The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
There have been some big changes taking place in the Big Apple even though you might not have even realized it. With Bianca Del Rio winning her recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s clearly not going to be around nearly as much, that leaves a larger than life and an obnoxious void in the city’s drag scene. Mimi Imfurst has moved on to greener pastures and a fresh start in the City of Brotherly Love. Dallas DuBois retired from drag and moved to LA, presumably after the Rockettes refused to hire her. Epiphany is spending large chunks of the year overseas and I can’t blame her even slightly for that. But even with the outgoing talent there is still a lot of established talent in the city as well. Drag Race villainess extraordinaire, Phi Phi O’Hara made the move from the Windy City to New York. Legends like Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Hedda Lettuce and others are still killing it. The cupboard is clearly not bare.
But now, more than ever, there is a young, hungry (by hungry I mean ambitious…and, well…hungry. Most of these skinny bitches need a sandwich or three) crop of drag talent ready to burst into stardom. As a part of this series, NewYorkNowNext, we’re going to be taking a look at some of this talent that is blooming all around the Big Apple. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to talk with Miss Ritzy Bitz!
Chiffon Dior: Hi there Ritzy! I’m glad we’re getting to talk for a bit. I hope you’re bundled up on this freezing cold night!
Ritzy Bitz: Oh I’m nice and snug I’m my apartment right now. My onesie on and everything! Hope you’re staying warm as well!!
CD:Nothing that a bottle of Absolut can’t fix! I might even have to break out my hip pads for a little extra warmth!
RB: Hip pads and vodka, sounds like a typical Thursday night!
CD: And you wonder why everyone wants to be a drag queen these days? If that doesn’t sound glamorous, I don’t know what does! So before we drown our readers with all this glam, let’s talk about what we’re here to talk about, you! Where are you from originally?
RB: I’m originally from Williamsville, NY which is in Buffalo.
CD: Buffalo? So this must practically be shorts weather for you then!
RB: More like thong weather, I don’t know why everyone in NYC is complaining!
CD: Did you get started in drag just so you could wear high heels to see above all the snow drifts in Buffalo?
RB: That’s definitely why I started. No, I actually got started doing drag because I never realized how glamorous and fulfilling it could be.
CD: What was your first exposure to the world of drag?
RB: It was in Buffalo at the local gay club Marcella’s. I went with my then boyfriend and saw Mimi Imfurst and the local queens. I was actually terrified! The Buffalo queens paint really hard and my little 18 year old self wasn’t ready, henny! Fast forward to two and a half years ago I saw Schwa De Vivre and Alexis Michelle at The West End for Superwoman and fell in love with drag entirely!
CD: What was it about Alexis and Schwa’s show that got you bitten by the drag bug?
RB: The two of them have an indescribable energy that fills a room and make you feel like you’re having the best night of your life. That’s something I wanted to bring to people myself. I’d also been watching Drag Race excessively at the time so it all went hand in hand. At the time I was very “I’m going to be on Broadway” and the thought of doing drag wasn’t appealing to me until I discovered the world and fell in love.
CD: So on the spot you basically wanted in?
RB: Oh definitely. And it’s funny because when I was in college I was practicing makeup because I wanted to be a makeup artist. I was very vocal about not wanting to do drag even though I had wigs and costumes already. I was just avoiding the inevitable. I’ve done that all my life though. “You’re gay” “no I’m not” “you’re a drag queen” “no I’m not” and yet, here I am. Gayer than the 4th of July and one of NYC’s up and coming new queens!
CD: The 4th of July is gay now too? I had hunch!
RB: I mean, fireworks…need I say more?
CD: Point taken. So when was you first time getting into drag?
RB: My first time was in college for Halloween. I was at SUNY Fredonia with Kimmi Moore and we both did drag for Halloween that year. She was Britney Spears and I was just a fabulous girl. Both of which have come to play in our drag careers! It was a fun night! Everyone just thought I was a girl going out for the night.
CD: Oh come on! Halloween? Could you be more of a cliche?
RB: Hey, it happens! At least I’m doing well for myself!
CD: So as far as drag queens in New York City who came here with Broadway dreams and ended up in drag, adding you in brings the grand total to…..all of them! What was your theatrical background before coming to New York?
RB: I was doing community theater, I was always working and was constantly doing shows there and having a good time. My favorite productions I had done were Legally Blonde and Damn Yankees.
CD: What was the next step in your drag career after that fateful halloween?
RB: I first guested at Superwoman with Alexis and Schwa! The West End is where I took my first steps! I had been practicing at home for a while so I could find the face & personality I wanted to present to the world.
CD: Where did the name Ritzy Bitz come from?
RB: It was from Schwa De Vivre. I was walking in to their show late one time and she called me out on mic for being tardy and decided to say I looked like a little “ritz cracker” I went over to my friends who knew I wanted to start drag and they said my drag name should be Ritzy. It just felt right.
CD: Ugh, now I want some Ritz crackers and almond butter! My ass is big enough as is so thanks for that Ritzy!
RB: Haha the peanut butter kind were my favorite snack growing up!
CD: One of the things I have been talking about in this series with the younger queens in the city is the period of change that the New York City drag scene is going through, since some of the more established queens have moved on to new cities or new phases of their careers. What changes have you seen in the time that you’ve been a part of and for that matter, have been following the NYC drag scene?
RB: Everyone’s makeup has gotten insanely better. The performances are smarter and more evolved. Drag has elevated to an art form of entertainment in this city that is equivalent to Broadway caliber.
CD: The makeup has definitely gotten better but do think its also gotten redundant? I see a lot of recurring faces out there in the drag world in the last year or so.
RB: I think Instagram has got a lot to do with that. So many people are creating these styles of makeup that other people are then also emulating in their style.
CD: I think you’re on the money with Instragram. I know a lot of queens look at my page so they know what not to do!
RB: Haha! Well I hope some people look to mine sometime! I’m always trying out new tricks!
CD: Like I had mentioned before, with some of the more established queens in the city moving on to new projects and phases in their careers, there is a bit of a vacuum at the top of the NYC drag scene. Who do you think is poised to fill that void?
RB: Hmm I definitely feel like Monet (X. Change) and (Miz) Cracker will really rise to the top. Other than that I think it’s anyone’s game. We are all bringing some good fire to the scene.
CD: What do you feel that you bring the scene that is unique? What makes Ritzy stand out from the crowd?
RB: Ah, I’m trying to fuse Pop-Star with Showgirl for my drag. The direction I’m taking my material in is very that. I’m just excited to have two weekly shows to expand that!
CD: Perfect segue there my dear! You recently won the C’mon Wednesday competition at The West End and got your own show for your efforts. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
RB: Well I had won Miss West End last year and at the time I didn’t feel I was ready for a show. I had a lot of work to do on myself to figure out my drag. When John Forslund approached me to talk about the competition I realized it was time. I was ready to have something of my own. I’d been working towards it for so long. When I started the competition I knew I had to just bring my absolute best and I felt that I did. I was talented, relatable, vulnerable, comical. I was someone the audience would fall in love with. It was a lot of hard work on my end to bring that energy with me but somehow I nailed it.
CD: So what is the name of your show and when does it start? Tell us a little about your vision for it?
RB: Well we are keeping the name “C’mon Wednesday” because it’s already well known. It starts on February 24th and I’m so excited for it. We are going to combine karaoke and drag. I’ll ring in the night with a few performances and I’ll also be singing live. I want to encourage people to not only do your standard karaoke, but to come and have fun. Do a group number or put on a little number, sing for us and put on a show! It’s gonna be a great night out!
CD: Beyond your new show, where else can people come see perform and then stuff money in your undies?
RB: I’ll be at Boots & Saddle every Wednesday from 6-8pm with Flippe Kikee! I just had my first official show and couldn’t be happier to be with the Boots family.
CD: I love the diversity of talent at Boots although those stairs are going to be the death of me one night!
RB: Haha I’m surprised I haven’t yet!
CD: They need a drag queen elevator to be quite honest.
RB: That would definitely be preferred
CD: Looking ahead, what kind of goals do you have for yourself as a performer?
RB: I’m starting to look towards pageantry. That seems like something I would enjoy a lot. I also would like to do a Stonewall Invasion. I’ve got some great ideas for that. If not then I guess I’ll just have to write my own show!
CD: Well my dear, I think we have just about reached the end here. Thank you so much for your time tonight Ritzy. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with our readers before we call it a night?
RB: Never limit your potential because of the fear of being judged.
Photographs courtesy of Jenn Witek Photography