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The following is excerpted from San Franciso's Lost Landmarks


The Finocchio Club operated on Broadway for sixty-three years with hundreds of men gracing their stage. David de Alba represents one of the best of those, entertaining the club's audiences during the seventies and eighties with his female impersonation and voice impressions of Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and others along with his own creation, Boy-Chic. Mr. de Alba kindly shared the following anecdote from his days at the Finocchio Club.

CLick on ME for a LARGER PICTURE Half an hour before the fourth and last show was to start, Mrs. Finocchio's sister Maria ran upstairs toward our dressing rooms and shouted to Emcee Carroll Wallace that we had no one in the audience and she was going to cancel the fourth show and to announce it to the cast. To Carroll's delight, since we worked very hard on the three previous shows, he blew the whistle and told us to get ready to go home early. Meanwhile, my Finocchio roommate, comedian Russell Reed looked at me slyly and said in a whisper, "David, don't believe a word from Carroll Wallace. Don't you dare take your makeup off. Carroll is trying to get us in trouble with the house!" The house meant Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Finocchio.

A few minutes passed by and Maria ran upstairs again and shouted, "Carroll, three people just walked in and we have to do the last show after all! "Carroll blew the whistle again, shouted, "Showtime!" and announced the bad news to the cast who, including Carroll, had already removed their wigs and part of their stage makeup.

Meanwhile Russell said to me, "What did I tell you David? It was all Carroll's doing. I told Russell that it was not Carroll's own doing because I heard Maria make the announcement to cancel the fourth show and why would Carroll go through all the trouble to take off his own glue-on wig and makeup? Carroll and Russell did not like each other very much and I never did find out the reason. I heard that at one time Russell worked for Carroll in a revue that he had formed between his Finocchio gigs.

CLick on ME for a LARGER PICTURE Anyway, as the show opened with The Eve-ettes, (the chorus line named for Eve Finocchio) you could see the expressions on the faces and hear the laughter of the few people in the audience. The Eve-ettes appeared with partial face makeup, no false eyelashes and their street pants rolled up under their skirts. As they would do a high kick on stage, you could see men's pants instead of girlie type stage underwear. Even Carroll's own wig was not glued on and looked like it could bounce off his head at any moment.

As the show progressed and the middle and final productions came on, The Eve-ettes face makeup progressively improved between appearances, repairing it while acts like Lavern Cummings, Russell Reed and I were on. By the last entrance, all were perfectly made-up and gowned, as though nothing had happened.

From then on there was a note on the blackboard upstairs for the cast that there will always be a fourth show whether there is an audience or not. If the club was empty, it provided an opportunity for any of us singers to break in new arrangements with the band trio headed by Bill Bullard.

CLick on ME for a LARGER PICTURE Mr. de Alba also opened a hair salon in the Potrero Hill district of San Francisco, gaining fame as the "Stylist to the Stars" for his work with local celebrities as well as the stars of Finocchio's. Featured on Bay Area television and in newspaper articles, famed columnist Herb Caen covered a television pilot shoot for the series Spies with Tony Curtis at the de Alba Salon. Mr. Curtis, a female impersonator in the movie Some Like It Hot, met with Mr. de Alba, discussing de Alba's career.

Interest remains in the man who brought the image and voice of Judy Garland to life in San Francisco. Mr. de Alba's career remains active, highlighted by his award winning website. Recordings are available on CD including some created live at Finocchio's within that site.

David de Alba was the recipient of the San Francisco's Lost Landmarks' Achievement Award for Preserving San Francisco's Memories for 2010. That award is given in recognition of an organization or person who has successfully resurrected or kept in the public eye some facet of the city's rich history. Mr. de Alba is lauded for his ongoing promotion of the Finocchio Club, one of San Francisco's finest.

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