People often say that you shouldn't kick a man when he's down. But it's hard to resist when the person in question is ventriloquist Terry Fator. Once the jewel in The Mirage's entertainment crown, this walking tabloid article tumbled so hard and so fast that he was asked to leave the property. Even his Terry Fator store was replaced by a shop that sold Kim Kardashian's nasty-ass underwear. Refusing to admit defeat and fade off into memory, the controversial
mouthpiece "Man of a Thousand Voices" vowed to return and rise again. Sound like anyone you know?
Fator managed to secure a holiday gig last year inside the former Zumanity Theater of New York NY. The news didn't sit well with Christoper Kenny, creator of "Edie", Zumanity's host for more than a decade. You see, through his Mirage residency Fator earned a well-documented reputation for being a homophobe, misogynist and bigot. That's the polar opposite of CIrque du Soleil's "Love Is Love" adult fantasy production. Here's Kenney's politically charged reaction on 5/17/21:
"Terry Fator on the beautiful ZUMANITY stage is a crime scene. It’s so unbelievably sad. Big mistake! I have moved on but this photo is too sad. A Trump-loving republican should not be on that sex-driven liberal stage."
Kenney's husband Jamie Morris, also a seasoned entertainer, posted this to his public social media on 11/19/20:
"ZUMANITY replaced by Terry Fator?! TERRY. FATOR. Let that sink in. Wow. Just wow. People still buy tickets to this mediocre, outdated, misogynistic, homophobic shit?! Isn’t Branson looking for a show? They’d love to watch their fellow Trumper throw his voice. "
This isn't a political piece, nor will I allow it to devolve into one, but it must be stated for the record that prior to his ouster from The Mirage, Fator was pressured in 2019 into removing his Trump puppet from their stage. His original statement to Las Vegas Review-Journal on 12/1/19 was this:
“It was kind of one of those things where the Mirage came to me, and they have never told me what to do, ever. But they asked politely, and when they ask politely, I do it. We have a good relationship. It’s a give and take. I’m not a diva. I’m not going to go off and say, ‘Screw you’ when they ask me to do something. But they said, ‘This political season is very, very, very rough and it’s going to get nastier. Would you mind?’ I said, ‘Fine, I’ll do it.’
In a perfect display of questionable ethics, Fator later backpedaled and unleashed a torrent of "alternative facts", taking credit for the decision:
“The Mirage never asked me to remove the Trump puppet from my show, however I did so a few months ago in my ever-evolving changes to my show. Based on various feedback I received, I decided removing any overtones of politics from the show including the Trump character for the next year made the most sense.”
During his period on America's Got Talent in 2007, Terry Fator portrayed himself as a good-natured underdog pursuing the all-American dream. His puppets were sweet and appealed to audiences of all ages. Viewers took to lovable characters like Winston the Turtle, Etta James-channeling "Emma Taylor", and Dean Martin crooner "Johnny Vegas". Once he actually reached the Vegas stage, however, Fator unleashed decidedly non-family fare like sex-crazed cougar "Vikki", drug addict "Duggie", Latino misogynist "Fernando V. Francisco" and flamboyant gay stereotype "Berry Fabulous".
Audiences expecting Fator's wholesome mixture of comedy and music were understandably confused...sometimes angered....at the shocking shift in tone. Thanks to Fator's meteoric rise and all of the B.S. that wealth and stardom bring, management suddenly had plenty to deal with. Fator's eyebrow-raising personal life certainly didn't help. Along with enraged parents and other audience members, there were firings, lawsuits, accusations, two divorces, and other TMZ-worthy drama.
"Fator dumped Melinda (wife #1) just as his Mirage residency began and wed his 22-year-old onstage assistant the day after his divorce was finalized in November 2010. In doing so, he seemed to be a walking show-biz cliché, the one in which a new celebrity trades the spouse who stood by in the fallow years for a younger and previously unattainable model.' - Las Vegas Weekly 5/24/11
After several years of controversy and complaints about offensive show content, Gary Costa could stand no more. Gary is the Executive Director of LGBTQ/AIDS charity Golden Rainbow. He sent a letter to protest the show’s slandering of minorities and gays:
"A few months ago I attended this offensive show at The Mirage Hotel and Casino and was horrified at the blatant racist, transphobic and homophobic content of the Terry Fator show. I contacted the management of The MGM including their diversity manager to formally lodge a complaint. While removing the offensive Trump puppet is a start it isn’t enough.
Blatant discrimination and public ridicule of Latinos and trans and LGBTQ individuals has no place on the Las Vegas strip disguised as “entertainment”. As long as the MGM corporation continues to allow this man to spew his hate under the guise of “family comedy” I will continue to boycott their company and keep pressuring their management to remove this outdated performer from their property permanently. There are literally a dozen or so ventriloquist acts in Las Vegas that are funny, entertaining, talented, and enjoyable to watch. Terry Fator unfortunately is NOT one of them."
While Fator presented himself on TV as an awe-shucks kind of guy, those in the know are aware of the real details of his scheming, shocking personal life. Fator has been accused of scandalous treatment and abandonment of first wife Melinda, a skeevy relationship with half-his-age employee/wife #2 Taylor Makakoa (he proposed to wife #3 right in front of her during a performance…while they were still married), lawsuits with former managers and a very bizarre background (including being raised in a cult). These aren't rumors or allegations...you can click on each link to learn about the individual scandals.
Then there’s that mysterious death of his estranged sister Deborah in his Vegas home. Fator had dedicated one of his 2007 AGT performances to Deborah, calling her "My inspiration. My unsung hero." But once that $100 million contract kicked in, Fator abandoned his sibling, who by then was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis.
As per court documents filed January 2019:
"Prior to her death, Defendant-Son had cut his sister out of his life in August 2011, refusing all contact with her until December 2014. On December 7, 2014, Defendant-Son called Plaintiff-Mother and said he thought it was time he re-establish a relationship with his sister and let her back in his life. Six months after reconciling, and six weeks after Defendant Terry Fator moved his sister to Las Vegas to live with him, she is found dead in her bedroom at Defendant’s home." All of this is directly from the lawsuit that Fator's mother brought against him.
Mother Marie Fator Sligh claims that her son sued her for $50,000 to get her to stop asking about his sister's death. Sligh also claims Fator instigated "false charges" filed against her in the 1990s after "she left the religious cult Defendant-Son and his father started – a religious cult that had become sexually abusive." Even though she worked for her son, she stated that he cut her off in 2015 and stopped supporting her, despite her having medical expenses. Within the lawsuit, Sligh asked the court to "terminate any and all parental ties and relationship" with Fator and wanted him ordered to donate $200,000 to her charity for abuse victims.
Fearing for her personal safety. Sligh accused her son of "elderly abuse". The document asked for “24 hour protection” so Sligh “can live the remainder of her life — the few years she has left on earth — in peace without having to live in fear always looking over her shoulder wondering what harm [Fator] and the people he is associated with might bring to her."
After all he's been accused of and all the charges he's managed to duck and dodge, you'd think that Terry Fator would be content to gather up his millions and head out of town. Keep in mind that his star had been tumbling for a VERY long time. The Mirage had reduced his performance schedule to weeknights in favor of 90's R & B group Boys II Men. Despite that record-setting $100 million contract, the iconic hotel resorted to filling seats by using deep-discount site Groupon.
As things started to tumble, Fator took to the road on Friday and Saturday evenings, performing at dusty State Fairs and venues in other cities. But "Terry Fator at the Pitchfork Oklahoma Amphitheater" doesn't have the same ring as "Live From The Las Vegas Strip". So after The Mirage canceled his contract early last year, they gave him six months to vacate. Fator's tired schtick was undoubtedly shown the door in favor of rising star Shin Lim. Promising the fading star an alternate venue would be the simplest way to address his out-of-control ego with a minimum of legal hassles.
Fator's return was slated for holiday season 2020 but ended up being delayed until May 2021, thanks to the pandemic. In an obvious middle finger to his critics, the ventriloquist named the new production "Who's The Dummy Now?". Apparently, the only ones answering "me" were MGM execs, as the show reportedly played to anemic numbers.
That didn't stop Fator from flashing his "I'm not a diva" Diva Card. My insiders at New York NY send me frequent reports of the faux everyman's rude behavior to resort staff, especially the security detail. I'm told that he went postal on them recently after finding an unknown car in his parking space. They reportedly retaliated by filling the spot with orange traffic cones. "What's the problem, Mr. Fator. Isn't orange your favorite color?".
This morning I received an official press release on "Who's The Dummy Now?" informing the media that the show is moving on up to Liberty Loft. What's that, you say? Where's Liberty Loft? Well, my friend, it's one of a collection of second-floor banquet/meeting spaces above Tom's Urban Sports Bar (the former ESPN Zone). With a seating capacity of 350 when configured for performances, Liberty Loft is a far cry from the former Terry Fator Theater (1,365) or Zumanity Theater (1,261). And while tickets easily crossed the $100.00 mark during his Mirage heyday, they'll now start at only $34.99 plus taxes/fees. Still too much, if you ask me.
Audiences should know what kind of people they're handing their money to. I began this article over seven years ago, but decided to kill it when Fator's PR rep at the time caught wind of it and contacted my then-editor with a seriously-worded "suggestion". I considered starting it back up again in January 2019, just in time for Fator's mom to spill the beans on his frightening behavior.
If this writer happens to have a mysterious accident or gets roughed up in an alley once this article is published, you know where to direct the authorities, right? But when the cops arrive, Mr. Fator would undoubtedly answer the door of his mansion with open arms and a shit-eating grin, feigning innocence and claiming "I never met the guy." Just like his hero.
March 7, 2014