Jul 17, 2019 07:18PM
● By Debbie Hall
Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator combines his talents as a singer, comedian, ventriloquist, and celebrity impressionist to entertain audiences, recently celebrating his 10th year at The Mirage Hotel & Casino. His newest show, An Evening with the Stars, showcases his cast of puppet characters, including Willie Nelson, a big cannabis advocate, and Duggie Scott Walker, Fator’s annoying neighbor who always has and always will party with cannabis.
When Fator debuted his show in 2009, Duggie was part of the cast that also included Winston the Impersonating Turtle, Walter T. Airdale, Julius, and Maynard Thompkins. Fator had toured on the country fair circuit and played smaller venues for 25 years when he auditioned for the second season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. He won that season and was offered a multi million dollar contract to perform at The Mirage for five years, which has been extended to 2023. His unique talent for celebrity impressions sung using ventriloquism is impressive as he belts out notes in the voices of Adele and Etta James, croons like Tony Bennett, and serenades like Aaron Neville with Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Jr., and Justin Bieber (just to name a few celebs) dropping by to perform.
During the celebration of his 10th year at The Mirage, the entertainer was given a Key to the Las Vegas Strip by Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, a champion of legalizing cannabis in Nevada. The commissioner also proclaimed March 15 as Terry Fator Day.
While some people might consider Fator’s cast puppets, they are characters with their own opinions, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. Cannabis has always been the new normal with Fator, as expressed with Duggie on and off stage as I experienced one evening after the show.
The conversation started with Duggie Scott Walker greeting me, “Hey, Doobie!”
Terry nudged him and told him my name is Debbie.
I asked Duggie how did he end up as Terry’s neighbor, especially with the move to Las Vegas?
“I have been with him for a long time, and I won’t let him go,” says Duggie. “He is always there. It’s the weirdest thing, no matter where I move, there’s Duggie,” adds Fator.
I smiled as I asked Duggie about adult-use recreational cannabis now being legal in Nevada.
Duggie looked at us stunned and asked, “It’s legal?”
“He still hasn’t quite grasped that and hides his weed. I keep trying to explain it to him,” Fator explained, then asks Duggie if he understands when something is now legal? Duggie got that deer-in-the-headlight look and asked “What?” as we both realized to give it up.
Fator discovered CBD oil after he had shoulder surgery, as he explains, “I have never been in so much intense, agonizing pain. My poor wife was beside herself worrying about me.” The day after surgery, Fator was scheduled to fly to San Francisco. Medication and other methods did not ease his excruciating pain. A nurse on his flight told Fator to stop in a dispensary and buy some CBD oil.
“We were desperate to get relief. We got the CBD oil, and the difference was like night and day. My wife and I are now big supporters of medicinal cannabis,” he says. “We are so thrilled to have it. The medicinal properties are limitless, and we have only scratched the surface of how cannabis will be able to help people in the future.”
He has always given back to the community and has founded the Terry Fator Foundation with a pending 501(c)3 designation. All of the profits 100 percent from the sales of his merchandise, whether purchased at The Mirage, shows on tour, or online, benefit the foundation. Giving is focused on various charities, including military and first responders, children diagnosed with cancer, and Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation. Fator has also been a longtime supporter of the Arthritis Foundation because his late sister had arthritis for many years.
“It is an amazing thing to give back to my community and the world. There are so many people hurting, and it is up to all of us to make the world a better place for everyone,” says Fator. “It’s wonderful to be in a position to help and include my fans who support me by helping the foundation.”
Ironically, Fator’s original plan was to appear on a couple of episodes of America’s Got Talent, get kicked off, and then raise his price when he performed in schools. Fator did plan to play in Las Vegas but thought he would begin in one of the smaller, older casinos and move up in 10 to 15 years. He remains amazed and grateful for his success today and how it all happened.
“I am the poster boy for living the American dream,” says Fator.
“But he is not the poster boy for cannabis,” adds Duggie. “I am.”
The show remains fresh and different; Fator continues to give his best performances while supporting his community.