‘He was very complimentary about my performance. It was at an afterparty he was hosting. Later, I was dancing and, out of the corner of my eye, I was like, “Who’s that hot lesbian? Oh, it’s Prince!” Watching him perform was a masterclass in harnessing the energy in a room and channelling it, like water through stones.’
‘My parents met with an astrologer with a list of qualities that they wanted – mainly that I would be a girl and an artist – and she gave them a specific date to conceive me and they conceived me on that date.’
Born Amelia Zirin-Brown, Lady Rizo grew up as part of an artists’ community in Oregon, north-west US. ‘They had a theatre company – they’d do Bertolt Brecht and Shakespeare in barns – and a dance company, and my dad would do a little light puppetry and magic. I think I was three years old [when I did] my first Chekhov play. It was an interesting way to be raised, you know. It was a turn away from money. I had a group of adults who were invested in my upbringing.’
After drama school, Lady Rizo was a singer on a cruise liner for six months. ‘It was absolute hell but I made a lot of money. I was singing at night then waitressing in the morning. At breakfast, these older patrons would be like, “You look familiar...” “No, no. How do you like your eggs?”’
Lady Rizo was producer, director and host of groundbreaking troupe Lady Rizo and the Assettes. ‘The story was that we all travelled throughout the world on this double-decker convertible cherry-red bus looking for raw, sensual talent. They had to have a great ass – boys or girls – and I was the whip cracker. It was all very informal and shoestring, this strange combination of about a dozen concert dancers and professional musicians – we had only live music – and props and costumes. And even though at first we were performing in a burrito shack in Long Island City, we were always sold out.’
Lady Rizo went solo in 2007 with her own weekly show. ‘It’s a big jump – no tits and ass other than my own.’ It paid off, with acclaim from everyone from The Village Voice to the The Wall Street Journal; the New York Times recently called her ‘sensational’.
Lady Rizo has already performed with Moby and won a Grammy for her collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma. She has big plans: to make albums, act on stage and screen and have a troupe of dancing boys. ‘I can’t wait to do stadiums. But with cabaret, I can look everyone in the eye.’
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