// MIZRAHI WITH A ZING

FASH­ION DE­SIGNER TURNED CABARET PER­FORMER ISAAC MIZRAHI BRINGS HIS LARGER-THAN-LIFE PER­SON­AL­ITY TO THE CHICAGO STAGE.

Michigan Avenue - - CONTENTS - BY J.P. AN­DER­SON

Fash­ion de­signer turned cabaret per­former Isaac Mizrahi brings his larger-than-life per­son­al­ity to the Chicago stage.

It’s not so far from the fash­ion run­way to the stage—es­pe­cially when you’re Isaac Mizrahi, the Brook­lyn-bred de­signer who rock­eted to fame in the ’90s at the dawn of the su­per­model age and starred in the in­stant-clas­sic doc­u­men­tary Un­zipped. Hav­ing long dab­bled in cabaret at var­i­ous NYC venues (in­clud­ing an ac­claimed Fe­bru­ary run at the iconic Café Car­lyle), Mizrahi is hit­ting the road with Does This Song Make Me Look Fat?, his not-so-fam­ily-friendly stage act. As he pre­pares for his Chicago de­but at City Win­ery, the Project Run­way All Stars judge re­cently chat­ted with Michi­gan Av­enue about the thrill of per­form­ing, his chang­ing re­la­tion­ship with fash­ion, and what makes cabaret such a kick.

Play­ing the Car­lyle is one thing, but tour­ing is an­other level.

I’m scared to death. I’m not scared of Chicago—chicago to me is very much like New York. I think it’ll be fun. God knows I’ve had dif­fi­cult au­di­ences, but no mat­ter what, it’s al­ways worth it.

What should the au­di­ence ex­pect? It’s not G-rated—how does that sound? There’s a louche kind of qual­ity to the story and [au­di­ences] might not ex­pect that, but maybe now they should.

Have you spent much time here? I used to spend tons of time in

Chicago—there used to be this great store called Ul­timo and I would go there like three times a year. Some­times I in­vent rea­sons to [come here] be­cause it’s such a fun, cool-look­ing city with a vi­brant art scene and a big grasp on cul­ture.

How has your re­la­tion­ship with fash­ion changed since your Un­zipped days?

I feel a lot more re­solve. I’m al­most em­bar­rassed that peo­ple think I cared that much about what was in and out, be­cause that’s what a fash­ion de­signer is sup­posed to re­ally care about. Like, ‘Uh-oh, opaque hose this sea­son, not sheer black hose.’ I don’t care about that stuff, and frankly I find it’s a dead idea. What I loved was tex­tiles and the de­sign of some­thing, and I still do.

What do you en­joy most about per­form­ing?

The first mo­ments of get­ting up on­stage. You’re so scared but en­er­gized and ex­cited to be there—you’re look­ing right out of the the can­non’s mouth and just about to be shot into obliv­ion. And re­ally, ev­ery per­for­mance is that.

Who are some per­form­ers that have in­spired you?

One of my best friends in the world, San­dra Bern­hard. And Elaine Stritch, Eartha Kitt, Bobby Short… Ev­ery­body has their own style. What’s great about cabaret is that what­ever you pre­pare, you’ve got in your back pocket, but the thing that hap­pens when you get in that room with those peo­ple is what hap­pens. And to me, it’s def­i­nitely more ex­cit­ing when you’re not sure what the show’s go­ing to be. It’s a live thing— ev­ery show is dif­fer­ent. Septem­ber 29 at City Win­ery, 1200 W. Ran­dolph St., 312733-9463; city­win­ery.com

“THE FIRST MO­MENTS OF GET­TING ON­STAGE, YOU’RE LOOK­ING RIGHT OUT OF THE CAN­NON’S MOUTH AND JUST ABOUT TO BE SHOT INTO OBLIV­ION.” —ISAAC MIZRAHI

Af­ter an ac­claimed Fe­bru­ary 2017 run at Café Car­lyle in New York City, fash­ion fig­ure ex­traor­di­naire Isaac Mizrahi is bring­ing his cabaret act to Chicago.

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