Tales From A Real Burlesque Queen: Backstage With Lady Rizo
The life of real-live burlesque queen Lady Rizo is a lot of glamour … and a lot of hard work.
When you think of burlesque queens you may think of feathery boas in a sea of red and black lingerie and seductive music pumping, but when we walk into burlesque queen Lady Rizo’s dressing room before her sold out show at Joe’s Pub, we are greeted by a woman in a long corduroy skirt, with no makeup on and her dirty blonde hair thrown into a messy bun atop her head – Lady Rizo could be your best friend, or your high school English teacher.
She greets us warmly and when we sit on the couch, she suggests it would be better if we sat on a chair right next to her while she does her makeup, which by the way she does herself, as well as her own hair.
“I’m going to have a burrito named after me,” she says, laughing. “I guess I’ve really made it.” Lady Rizo is referring to the fact that her foray into the glamorous world of burlesque started in a very unglamorous bar…in Long Island City. After struggling at being a theater star in Manhattan, Lady Rizo, a self-described “logical person” felt that there had to be a better way to break into show business than suffering in audition after audition and “begging to do my work.” She and her sister decided to explore the world of burlesque, and hopped around Manhattan to check out different shows – at the Zipper Factory, Slipper Room, and other venues until they decided that they could definitely do this themselves. They set up their own show at The Creek and The Cave, in Long Island City, where they invited their personal list of contacts, and brought a great turnout, including celebrities like Moby.
After her first performance, Lady Rizo “knew that this is what I was born to do,” and she went from Amelia Zirin-Brown to Lady Rizo. Rizo is her husband’s last name, which she didn’t take in marriage, but now uses more often than her real name.