This Brazilian beauty is part of the new, soon-to-be-post-lockdown era of NYC drag, thanks to a weekly party at the Ritz… and it looks like she’s bringing a new sisterhood along for the ride. Everyone say Olá, Isabella Rio!
Thotyssey: Good afternoon, Isabella! How is this lovely April treating you so far?
Isabella Rio: Hello, great afternoon for your too! This month has already started with many new features! The concert hall is coming back.. I am very happy and fulfilled!
Yes, nightlife in the City is being reborn! Have you been doing any digital / virtual drag at all during this past year?
Yes I did… I actually had a lot of work. I did a project during the pandemic: I help drags from Brazil. All the money (tips) I get from my shows, I donate to drags who are out of work there. I call them, and we do a Live on Instagram to thank the sponsors. I try to do this whenever I can! It’s a way to help my country’s drag art.
So, you began your drag career in your native Brazil. That must have been quite a transition when you got here!
Adapting my drag to the American style was difficult and wonderful! I love America and I love Brazil… I am an American tree with Brazilian [branches]! The fruits you have to [eat] to see how it tastes! I love to show you guys our Brazilian drag culture. It’s totally different from here, and the same time so equal.
How different are those two scenes?
The the tips [from audiences in New York shows are] so amazing. In Brazil, we don’t have this culture–and the respect. I think what RuPaul did here, it completely changed the way people look at drag! We need something like RuPaul in Brazil. We need! The drag art there, it is very undervalued.
I started to do drag here because I saw that here people respected me, and I wouldn’t die on the street just because I’m doing drag. And [Brazil] yesterday kills more trans people in the world, and drags! The LGBTQI+ in Brazil, in general, suffer a lot. It’s hard to [say] that, because we fight a lot to change! But the difference between Brazil and USA–for drags here, we have more opportunities to be a superstar!
Do you think we will see a Drag Race: Brazil someday?
I think we have to! But I think we live in the very difficult moments in politics in Brazil: what our politicians think reflects a lot about our population. RuPaul is very famous in Brazil; her fanbase is very big. I hope that one day she will find space for her [show] in Brazil television!
Yes, and I’m so excited about it! I think we are more stronger if we are together. We just have love to give to each other!
Did you know any of those girls before you moved here?
I met all these queens here–Pietra I meet [on the] internet, but in person just here!
It would be great to see you all doing shows together someday! In the meantime, you host the weekly “A Night in Rio,” Mondays at the Ritz! You’re with DJ Valber, and a number of amazing guest queens have joined you so far (this week you’ll have Dahlia Sin). Tell us more about how you started that night, and what it is about!
I worked every Friday at the Ritz with a party called “Favela.” I always loved working at the Ritz; it’s the house that always opened the doors for me. And as soon as things opened up again, the beautiful manager called me and offered me that Monday night. I was already a year without doing events! I was very happy.
“A Night in Rio” is a night where I want to bring to my audience the feeling of being in Brazil, and at the same time always with a lot of good shows. I always try to bring incredible guests that I know have fire in their eyes, and will bring good [performances] to my audience. And when the big boss called me, I just thought about Valber [as a good fit for the night]. Me and Valber, we have a beautiful connection–he knows how to make the dance floor catch fire. I love him… and I can’t explain how happy I am with this night!
What a great addition to Hell’s Kitchen programming; have fun with it all! My closing question for you is: what is the secret in Brazil to explain how everyone is so beautiful there? Is it something in the water???
The secret is: you have to go to “A Night in Rio” every Monday at the Ritz! I’ll tell you there!
I’m there! Thank you, Isabella!