
Unless someone has a visible 'Tony Hearts Lola' tattoo, it's hard to spot a Fanilow. There are really no outwardly detectable clues.
Fanilows are not so much into the self-mutilation like the Elvis fans, but are more passionate seemingly borrowing a line from Barry's 'Copacabana' hit: "Music and passion are always in fashion" when it comes to the Fanilows and their love for the Manilow.
Pictured opposite: Barry Manilow hand painted mural at the Las Vegas Hilton
Fanilows tend to be collectors and express their hopeless devotion with Barry-flavored merchandise. You might be a Fanilow if you walk into your living room and you have more than 100 Barrys looking back at you in the form of pillows, blankets, posters and the obligatory bobble head dressed in Barry's signature red velvet jacket.
In fact, you can buy one of four Barry bobbleheads at the Barry Manilow store at the Las Vegas Hilton. Some of the more interesting trinkets to prove your Fanilowness are (pictured below in order) the dog sweater, the baby onsie, the light up fan and the slot machine. You should browse the Barry Manilow online store, there's fragrance, lip balm, dog tags and even Barry wine.
In the Barry vs. Elvis debate it's interesting that Elvis is more associated with Vegas than any other music legend. I know Wayne Newton is Mr. Vegas and my fellow Sintatrians will disagree, but how many Frank Sinatra and Wayne Newton impersonators are marrying couples on Las Vegas Blvd.? If the Fanilows have anything to say about it, Barry will be in Vegas for many years and he will become the Mr. Vegas.
Maybe one day, in the not so distant future, someone that looks like Barry will be ordained as a minister and vested by the State of Nevada to marry couples and then the Fanilows can drive down the Strip in a Barry Manilow themed car and blast "Looks Like We Made It."
On a side note, Sunday, June 17 is Barry Manilow's birthday so Happy Birthday, Barry.