Modern Family: Meet Vancouver’s Celebrity Impersonators

On hearing the sad news of Meat Loaf’s passing on January 20, 2022, we’re bringing back this story from last year in which we got to know Vancouver’s Meat Loaf (and the other talented celebrity impersonators of our city). We’re sure Wally Kozakow will keep the legacy going.

Photo by Adam Blasberg

Some belt out the hits; others are simply happy to be fodder for a can’t-believe-it photo op. But every tribute artist (as many impersonators prefer to be called) is doing it for the sheer love of their look-alike. Agencies like Simply the Best Talent—which represents many of the “stars” seen here—offer up a roster of icons on demand right here in Vancouver for an up-close-and-personal experience (online or outdoors during pandemic times) that might even be more fun than the real thing. After all, what are the odds you’re going to get the genuine Tina to come to your Zoom wedding?

Wally Kozakow, a.k.a. Meat Loaf

“The show my wife, Michelle, and I have is called ‘Legendary Duos’: famous duos throughout time. Meat Loaf is just one of the characters I portray; Michelle plays his girl onstage, and we do ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light.’ We also do Sonny and Cher, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Phantom of the Opera. That’s one of our favourites, with the mask and the cape. We go right up through history to Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.”

Zenia Marshall, a.k.a. Ariana Grande

“There’s a lot of tanning, a lot of hair, a lot—a lot—of ponytail. You contour, put on some glitter. And when it comes to performing, I’ll try to emulate part of her essence: it’s her songs and the way she sings them that matter. But when you do tribute, you have to keep a part of yourself in there. It’s an art to try to find both you and Ariana together.”

Luisa Marshall, a.k.a. Tina Turner

“I enjoy it more when I don’t try so hard to be Tina. If you try to be that artist, you’re not: I don’t feel good. I feel so cheesy. What I would say to other tribute artists is to just have fun with it, but you have to perfect the makeup and get close to the hair and outfit. Thank God I have a good pair of legs.”

Bill Pantazis, a.k.a. George Michael

“George and I both have Greek roots and a passion for music. My craziest crowd was a group of 700 women representing LipSense on a cruise ship. The screaming was nuts. They made me feel like a real rock star. My day job is working as a bus driver, but one weekend, I performed in front of 18,000 during a Canucks game.”

Eli Williams, a.k.a. Elvis Presley

“You can kind of learn audience psychology and tailor a set as you go. There are the standards, like ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’ ‘Suspicious Minds’ is theatrical: there’s a big karate section in it. ‘My Way,’ I really like the story, knowing what he was going through in his personal life when he performed it. One of the things I’ve learned about him is that, yes, he was a great performer and singer, but he could sell a song. He could sing you the phone book and sell it.”

Jayden Linkletter, a.k.a. Billie Eilish

“At her concert, I was just walking past the huge lineup and a girl screamed. Suddenly, I got swarmed by fans because they thought I was her, which I found funny, considering it was her concert and she was most likely backstage.”

This story was originally published on July 16 2021.