ORLANDO, Fla. – Leigh Shannon is an actor, comedian, entertainer and small business owner.
The iconic Bette Midler impersonator has starred in sold-out comedy performances at Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando for many years.
“This might shock you, but I did probably about ten sold-out shows at The Villages in the past years,” Shannon said.
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Shannon’s large fan base may not know about his decades-long work as a small business owner. Ritzy Rags began as a consignment shop in 1990 on Mills Avenue.
“We brought in costume wigs with me being an impersonator,” Shannon said.
Wigs, he said, carried a deeper meaning after watching his mother battle breast cancer.
“She was a beautiful woman, and if she’d had breast cancer today, she would’ve lived,” Shannon said.
His mother died at the age of 43. Shannon said one of the most difficult days during her cancer fight was when he went with his mother to pick out her wig. He decided to bring in medical-grade wigs to the consignment shop, and shortly after it was renamed “Ritzy Rags Wigs & More Orlando.”
“All the sudden, I started getting women coming in crying, and they were looking for wigs, they had cancer,” Shannon said.
He said over the years the business has helped patients with several hair loss conditions. During the pandemic, he has helped people dealing with COVID-related hair loss.
“A lot of women are losing their hair if they had COVID, and so they don’t know why but their doctor tells them it’s due to COVID,” Shannon said.
The store moved from Mills Avenue to College Park during the pandemic, but Shannon said it’s never stopped serving the Orlando community and giving clients a boost when they need it most.
“They go out more, and they come to my show, and I make them laugh, I said, ‘Come to my show you’ll have the best hair in the house, except for me,’” Shannon said.
During Pride Month, Shannon said every Saturday night performance at Hamburger Mary’s has been special.
“It’s a huge fan base and these are really, you know kind of very conservative people, and so I’ve been fortunate enough where the business has intertwined with the character of Leigh Shannon,” he said. “Maybe it’ll stop somebody from judging, and in this time, I believe we really need it now.”