Chanteuse, comedienne and cabaret star Lady Rizo recently told alma mater Cornish College that she’ll know she’s truly successful when drag queens start doing impressions of her. But as a major force on the NYC singing scene and with a Grammy under her belt, Ms. Rizo (aka Amelia Zirin-Brown) has already arrived. She struts her stuff locally in The Hot Spot, Teatro ZinZanni’s new show (through 6/7; zinzanni.com).
Location: El Diablo Coffee Co. on Queen Anne
Drinks: Rizo, spicy ginger chai with almond milk; Guppy, blackberry soda
Nancy Guppy: Who is Lady Rizo?
Lady Rizo: She’s an alter ego I developed in 2004 as a way to embrace the feminine divine within me through the power of vintage glamour, coupled with the sensibility of a contemporary woman
NG: What’s she like?
LR: She is sexy, sensual, strong, truth telling, bold, adored…and weird.
NG: Is Lady Rizo based on any person, real or imaginary?
LR: No, but I’m continually inspired by divas of yesteryear. I love how Peggy Lee moved and how Streisand, at a young age, would throw herself into performance with a wild vulnerability.
NG: Who are your heroes?
LR: Freddie Mercury, Nina Simone, Prince. I admire anyone who pushes past their bubble of comfort.
NG: How did attending Cornish College affect your career?
LR: The most important thing Cornish gave me was that students had to produce their own senior project, which meant that if I wanted fire breathing in my show, I had to go to the Seattle Fire Department and get a permit. Leaving school knowing that I could pull off stuff like that was huge.
NG: Do you get stage fright?
LR: Once the performance happens, no. That said, I don’t like to know when reviewers are in the audience, because I’ll go into my critical mind.
NG: Any secret talents?
LR: I’m really great at acro-yoga—lying down on my back and flying people like airplanes on my feet. I can lift any size man. It was my seduction technique for a while.
NG: What do you like about a live audience?
LR: I love when there’s a journey, where the audience starts out saying “no” and by the end, they are saying “yes.”
NG: What matters most in your work?
LR: There is something about being under the same roof, focused on one thing, that our spirits hunger for. I can hold a room, so I can be a shepherd for focused group attention.
NG: Would you rather be filthy rich or creatively satisfied?
LR: I don’t think creative satisfaction exists, so I’ll go with filthy rich.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her TV series, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).