Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Margarita Pracatan, Campy Cuban Singer Who Found Success Later in Life, Dies at 89

Promoter Chip Duckett shared this touching tribute to his dear friend:

Margarita Pracatan, the Cuban/New York cult singer who found unlikely mainstream success in Europe and Australia, has died. Born June 11, 1931, in Santiago de Cuba, Margarita was the daughter of a schoolteacher and a labor organizer, with seven siblings. When the Cuban Revolution began in the early 1950s her family fled to America. According to Margarita's daughter, Maria Gorshin, Margarita had always dreamed of living in New York (and according to her daughter kept scrapbooks in Cuba while growing up filled with photos of New York). When she arrived in the U.S., she immediately moved to the Upper West Side -- where she lived until her death.

Her first jobs in the city were as a sales associate at B. Altman and at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she quickly became a favorite among Saks' celebrity clientele including Ozzy Osborne and Johnny Carson. But she secretly wanted to be an entertainer herself. Although her musical talents might be best described as "Charo on a bender," she began doing club dates in small New York venues and started her own Manhattan Cable access TV show that began in the late '80s and ran through the mid-2010s.

Some producers of the popular "The Clive James Show" (Channel 4 in the U.K.) were in New York and caught Pracatan's cable show. They immediately booked her on his highly rated show, leading to instant fame in the U.K. and recurring appearances on his show where she performed with Boy George, serenaded Liza Minnelli, and more. Radio DJ Martin Kelner also featured her frequently on his popular BBC Night Network and BBC Radio 2 shows. After that, she became the grand marshal of Gay Pride parades, headlined at major gay nightlife venues including London's G.A.Y., toured Australia, and literally created a riot on the street of Edinburgh, Scotland, during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In New York, she performed at venues including Joe's Pub, the Cutting Room, Fez and the Laurie Beechman Theatre, attracting fans including Joan Rivers, Justin Vivian Bond and Fred Schneider of the B-52s, who wrote an original song for her to perform. In 2019 Pracatan appeared in an episode of "Real Housewives of New York City," performing a cover version of Luann de Lesseps’s “Money Can’t Buy You Class.”

Two weeks ago she celebrated her 89th birthday with friends with a party in the midst of very trying times for New York. The universe will never see the likes of her again. Please celebrate the joy and the laughter and the love Margarita Pracatan gave to the world.


Marc said...

So sad �� was a huge fan after seeing her on the Clive James TV program. Can only discribe her as a BIG shot of colour in a sea of beige.
Glad she was in my life time X

Unknown said...

Everyone should be more Pracataaan ❤

Unknown said...

A true Legend and entertainer who brought smiles to me and millions other RIP

George Lyall said...

Margarita Pracatan. A legend! So many laughs, so much amazingly funny performances, a life very well lived! It was a pleasure! xx