FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS, British singer Matt Goss has been playing Cleopatra’s Barge in Caesars Palace with such swagger that the famous room—where Sinatra had been known to stop in for a scotch and a song— since has been redubbed The Gossy Room.
But Goss has more than swagger and a stylish fedora going on—including several U.K. performances and a new album produced by Ron Fair (think Christina Aguilera, the Black Eyed Peas and Mary J. Blige) due out next spring.
Still, the Caesars headliner took time from his busy schedule, in honor of Sinatra’s Dec. 12 birthday, to talk with diamondcake about Ol’ Blue Eyes, fashion and the strong sense of community in Las Vegas.
It’s been said that you’re Frank Sinatra’s reincarnation; is that an image you’ve groomed?
I’m incredibly flattered, but there’s only one Sinatra. I’m influenced by Donny Hathaway; Stevie Wonder; I’m certainly influenced by Frank, and Dean Martin. I love that era, Frank Sinatra and what he stands for. But he’s Frank Sinatra, my God.
I can honestly say that I’ve never tried to sound like Frank. I’m a soul singer; it allows you to sing some of those standards the way that Frank did, I guess, in the fact that he sang with his soul, you know? Maybe that’s where the comparison comes from.
So the resemblance isn’t obvious to you?
I have this picture, actually, of me playing the Royal Albert Hall, and Frank playing the Royal Albert Hall, and somebody put these pictures together, and it’s almost creepy. It’s exactly the same lighting; we’re wearing almost the same thing; we’re doing the same thing with our hand—it’s an incredible picture.
That wasn’t planned?
I had not one clue.
No billboards, no ads, yet always a packed house. Why is your show such a success?
If I’m playing the Royal Albert Hall or if I’m playing to 750 people in The Gossy at Caesars, I treat them the same. A room is a room. The people there want to see the best performance you can give them.
Do you enjoy the Las Vegas lounge scene?
I think I’ve learned a lot from playing an intimate showroom—you don’t get away with anything. Some people know me; some people don’t; some people might not care either way. I’ll be going to London, where my show sold out in 10 seconds, but you have to put a different head on when you play Vegas. I love winning over an audience.
Tell us about your fashion sense?
I’ve always loved Cary Grant and Fred Astaire; Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin; and David Niven—great style icons. I genuinely like that kind of fashion—it’s not a costume for me. I just really love fashion, and I love details, and I like them to be authentic. The gold feather in my hat is circa Tiffany; the suspenders are (from the) 1950s; my tiepins are ’50s; my cuff links are vintage Cartier.
How many hats do you have?
I have so many—I don’t know, 50? I put different bands on them and a hat pin or something to give it originality. There’s a guy in L.A. that makes me custom hats. It’s a process, you know; but that song “The Way You Wear Your Hat,” you’ve got to earn that.
How does it feel to be named Las Vegas’ Sexiest Man Alive?
(Laughs) It feels silly. I don’t feel very sexy. I’m happy to be called sexy—I’d rather be called sexy than not sexy.
Being from London and living in Los Angeles, do you feel a part of the Las Vegas community?
I just did something (in London) for the LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) and Mr. and Mrs. Mayor (Goodman) were there. It was for the British Guild. I was on stage, and I told them to be quiet for a sec, because I wanted to tell them that there’s community in Vegas, and beautiful mountains and countryside—there’s a Strip, and it’s very important to the town, but the sense of community is very important, too. So I am involved, yes. Opportunity Village is my charity. I’ve done a few shows for them, now.
Any plans for the future?
If I get to stay in Vegas, if they continue to take me under their wing, I’d love to create a foundation to eradicate homelessness, to make Vegas the first homeless-free city in America. With a small participation from the casinos, I think it could be done. I’d like to do a gala every year, where we raise money and we build shelters.
What inspired your song “Lovely Las Vegas”?
It’s not mindless lyrics. I wrote, ‘The sun sets on Flamingo Road,’ because it does set on Flamingo Road. Every piece of the song is from a valid place.
Are there any Sinatra songs that are special to you?
“My Way.” When I listen to that song I see a man who has seen a lot of life. It always makes me emotional.
Do you ever tire of the comparison?
I think it would be almost disrespectful to shy away from it. I just let things be, you know—I never encourage it. “You’re the king of Vegas,”—that’s another one I hear. There’s only one king of Vegas, and that was Elvis.
Previously published in diamondcake. Updated by smallTALK. Archived for Matt Goss.