Recent Brooklyn Nightlife Award winner Rify Royalty knows that life is a party, and parties are work. He talks with Thotyssey about the glamour, the fashionz, and the science of having a good time.
Thotyssey: Hi Rify! Congratulations on the Best Burlesque Show BNA you received for your monthly party Straight Acting Sunday! Strange, because it’s not really a burlesque show per se, but cool for the acknowledgement, right?
Rify Royalty: Yes, exactly!
When you’re in a big gathering of Brooklyn nightlife like that, what does the energy in the room feel like? Is it a big family? An acid commune? Hogwarts?
Definitely Hogwarts! [Laughs] just kidding. Yeah, it’s like your all-around family, and you’re all happy to see each other.
I just saw a shot of your look for that night: Ravishing! Who made that, and was it, um, comfortable?
It was made by Hana Quist and it was comfy-ish. Kinda delicate, but totally wearable.
How would you describe your profession to someone you just met?
I always just say I work in nightlife and give them a rundown: performer, producer, party host, promoter and occasional gogo boy.
That’s a fair description! Where are you from, by the way? What kind of a kid were you, and what were your early interests?
I grew up just outside the city, in Jersey City. I was a loner growing up: always social and friendly, but preferred to do things alone. I would lock myself in my room, listen to music and color or draw, or just do something creative.
How old were you when you were comfortable with, and understanding of, your sexuality?
I was about 15 when I finally started to acknowledge I was “different.”
Did you have to hide this from your family?
Yes, it was all hidden until I was 19.
That’s pretty par for the course. I guess as a New Jerseyite, you were probably exploring NYC nightlife pretty early on?
Yeah. I was always coming into the city to go out.
The first gay club I went to was the only 18+ place I heard about, and that was Escuelita. It was also the first live drag show I’d ever seen. Mind blowing!
Where and when did you start gogo dancing? And, I guess, why?
I started gogo dancing about three years ago. I was moving to Europe for a few months, and needed to make some extra cash for my trip. I was intimidated by the idea, but I just went for it and became pretty popular. It was at the Cock, but in those months I danced everywhere: the Ritz, G Lounge, Easternbloc, Sugarland.
When did you start calling yourself “Rify?”
Kinda always. My mom and some family members called me that growing up, so it just accidentally shifted over to a nightlife name.
You seem a lot less intimidated by gogo dancing these days! Is it fun for you, empowering?
It’s both empowering and fun, and at times lucrative. It didn’t take long for me to get over that discomfort. Most of it was building your self-esteem, and when you have people booking you left and right for jobs primarily based on your looks, it’s easy for you to build that confidence. I figured, they must like me! But I’m also easy to work with, and professional, which I think helps.
You also obviously work hard to stay in great shape. What’s your regiment?
Cliche, but: diet and commitment [laughs]. Protein-packed diet with a lot of exercise. I also don’t drink, I think that helps!
Why don’t you drink?
I’ve never really enjoyed alcohol. It doesn’t taste good, and I also like being in control.
You’ll outlive us all! So, when did you get into the Brooklyn scene?
Rght away, when I started gogo dancing at Sugarland. I had already been going out in Brooklyn before that. Then I started performing at parties like Hot Fruit and Bathsalts.
Who do you think are some of the genuinely creative people based in Brooklyn that the world should be watching right now?
Untitled Queen, Chris of Hur, Boy Georgia, Goldie Peacock, Mister Wallace… ugh, everyone really.
Do you think that kids coming out in these looks is a form of art in and of itself?
Totally. It’s expressive for them. I know it is for me.
You do have a lot of artistry in your club looks. How did this creative side of your presentation evolve?
I used to dress up and go to Greenhouse for Vandal almost every week. I dressed up because I wanted too!
I loved pics of that fin headpiece you wore for this season’s premiere of the Le Bain: On Top party. How could you see/breathe through that?
It’s well -ventilated! Diego Montoya makes most of his pieces with a bit of mystery on the outside, but still functional on the inside, mostly [laughs].
Good to know! That was for Susanne Bartsch’s party; are you going to be a weekly host there this summer?
It looks like it.
Great! How close are you with Susanne?
We have a pretty good professional and artistic relationship. She’s great to work with.
Do yo think she’s gonna do anything else, party-wise, in the near future? Maybe in Brooklyn, where her biggest following is?
After Kunst, she hasn’t really done much in Brooklyn. But I think she may explore that again sometime.
When did you decide that you were ready to start promoting, and even creating, parties?
When people gave me that platform.
I read Dream Dommu’s insightful article about all that’s involved in being a host. Do you feel like a lot of psychology is used in deciding how to throw the perfect party?
You have to know what people like, and what people want. They’re coming to your event, after all, so it’s important to create an atmosphere people want to be in.
I see you travel a lot, including a recent trip to India. What did you learn there about people, art, sex, the world, etc?
India’s one of those magical places one should be so lucky to visit. It’s a very poor country, but rich in culture. It was a bit overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. I learned that people in the western world have it easy, and we should be grateful for the world we live in. We have resources that people in parts of the world, like India, don’t.
As far as sex is concerned, I didn’t have much of it there. Being gay is still illegal in India, and although the locals have told me no one’s ever been arrested, it still makes things complicated.
Speaking of travelling, tell me about this Anna Nicole party you’re involved in, June 3rd in Toronto.
It’s just a party that Scooter runs. This is his new night, Goddess. And the goddess this time is Anna! Rightfully so. Last time is was mermaids. They’re having me as a guest performer.
Ok cool. So, back to your BNA winning monthly party Straight Acting!
BNA and Glam Award-winning!
Of course! The next edition of Straight Acting is Thursday, May 26th. What is this party exactly, and why do you think it’s such a hit?
It’s a dance party and show. People like it because I think it gives them an opportunity to be more themselves in a safe space around others.They enjoy the shows, the looks, the vibe. Everyone is welcome, and I do my best to let them know that .
It sounds like a great time! Then on Friday, you’re hosting at the Ostbahnhof party, which is a fundraiser for the Princess Janae Place at the House of Yes. Besides the great cause, what do you think the best thing about that night is going to be?
They’ve got quite the lineup of hosts, DJs and performers. So, I think collectively we’ll bring a really great energy and vibe to the House of Yes, which is already an amazing venue.
And then Saturday (busy week!), you’re hosting PLAY at Bizarre Bushwick. Talk about that!
PLAY is a “sexy” party where people can do what they like, so to speak. Dance floor upstairs and dark room downstairs. The party used to happen at Lovegun, and we took a break. Now we’re back, and excited. Bizarre is a really good physical space for it.
Is that one gonna by a weekly or monthly, or a “we’ll see?”
We’re leaning toward a monthly.
Cool. Anything else coming up?
I have new party at Easternbloc, June 18th.. so look out for that!
And finally… what’s something we all need to know about Rify Royalty that we don’t know already?
I don’t even know! I’m very public, mostly. I would say, the one thing people who know me always think is that I’m hard to approach. But I’m actually pretty nice!
We concur! Thanks Rify!
Rify Royalty hosts Straight Acting on May 26th–and every last Thursday–at TnT (10pm). He also hosts Susanne Bartsch’s On Top party at Le Bain every Tuesday night (10pm). This week you can additionally find Rify hosting the Ostbahnhof party at the House of Yes on Friday, May 27th (11pm) and PLAY at Bizarre Bar on Saturday, May 28th (10pm). Rify Royalty can be followed on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Straight Acting can also be
followed on Instagram.