Monday, July 19, 2010

Steve Friess attacked Rich Little twice the weekend before Little's wife committed suicide

In a stunningly unfortunate case of bad timing, it turns out that Las Vegas blogger, New York Times stringer, Gay Vegas author, concert promoter and comp queen Steve Friess published a pair of vicious, politically-motivated attacks on the legendary comic impersonator Rich Little, just days before Little's wife committed suicide.

"The Friesster," who has exerted an influence on Vegas entertainment scene through his many media connections and outlets (not to mention his relationships with Vegas moguls like Steve Wynn), slammed the 71-year-old Little on his Vegas blogsite on Saturday, July 10th, for allegedly referring to gay Congressman Barney Frank as a "queen" in a punchline during a comedy routine the previous evening at the Nevada Republican Party's annual convention.

"It seems like Little wants to make himself
relevant again
by stealing material,
resorting to incredibly simplistic
homophobic humor
and polarizing audiences."

--Steve Friess

The next day, Friess hit again, publishing an accusation from a "reader" who supposedly "attended Rich Little's stand-up performance at The Cannery in North Las Vegas on Saturday night," that Little had "introduced a woman in the audience who he said was the best female impersonator besides for Barney Frank."

Friess also repeated the accusation from the "reader" that "Little's best impression was of Andy Rooney but that the jokes themselves were lifted verbatim from Steven Wright." Despite his reputation for cadging free show tickets, Friess did not attend either performance.

In the Sunday attack, the activist Friesster revealed that his problems with Little may have less to do with the use of a "slur" than with Little's conservative political leanings and contributions to Sean Hannity events.

"Rich Little is an interesting figure because he was called upon in 2007 to perform at the White House Correspondents Dinner the year after Steven Colbert's scorcher embarrassed President Bush. The reviews were brutal but he didn't do much current-event political humor then.

"I'm not one to write off someone just because they're old or they've been out of the public eye for a while... But it seems like Little wants to make himself relevant again by stealing material, resorting to incredibly simplistic homophobic humor and polarizing audiences who aren't expecting to be polarized."

Four days after the broadsides, Little's wife Marie Marotta was found dead in an apparent suicide.

Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday quoted "a friend" saying that Marie's health issues were compounded by "a tough year" for the couple, including "a dropoff in his headliner bookings in the last decade."

While there is no evidence that Friess' screed contributed to the tragedy on Thursday, the postings, which are widely read among Las Vegas' business class, would certainly add to Rich Little's difficulties obtaining future headlining bookings in the city.

As of this posting, Friess has not commented on Rich Little's tragedy.

(Leaving aside a comedian's license to offend-- what of the word "Queen"? In a rare case in which a negative comment on Friess's site has not been censored and removed, a commenter to Friess's posts challenged the activist for holding the "old" Little to the political-correctness expected of young performers. He also questioned Friess' hypocrisy: "In 'Gay Vegas', you say 'there is nothing queer about the Four Queens, except its name'. This makes me see 'Queen' as not being insulting, yet your post about the Barney Frank joke makes me think it may be an insult. So, now I am wondering when it is OK to use 'Queen' and when it is an insult? I am especially afraid that it is never OK to use 'Queen' if the user is not gay."

(Friess responded: "The use of terms/slurs by people who are part of the community or friendly to it is different.")


Anonymous said...

Thanks for you exposure of the Steve Friess. Friess also used to rip Danny Gans to shreds because of his conservative values and Christian beliefs.

Ricky T said...

Rich Little was and still is the GREATEST impersonator of all time. I am also a HUGE Don Rickles fan. They were both in their prime in the 70's. Why doesn't anyone rip Don? Why? Because Rich and Don are two of the greatest entertainers EVER!!!!!

Hey Steve Friess.... GROW UP!!!!!!

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