Rio returns to roots to re-launch Rotherham Pride event

Rio - AKA  Delia Deck - is returning to Rotherham to re-launch the town's Pride eventRio - AKA  Delia Deck - is returning to Rotherham to re-launch the town's Pride event
Rio - AKA Delia Deck - is returning to Rotherham to re-launch the town's Pride event
FROM school plimsolls to six-inch high heels – Rio Slaney-Sanchez is returning to his home town this weekend to re-launch Rotherham Pride as alter-ego drag queen Delia Deck.

The former Oakwood pupil will co-host the event – which returns to the borough after a five-year hiatus - on Saturday (June 8) from 11am in All Saints Square.

Now living in Blackpool, he has a weekly cabaret residency at the Mardi Gras Hotel – a comedy-drag show where Delia performs alongside husband River in the roles of DJ, puppeteer and magician.

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But the Rotherham-born entertainer is getting back to his roots.

Rio Sanchez AKA Delia DeckRio Sanchez AKA Delia Deck
Rio Sanchez AKA Delia Deck

“I grew up on Moorgate,” said Rio.

“Sadly I lost my mum when I was 13 but my dad still lives in Rotherham.”

A former professional ice skater in the early 90s, he trained at IceSheffield.

“I used to see all the showgirls in their colourful outfits with large feathers and sequins and thought 'I want to wear that instead of a top hat and tails!'”

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He “sort of fell into drag” while living in Leeds after successfully auditioning at The Birdcage and has also performed at Lingards Nightclub in Bradford.

“Now I am the second professional drag queen to come out of Rotherham after Myra DuBois!” he laughs.

And while Myra took part in ITV's Britain's Got Talent in 2020, Rio and River found small-screen fame on Channel 5 show 'Bargain Loving Brits Living by the Sea'.

“It showed our quiet lives at home drinking tea,” said Rio, “and then the showbiz side with two men in their 40s in wigs traipsing around on stage in six-inch heels!”

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With the focus on his old stomping ground, Rio said: “I've never really performed in Rotherham before – except for theatre or dance school shows at Rotherham Civic as a kid – so it's an absolute honour to be asked and I hope to do my home town proud.

“I'm excited to co-host this amazing and inclusive event with another local drag performer called Trash who is from Barnsley.

“Our guest performers will include Dene Michael from (eighties chart-toppers) Black Lace and (UK Eurovision entry, singer and actor) Olly Alexander tribute, Starstruck.”

Other acts include award-winning dance schools Rotherham Dance Centre – Studio 1 and The Thompson Dance Studios, plus family-friendly routines from Rotherham Burlesque Chair Dance.

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“I'm looking forward to seeing old school friends,” added Rio. “Last time they saw me I was 16 and just leaving Oakwood Comp in my school uniform.

“Now I'll be on stage in high heels and a massive wig!”

Mat Dyson, head of the Rotherham Pride committee, said: “We have a jam-packed, free day of family fun with a great range of stalls from tasty treats and bespoke gifts to information, advice and some amazing workshops.

“We have scoured the country and are bringing back many acts who have flown the nest from Rotherham, headlined past Prides or are up-and-coming and ready to amaze.

“If this isn’t enough, we are showcasing some incredible local performers who are well on their way on their journey to stardom.”

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