Lynzo the Heartthrob Credit: Moishe

I can’t remember where exactly I was introduced to nightlife icon Lynzo the Heartthrob, because they frequent so many places where it might’ve happened. Raised in Hyde Park, Lynzo is a self-taught and constantly booked drag artist, burlesque performer, and exotic dancer; an event curator; a queer and trans plus-size stylist; an activist for sex workers’ rights; an emcee and host; a creative director for photo shoots; and a coproducer of Hoochie Hotspot, a year-old sex-worker-run event-production company, which I included in a 2022 Reader roundup of new Chicago BIPOC and/or queer events.

Once you dip your toe in the Boystown drag scene, Heartthrob is one of a few faces you’ll come to recognize immediately. But they developed their passion and skill for curating spaces for Black femmes before segregated Boystown stages would give them a chance to shine. In 2016, at age 21, they started working as an event-booking manager for arts organization and digital magazine AMFM, helping curate and execute events from start to finish on a two-person team for two years. Beginning in 2018, they cohosted Rich Jones’s music series All Smiles for its last year and a half at the Tonic Room (which has since reopened as the Golden Dagger). Around the same time, they began teaching themselves sensual movement, which they paired with their childhood experiences in competitive ballet, jazz, and hip-hop dance in order to learn burlesque.

The Heartthrob considers their first drag performance to be a 2018 lip-synch competition at Cole’s Bar, where they won $20 and a bottle of vodka mouthing the words to Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” while wearing a massive, flowing pink satin top. They’ve since joined the arsenal of people making drag and burlesque stages throughout the city more accessible for Black and Brown folks. Lynzo, here are your flowers.

Best of Chicago 2022 is presented by