On any given night, the performer will sift through a dozen famous folks — Joan Crawford, Mae West, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Bette Midler and Cher, to name a few.
What’s the secret to Roberts’ three decades of success as a female impersonator? Determination, high heels, good wigs and “a hell of a lot of lip gloss,” he jokes.
This month, he’s appearing at two locations in The City. He’s doing his lounge act — packed with dazzling visuals and uncanny vocalizations — at the Alcove Theater and teaming with jazz pianist Tammy Hall at Martuni’s.
“I think it’s been a combination of perseverance, a lot of luck,” Robert adds about his showbiz longevity. “I’ve always tried to be a little bit different than everyone else, and I don’t go too far over the line in either direction. I’m not too gross and I am not too white bread. But I teeter on the line. I try to stay as tasteful as possible. Well, I may stretch the definition of taste, but ...”
Born in Norfolk, Va., and raised in Virginia Beach — he’s currently based in Key West, Fla., where he performs regularly — Roberts’ first professional show was back in 1986.
“I was working on one of those harbor cruise ships on the East Coast and we got off the boat in Newport Beach, Fla., and saw a drag show,” he recalls. “Afterward, I walked up to the director and said, ‘I can do that!’ I hung up my apron and put on my heels — and just kept going.
“After a while I realized, ‘Well, I am not going to go back into the theater because I don’t want to be an out-of-work actor waiting on tables.’ So I kept working and here I am.”
IF YOU GO
Randy Roberts Live!
Where: Alcove Theatre, 414 Mason St., fifth floor, S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, closes Nov. 2
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com
Note: Roberts also appears at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 at Martuni’s, 4 Valencia St., S.F.; tickets are $20.