I first met the performer known as Mercy back in 2015 when I was co-producer and co-host of the annual Southwest Burlesque Showcase. A savvy self promoter and a fiery performer (literally—flames have often been involved), Mercy Histrio has since parlayed her on-stage talents into a string of successes. She took the stage at five consecutive Rock the Ink Music Festival & Tattoo Conventions at Santa Ana Star. She wowed audiences at New York’s premier Pride event Siren, along with Harley Davidson’s Bike Week. She launched the all-girl circus roadshow Bio Dolls. She worked as an actress and stunt performer in Michael Bay's 2019 thriller 6 Underground—which led to a cameo in Lana Wachowski's recent film The Matrix Resurrections. And now our gal Mercy is on the verge of becoming an electronic music star after a song of hers was prominently featured in a smash hit Indian film.
With the multi-talented entertainer putting the finishing touches on her first EP and gearing up for a return visit to Albuquerque, I seized the opportunity to play catch-up on Mercy's burgeoning career and inspiring success story.
The Paper.: How much time did you spend here in Albuquerque back in the day?
Mercy: I wasn't actually born there. I was born in California. But when I was 15, my mom and my stepdad lost their jobs. We moved out to Albuquerque because they found steady work there. My stepdad was abusive, so I actually ran away. I lived on the streets of Vegas for a while. And then eventually made it back to California. But I kind of lost my path for a while, and I dealt with a lot of substance abuse in California. I actually went and applied to UNM and was granted a transfer. So, I came out there. I was 19 or 20 when I came back on my own terms. It was like coming home, you know? Honestly, Mercy was born there. I took my "nom de plume" from there. My first stage performance ever was Rock the Ink in 2010 when I won the pageant. I wasn't born there, but Mercy definitely was born there.
Sounds like you came into yourself as a performer in Albuquerque.
Absolutely. I was kind of in music in my teens, but not really. I did acting when I was younger, but fell out of that as well. Then it was not until I returned to Albuquerque that I started modeling under "Mercy." Then I did The Stage [at Santa Ana Star Casino] in 2010 and burlesque with Rock the Ink. And that's really where she was born. I really found this passion for it. At the time I was attending UNM. I graduated with honors—'cause, thank you, UNM. It was amazing. I also rekindled my love of acting in New Mexico. I worked on Maze Runner and Shot Caller and Crash 2 and did all of that in Albuquerque.
Since then, your resume includes modeling, burlesque, acting, stunt work, music. How has this thing grown on you over the years?
So, I met my husband when he was filming Horse Soldiers in Albuquerque. At the time I had just developed my own all-girl circus called Bio Dolls, and I was getting ready to tour. My husband saw this talent in me, and we started dating. And I left for tour, because I'm very stubborn and I was gonna do this come hell or high water. Funny enough, now I'm developing a project about this story. And my husband is going to be directing it. And we're gonna be shooting it in Albuquerque, because that's where it all started!
So this will be based on your own personal story?
Yeah, my personal story. It's based on all of the events that happened with creating Bio Dolls. And my coming into music, basically. He was the one. I was struggling to put this all-girl circus together, and he heard me singing and he was, like, "Why aren't you chasing that?" And I was, like, "Well, I don't want to be a struggling artist like every other musician." And he was, like, "OK, cool, be a starving circus person." I was, like, "Uh. Oh. Good point."
And your husband is?
My husband is Garrett Grant. He produced Horse Soldiers, 6 Underground, The Matrix, Resurrections, Rock of Ages, Hairspray. And he was working on Horse Soldiers at the time when I met him in Albuquerque. So I literally have to thank Albuquerque for the love of my life as well. He's amazing. We met there. He's my manager, and he also directs all my music videos. And he's gonna be directing this upcoming TV project about my traveling circus.
Do you have any timeline on when that might happen?
Yeah. We're hoping to start filming next summer. I'm hoping to do a show, a live performance, by the end of the year. And then when I come to to do that, we're gonna do some scouting on locations for the TV project. I'm super excited to be home. I miss it like crazy.
I got very lucky, I would say, in the last couple years, because I've been able to meet with other fellow New Mexicans—like I was working on The Matrix with Neil Patrick Harris and it was so funny because, while we were filming, I didn't realize he was a New Mexican. And then when I found out, I turned to him and we both sang Everyone's a Lobo, woof, woof, woof! Everyone on set just looked at us like, "What's going on?" And we're like, "It's a Lobo thing. You wouldn't understand." And then I was really blessed; I got to work with the Maloofs, who are also native New Mexicans. So, I've been missing coming home a lot, but I've been lucky enough to surround myself with some amazing New Mexicans.
Seems like, in the last year or so, your music has really taken center stage. You've dropped three singles so far. How did that happen?
So, I started in 2019 working on my EP. At the time we were shooting a film called Saaho in India. I was working as a director's assistant and my husband was working as a line producer for the action team. And we got be close friends with the lead, Prabhas, who is an amazing, amazing actor. Amazing all-over person. And Garrett told him, "Oh, yeah, what she really does, she's a singer." So he turned to me and was just, flat-out, "I want you to sing a song for my movie." Literally, it went so fast, the next month I was recording this song ["Bhaag (Saaho Bang Bang)"]. When it came out, it's in both the trailer and movie. But the trailer got a hundred and eleven million views across seven different languages. In one week. So it kind of skyrocketed. It was so unexpected. I wasn't even prepared. I wasn't done with my EP.
We rushed to finish some music during it, and right when I was beginning to release some music and it was, like, 2020, we got the calls that we were working on The Matrix. So, we were like, "OK, I'll release once I'm mid-working on The Matrix cause it's good timing." And then COVID hit. And everything stopped. I took a break. I didn't really release any music during that time. And it wasn't until just recently, about a year ago, we started releasing the music again. I shot my music video for "Going Down"—also "Lovesick," which is coming out in about a month—I shot both of those music videos while I was filming The Matrix. Now I can finally release some of it! Some of these are a little bit older and I've been waiting. The whole pandemic just put everything on hold.
You still managed to get out there. You performed in Europe. You did a massive show in Palm Springs earlier this year.
Yeah! Not really touring full-blown, but made some wonderful friends within the LGBT community. I've been in the community a long time. I've been performing as a fire performer. Me, myself, being a part of the LGBT community, it was very meaningful that I was able to bring my music into it. So I was able to open for Pride in Ibiza. That was phenomenal. And then, also, I opened for Paula Abdul at White Party in Palm Springs [in May of 2022], so that was incredible. And then I might have—it's undecided, so it's undisclosed—I might have another Pride performance later this year.
We just celebrated Pride here in Albuquerque.
I'm so excited, honestly. My first Pride I ever went to was Albuquerque Pride. It was amazing. And honestly—even though I came out when I was in high school—I never felt more supported then when I was in Albuquerque. I love the community there. I can't say enough, because I love every single one of 'em.
So you're hoping to come back by the end of the year and grace us with a performance. Any idea where?
Yes! We're not sure yet. I've got my eyes on a couple special spaces because I worked Downtown, so I have some love. And I've also performed in a few of those places. Been to Sister Bar and performed there. Been to the Launchpad and performed there. So I have some heart favorites. We're working on it.
How do you talk about your music? How do you describe it, stylistically?
I describe it as alt.pop or electro-pop with circus flair. I'm always gonna be a circus lady at heart. That will never leave me.
What do your live performances look like?
I have a lot of choreography. I have a lot of dance. That definitely came from burlesque. And I will always have big costumes—another tie-in from burlesque. My goal, one day, is to hire some of the ladies that I had the privilege of working with. To have them perform while I perform. Because that would just be the icing on the cake for me. So, right now I do some aerial during it, lots of choreography, dance, pyrotechnics and, of course, I fire breathe.
What has been the response from live audiences?
It's been amazing. Unexpected at first. It's hard to get into a new artist sometimes. But I've had nothing but welcoming arms. Honestly, I've had so much fun. Everyone at my shows has made it just such a magical experience for me. But it's like coming home, getting back on stage. Like I said, when I first stepped out on stage at Rock the Ink, I was like, "Oh, this is what I'm meant to do for the rest of my life!"
You can follow Mercy Histrio on Facebook or check out her music on her official YouTube channel.
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