Let’s check in with this fun and gorgeous young brunch queen known for her impressive onstage gymnastics. She’s passing down her Miss West End 2015 pageant crown tonight, and we’re sure that there is lot more greatness on the horizon for Ritzy Bitz!
Thotyssey: Hi Ritzy, thanks for talking to us! I recently re-watched the Drag Queen Olympics video you filmed with Marti Gould Cummings and other queens, and was so impressed with your athletic prowess! Was it “scripted” that you would be the good one, or did it just happen that way?
Ritzy Bitz: [Laughs] thank you! The girls were all allowed to choose whether they wanted to do it seriously or to camp it up. We all chose to just have fun with it, and for me, competition is fun! I had a blast with all of the girls, and Marti is genius for coming up with the video idea.
It was a lot of fun to watch. So, summer’s just about over, how was yours overall? What were some highlights for you?
My highlight for this summer was working at La Pulperia, it was my first time hosting a brunch show! It’s been a fantastic performance opportunity. I’ve met some really incredible people, and have some great shows.
The Sunday brunch you host there is a lot of fun. Have you found, like, the perfect brunch number to perform yet?
The perfect brunch number for me doesn’t seem to exist! In a perfect world, I will be able to do a song that is campy, fierce and funny. I’ve found a few pop songs that I’ve been able to make my own, and have worked on a handful of really fabulous mixes to perform. The brunch crowd also enjoys throwback songs and classic drag queen standards that are always fun to perform!
Are you surprised that drag brunch in general is such a huge thing?
Not at all. It’s perfect for those who can’t stay out late and have weekends off. It’s also excellent for tourists as well! La Pulperia makes it easy because the food is incredible and the drinks are strong. Exactly what you want at any type of unlimited brunch!
And there was a recent milestone of La Pulperia’s that you performed at, right?
Their UES location just celebrated their 2-year anniversary! I got to perform for them, and it was incredible! Their space over there is completely different from the intimate Hell’s Kitchen location. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a La Pulperia fan.
Okay, so let’s get to you. You’re a Buffalo, NY native! I went to college up by there, and it was this grungy ghost town, but in recent years it’s really come around, right?
I did grow up there. I moved out here before really getting to experience any of the nightlife, so I can’t say much. But from what I’ve heard it’s been cute up there lately!
Cold as hell up there though, and that snow is no joke! Are you built for winter?
I definitely am. I’ll see other queens running around in a hundred layers, and I’ve just got my onesie and a good jacket on and I’m just fine.
Werk. So before drag, did you always want to be some sort of entertainer?
Yes, I followed in the footsteps of Brita Filter, Marti Gould Cummings and several others and attended AMDA, I was really convinced I would be on Broadway one day. After performing “Today 4 U” from RENT in class, it was pretty clear I was destined to be a drag performer. I’ve never looked back since. I have more control and artistic freedom that I would have on Broadway, and for me, that’s much better.
I am always fascinated by the drag tradition of AMDA! There are a lot of queens in this city from your generation in general, though. Do you think there are too many?
There are definitely too many queens. Drag is more popular than ever. It’s gone from something that was loved but done by few to something that is put on a pedestal and done by many.
With Drag Race, everyone thinks they can be a queen. Sure, they’re funny, they can dance a little, and lip syncing is easy enough. Many of these girls, especially in NYC, are just run of the mill.
Then you get your girls who have found things that set them apart, give them a competitive edge and allow them to make lasting careers.
You seem to be doing pretty well for yourself, you have a weekly gig, a title and guest spots everywhere. What’s your Thing, do you think?
What sets me apart is my gymnastics background. I’m able to tumble, kick, leap, split and death drop. It’s fun for me to do, and the audiences really love it.
You are very athletic onstage! Do you ever worry about getting hurt?
To be honest, no. After spending 20 years learning gymnastics, I am very good with using my body and knowing what I’m capable of. If I don’t think something is safe for me to do, I won’t do it.
Do, do you consider any queen to be your drag mother?
Well, Marti Gould Cummings has claimed me for #HausofCummings.
It definitely was. It’s something I’ve fallen away from lately; I don’t want to give away too many secrets!
You’re the first person I’ve spoken to who’s said that! I’ve asked a lot of queens who do tutorials and Facebook Live “Getting Readys” if they worried about giving away their secrets, and they respond like that’s a ridiculous question!
Listen, I have some tricks that I’m not going to share with even my closest of friends!
So where was your first performance here in NYC? And what was the song?
My first performance here was at the West End, and I believe it was “Birthday” by Katy Perry.
Yes it was! Superwoman!
Those two are really going places now! So, you had a lot of drag milestones at the West End. You won the first Miss West End pageant! And you won the C’Mon Wednesday completion, which resulted in you hosting your own show there for awhile. How’s the West End audience different from your usual gay bar crowd, and did you have to work super hard for that room?
Well, C’mon Wednesday transformed into karaoke night–which was really fun, but when trying to integrate a drag show into a very straight college environment, it just didn’t end up working. The nights that are designated as “gay nights” at The West End are generally better for drag.
So, you were in last year’s season of “So You Think You Can Drag?” which is back for another season right now. I know a lot of people were surprised when you were cut when you were, and that you should’ve lasted longer. How was that experience for you overall?
That experience was a whirlwind. I went into it knowing that I wanted to try new things, and find myself as a performer. I had a lot of really incredible ideas for the finale, and I’m going to be using some of them soon!
Adriana Trenta just won Week 3 of this season’s “SYTYCD?” Is she a drag child of yours, or just a judy?
Adriana Trenta is one of my friends who I’ve been helping a lot, because I’m secretly a nice person. I’ve been proud of what she’s accomplished so far, and can’t wait to see more. I hope that a lot of young queens can look at her and say, “there’s someone who is putting in all of the time and effort required to make something for herself,” and then they’ll hopefully follow suit and work just as hard!
You became a mini-meme not long ago, when you attended the live taping of this past season’s Drag Race finale in Los Angeles and received an adorable audience closeup! How fun, and educational, was that day?
It was wild. We sat in filming for hours, and even though I had a blast I swore I wouldn’t go back until it was my turn…unless someone I’m close with was in the top 3 again. We’ll see which comes first.
I wanna ask your opinion about Phi Phi O’Hara on Drag Race All-Stars this season. She got sent home last night, and there’ been a lot of hard feelings on her part about how she was portrayed. I think we can all agree that the crazy hater trolls need to stop with the death threats against her. But do you think the show really edited her into a villain, or was that her own doing?
I wish people would leave her alone. Yes, those are things she said, but we only get to see a tiny portion of their time in the Race, and it’s all chosen by people who have sat and selected certain moments to create a compelling reality show. Personally, I love Phi Phi and think she’s terrific. From my personal experience, she is sweet and incredibly kind.
Agreed. How have you enjoyed your reign as the very first Miss West End?
It’s been really interesting, definitely something that inspired me to start pursuing pageantry. I’m excited to see what the next Miss West End does with her reign. I hope that she can be fully immersed in the bar’s activities.
Will your step down number on Friday be everything?
I’m revamping a few numbers for the occasion that I’m really excited to be performing.
Yay! Do you have advice for the pageant contestants this time around?
Make us laugh, make us remember you, show us your very best.
Any more pageants for you in the near future?
I’ve started prepping for the upcoming season, I want to present something I’m incredibly proud of, so I’m taking my time with my pageant package.
Good luck! Anything else Ritzy-related to look out for?
Just to keep an eye on my social media, I’ve got some exciting plans I’m announcing soon!
Will do! In closing: what are your favorite and least favorite things about drag?
My favorite thing about drag is the social aspect. I get to meet so many incredible people in this city, and I’m so thankful for that. My least favorite thing about drag is how people compare queens to each other. I think that everyone brings something unique to the table that allows us to be equally talented.
Ritzy Bitz will step down as Miss West End 2015 in the 2016 pageant on Friday, September 23rd (9pm). She hosts drag brunch at La Pulperia on Sunday afternoons (12pm). Ritzy can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube.