As Brooklyn’s self-proclaimed “premiere slutty sad girl,” Rify Royalty (@rify_royalty) is a drag performer, artist and producer who embraces the unexpected when it comes to her work, gender expression and onstage looks.
“Anyone can do drag,” Rify says. “You just have to be entertaining. I don’t care about your gender, where you come from or what you look like. You just need to be fab.
Growing up, Rify always had a love of attention and the spotlight, having been involved in a range of clubs, from drama and choir to student council and fashion. Rify saw her first drag performance as a senior in high school. “I remember the show starting shortly after midnight, and I was just so blown away by the looks, by the craftsmanship, by everything. It was just a very magical first experience,” she reflects.
Despite this magical experience, Rify’s drag career wasn’t planned. “Rify Royalty happened kind of by accident one year during Pride when a friend of mine asked if we could dress up together,” she says. “I would go out to parties dressed up, you know, it was an artistic outlet. And then I started getting hired to go-go dance.”
From there, Rify would take nightlife gigs while maintaining her day job working at a cosmetics counter in a department store. Realizing how much she enjoyed drag entertainment, Rify started taking more jobs and performance gigs and never went back to retail. “Now I’m doing drag, but I still take my clothes off because it’s fun,” she says.
Rify says that when she first started out in the Brooklyn drag scene, it was a very artistic and diverse community driven by self-expression, compared to the Manhattan scene, which was more polished and driven by Broadway glamor. “There was a sense of community,” she says. “It was important to support each other and lift each other up. So I try to support my sisters, and they’ll do the same for me.”
Richy finds the most fun part about drag is creating her look. Her fashion inspirations come from iconic women of the late ’80s and early ’90s — Naomi Campbell, Pamela Anderson and Lil’ Kim, to name a few. “For me, drag has never been about gender illusion so much as it was about just being glam,” she says.
“When you come to one of my shows, have no expectations,” Rify says. “You’re going to get what you’re going to get, and you’re going to love it, you’re going to tip me, you’re going to Tweet me, you’re going to post about me on Instagram, and you’re going to tell all of your friends about me. I want people to know that there are Middle Eastern, Queer drag queens. We exist, we’re out there, we’re very niche Queer people, but I’m happy to represent us.”
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