Cabaret star Lady Rizo talks to Rebecca Monks about motherhood, her alter ego and the quest for women to just ‘be’

W hen I speak to Lady Rizo, she is breastfeeding. We’re connected over a patchy phone line from Edinburgh to New York on a mid-August afternoon, which is possibly the only time of year that Auld Reekie is noisier and louder than NYC. There’s a car alarm going off on the Royal Mile, mere feet away from where I sit hunched over a landline, while street performers and promoters alike do their best to be heard over the strident wailing of the thing. Life on my end is clamorously hectic, but an ocean away, the cabaret star sits peacefully, her new baby at her breast, calmly musing about life, art, and the wonderful slog of the Fringe that awaits her. This sums her up perfectly: thoughtful, honest and unafraid to be exactly who she is.

The singer’s new show, Multiplied, is all about her recent plunge into the world of motherhood, exploring son Tennyson’s life from conception to birth. She’s breastfeeding on the promotional material too, and when I ask if this is a supportive statement connected to the recent Free the Nipple movement, she explains that it’s not really any kind of statement at all. It’s just life, for goodness’ sake. ‘It’s reality,’ she says, occasionally going quiet for moments as she tends to her son. ‘If reality is political, then so be it. I think that more exposure of women doing and being what they are without apology is

important in the world, and unfortunately we’re still in a world where the quest for women to just “be” is still going on.’

While Lady Rizo seems to have no problem ‘being’, it’s important to remember that she is actually ‘being’ a character, created by American comedian and chanteuse Amelia Zirin-Brown. The life, the love, the baby, they all belong to Amelia, but the show? That belongs to Rizo. ‘I love the melding of reality and fantasy,’ she says, explaining how she comes to construct her autobiographical performances. ‘Where I i nd the reality is in the truth of my particular circumstances. Humour is crouching within truth, always. That’s my own personal process.

‘It’s like I’m looking at my life through the lens of an alter ego. Lady Rizo is able to look at it all with humour and sensuality and glamour and palpable joy. She never has to deal with paying tax. She lives in the world that we all want to be living in, which is decadent, fun, social, spiritual and sexy. She grabs life by the cheeks.’ Lady Rizo and Amelia will both be doing their fair share of cheek grabbing this month, with Multiplied going centre stage at Assembly Checkpoint for the latter half of the festival. The show is a mix of songs and stories, and when it comes to the bare-knuckle i ght that is the Fringe, she’s more than ready to battle her way through the crowds and the critics.

‘I guess it is like being in a war,’ she says, rel ecting on the frenzied nature of Edinburgh in August. She’s using military vernacular, but

18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 11