Denver’s eclectic nightlife boasts a rich tapestry of performers, but few shine as brightly or as uniquely as Enzo Benzo. Strutting confidently at the intersection of bold drag and sultry burlesque, Enzo has established a performance signature that’s both punchy and sensuous. For the lucky audience members who’ve been part of the Enzo experience, it’s a theatrical ride they’re not likely to forget.
Being a massive fan of both drag and burlesque, I’m beyond excited to sit down with Enzo. In our conversation, we delve deep into the world of drag, burlesque, and the squishy bits in between. So whether you’re a lifelong fan or just discovering the Denver scene, come join us for a sparkling chat with the inimitable Enzo Benzo.
Interview With Enzo Benzo
GayDenver: Who is Enzo Benzo? How would you describe them?
Enzo Benzo: My background is in theater; that’s what I earned my degree in. I attended the Theater Conservatory at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, so I’ve been immersed in the world of art for a long time. I’d say that at least 50% of Enzo’s identity is tied to weed. My affinity for marijuana is truly therapeutic, and a big part of my creation process and unleashing my artistic potential. Another way to describe Enzo would be as someone who is notably living large and 100% confident in their choices without coming across as conceited. They’re also open to stepping outside of their comfort zone at any given moment.
GayDenver: How long have you been doing drag?
Enzo Benzo: I’ve been navigating the Denver scene for about a year now, and my 5th artistic anniversary is coming up next July. I got started in Boise, Idaho; that is where my burlesque and drag career found its roots. Fast forward from a decade ago, I can comfortably say that 29-year-old Enzo Benzo knows exactly who they are and the kind of art they want to create. It’s been a beautiful journey, finding myself in the art that also translates into my actual life outside of performing. After performing for two or three years, I became more comfortable with my sexuality and began exploring a non-binary identity.
We moved here a year ago, and while I’ve made my splash here and there locally, I’ve also seized the massive opportunity to perform on different stages across the US and pretty soon going International with big burlesque festivals. This summer, I performed for the Fierce Queer Arts Performing Festival in Ohio and the Land of the Sky Burlesque Festival in Asheville, North Carolina. I was recently accepted into the Mexico Burlesque Festival, Isle of Tease Burlesque Festival in Victoria, BC, and last but not least, the Panama International Burlesque Festival, taking this act internationally! I have another announcement up my sleeve that I’m not ready to put out there yet. Still, I keep earning my spot in these platforms to share my art everywhere, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing – being able to share that artistic vision with other people.
GayDenver: What inspired Enzo Benzo?
Enzo Benzo: It might sound cliché, but Lady Gaga has always been that artist for me. She’s been an inspiration due to her ability to perform and blend various forms of art seamlessly. The way she moved and expressed herself on stage was something I aspired to. Beyoncé is definitely another one of my inspirations. I remember watching Beyoncé’s videos while growing up; it was a significant influence in my movement. Precise, pristine, powerhouse movement.
I’d also say Liza Minnelli and even Austin Powers, as cheesy as it may sound, have played a role. They were incredibly musical, and everything seemed to sync perfectly, even when it seemed impossible to dance to a particular type of music. Finding different beats and rhythms, especially the various trumpets, has greatly influenced my movement style. I still use these inspirations today whenever I’m engaged in a creative practice or choreographing something. So, those three artists have had a significant impact on me.
GayDenver: How did you get started in drag?
Enzo Benzo: Initially, I was intrigued by a novice burlesque competition at Boise’s well-known gay bar, The Balcony Club.
A fun poster caught our eyes during a karaoke night and thought, “Oh, we should totally do this.” It was a whimsical idea, conceived in a mix of playful drunkenness and genuine curiosity.
When it was time to submit a video to enter the competition, my fiance popped into the room, reminding me, “Hey, today’s the last day. Do you need help recording that video?” I answered, “Oh, I was just kidding, babe. I don’t think I’m going to jump into a burlesque competition, you know?” Although my background mainly lies in theater and performance art, which evidently influences my current performances, that’s how I got my start.
The competition spanned eight weeks and, to my delight, I landed as First Runner Up – not bad for my first-ever competition and dabbling in that specific art form. Later that year, 2019, I participated in a production of La Cage aux Folles at The Alley Repertory Theater in Boise, which threw me into drag and allowed me to deeply immerse myself in the community and the beautiful art form itself. From then on, I thought, “I want to do this more. I want to explore beyond this show.”
GayDenver: You mention how important being kind is, what experiences made this so important to you?
Enzo Benzo: It’s evident that internalized homophobia stemming from being raised in a strict Christian household has played a significant role in Enzo’s journey and their relationship with their art. In their everyday life, seeking mental health support and therapy has been transformative. It has allowed them to channel their feelings and experiences into the creation of Enzo Benzo, which has become an integral part of their identity.
Initially, there were reservations and internal conflicts when Enzo started exploring the club scene at the age of eighteen. The societal pressure to conform to certain expectations was a challenging hurdle to overcome. However, Enzo’s journey has been instrumental in breaking free from these constraints and living their truth to the fullest.
Enzo’s transformation has been profound, allowing them to carry the confidence and authenticity they display on stage into their everyday life. This positive change has been influenced by their lived experiences, trauma, and the therapeutic support they received. They have channeled these experiences into their art, making it a vital and empowering aspect of their daily existence.
Since moving to Denver, Enzo feels a newfound sense of comfort and confidence, marking a high point in their life journey.
GayDenver: If you could put anything on a billboard what would it be?
Enzo Benzo: “Be Gay, Do Crime.”
GayDenver: Do you consider yourself a drag or burlesque?
Enzo Benzo: Certainly, that’s a great question. First and foremost, I consider myself an artist, and diving deep into the fundamentals of the art form has been spectacular for my development. In my career, I’ve experienced a lot, and now, the way I define myself is as a multidisciplinary artist. This classification is essential because my multifaceted nature is not only a part of my everyday life as a person, but also plays a significant role in my art. As an artist, I have various facets, and I don’t want to be confined to a single label. To put it simply, I don’t want to be boxed in. I’d prefer to be known as a multifaceted artist who can seamlessly transition between different artistic expressions. For instance, I can go from performing in a musical to creating something sensual and classic, and then switch to something more intense, even bordering on the gory side. If you’ve been to Bang Bang Denver, you might have seen how I bring a unique aspect to the performance there. However, I also recognize the importance of identifying under one overarching theme or label.
GayDenver: Where did you get your name?
Enzo Benzo: Well, my real name is Lorenzo, and it’s always been quite simple. People would often call me Enzo in the Benzo. Once, during a summer camp, a camper suggested a new nickname for me: “Enzo Benzo.” They found it easy to remember and fun to say. And that’s how the name came to be.
GayDenver: Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you wanted to discuss?
Enzo Benzo: It’s crucial to emphasize inclusivity and the vastness of our scene. We’re fortunate to be part of such a vibrant and extensive community where there’s space for everyone at the table. Regardless of your level of experience, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned performer with years of practice, there’s room for all of us to participate and contribute.
We should never be in the business of excluding anyone. Instead, we should always welcome those who want to explore and try their hand at this art form. Many individuals have a genuine desire to engage in this art, and we should encourage and support them in their endeavors.
It’s essential to maintain an open dialogue and ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. There’s an abundance of opportunities, and it would be a disservice not to make room for everyone to partake and thrive. There’s more than enough to go around for all of us, and it’s by embracing diversity and inclusion that our community truly flourishes.
GayDenver: Is there anything you would like to say to the readers directly?
Enzo Benzo: If there’s something that you’ve been yearning to do for a very long time now, life is short. Take the plunge, do the thing. Whether it’s learning how to ride a bike, or going to therapy, go do it! I want to be that supportive person for you, this is your sign to do whatever you’ve been holding off on whatever big task that you feel like you have put on the backburner. DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR CURRENT SKILLS OR OBSTACLES. You’ll never know until you do it. So go do it, friends.