Drag Race Winner Bianca Del Rio: "Maybe I Shouldn't Have Said It, but I'm Not Going to Apologize"
Since winning the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio has emerged as America's last great insult comedian. No one is spared her acid tongue: friends, enemies, fans, even herself.
For four shows this weekend, the reigning drag royalty will bring her "Rolodex of Hate" to South Florida for four shows across two cities. We got a chance to catch up with Bianca yesterday while she was preparing for a show in Vermont.
New Times: The last time you were in Fort Lauderdale, you were at the Manor the weekend after you got crowned. How does the "Rolodex of Hate" show differ from the nightclub act fans might have seen there?
Bianca Del Rio: Since Drag Race, I've been traveling, doing 20 to 30 minutes audience participation appearances, which is what I did at the Manor that particular night. Which is not what I do for my show. My show is a full hour-and-15-minute show, and it's more standup as opposed to being at the scene of the crime with a bunch of people who are drinking. This is more of a sit-down-and-watch-the-show situation, but it's the same type of humor nonetheless. Don't think I've turned into Pollyanna!
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Usually a lot of queens from Drag Race will travel and do a number, but for me I'm already doing 15 to 20 minutes more than most of them are doing. So this is an opportunity to do a full show. This show kind of explains who I am and where I came from and why I turned out to be the way that I am.
You're kind of America's last great insult comic, and on the show, you were very blunt and "take it or leave it." Because I'm going through Drag Race withdrawal, I've been watching a bit of [Drag Race judge] Michelle Visage on British Celebrity Big Brother where she's trapped in a house with Perez Hilton, who tries to play that game, but it's coming off like Laganja Estranja times ten. Where do you draw the line so that you come off entertaining and not annoying or offensive?
I think you have to know that you're the biggest joke there is, and a lot of people don't do that. I'm aware of my faults, and I'm not afraid if someone calls them out. Really, few people sit back and know that about themselves. Doing drag, I figured that out, and I'm not afraid of it. A lot of people can be very "sensitive Sally," but for me, it's like, don't start it if you don't want to finish it.
I think we live in a world now where everything is so PC, and if it's not your cup of tea, then it's not your cup of tea. I'm not fond of the Kardashians, but I don't watch their shows, I don't buy a magazine if they're on it, and I don't go to their Facebook page and say, "You suck." I don't care, so I don't contribute to it. I think because of social media, people feel the need to lash out at all these different things. And that's great, that's your opinion, but it doesn't affect me. Just because it's your opinion doesn't make you right.
I think what helped with this whole RuPaul's Drag Race experience is I didn't know what would be used in the final edit of the show, but I knew if I said it, I had to stand by it. A lot of other queens come back and say, "Oh, it's the editing." Well, of course it's the editing. It's a 15-hour day that we film, and it's going to be cut down to 45 minutes with commercials. So you have to be aware and edit yourself, and a lot of people don't do that.
If I cross the line, then maybe I shouldn't have said it. But I'm not going to apologize. C'mon, you're listening to a drag queen in a venue at 10 o'clock at night; consider the source. It's not the White House. It's more or less my opinion and my view. Take it or leave it.
Unlike some contestants who come out of nowhere, before Drag Race, you were a pretty established performer in New York. There's a select group of queens with no affiliation with the show who can tour the country. Do you think you would have gotten to that level without the show?
For many years, I was just lucky to work, because that gives you the training. To be able to live in New York City and work in drag and do costume work is pretty amazing, but I'd also had friends who had done the show and seen what it did for their careers. I thought, "Let's give it a shot." I wasn't established on the level where I was a Lady Bunny or Sherry Vine or Jackie Beat and in that age group. But I wasn't 20 and fresh on the scene, so I thought, what did I have to lose? So I didn't tell anybody that I auditioned. If it wouldn't have turned out, then I never would have mentioned it.
I think some of the younger drag queens think the show is the pinnacle, and that's it. Sure, it's an amazing opportunity, but you have to have skills in order to last. What's the point of getting on the show if you get sent home first? Darienne Lake said it best. It's like finally getting to go in Hawaii and immediately falling in the volcano.
Right? It's one of the few reality-show competitions where a lot of the contestants actually go on to do big things in their field, as opposed to just disappearing afterward.
What's amazing about the show is if you can't sing, dance, act, or do comedy on some level, you won't last. The show wants people to represent the show and who are going to work. It opens a lot of doors, but never do I sit back and eat bonbons and think "Oh, I'm living the life." It's harder work now than it ever was.
You're also playing in Miami, which has a big Cuban population. Do you think you get some of your humor from your Cuban side?
Look, funny is funny, and it comes from everywhere. The weird thing is people ask me about playing different audience, "What's the difference between this one and that?" And the answer is literally: three drinks and it's all the same. Three drinks for me. Three drinks for the audience.
The great thing about getting to do this show is to play for people from all different walks of life. A lot of time, the majority of the audience is straight women. Which I'm fascinated by. I had no idea straight women watched Drag Race.
The other neat thing with this theater show is it's people who actually want to see you, and not just people who happen to be at the bar that night. I'm anxious for any audience that's awake, that's alive, and that's ready to have a good time.
No one seems to know when season 7 will start, which I guess just means your reign is extended, but have you gotten a chance to check out and form an opinion on the new crop of queens?
No, I haven't. The odd thing is I'm aware of two because they're New York-based. Miss Fame, I'm aware of her. Not as a performer but as a makeup artist. We have a lot of mutual friends. I didn't even know she was on the show.
And I'm aware of Ms. Kasha Davis, because we worked together once when I was upstate, and I met Katya. She came to my show in Boston. She came backstage and was very sweet after.
I think the big misconception is that everyone thinks we all know each other and have this drag newsletter where we all keep up. I haven't had time to look, and also it spoils it. I'd rather just watch. I had a hard enough time last year withholding information, because all it takes is one night at a bar where I start talking shit like, "Well, she said this is what happened," and I don't want that responsibility.
You're doing this tour and you have your YouTube series, but do you have any other big projects coming up? I know you have the movie, Hurricane Bianca, you're going to shoot this year.
Yeah, we're doing the movie. We're filming in July. I'm excited about that, because it's been a project that's been in the works for a while. When the Drag Race process started, it kept snowballing, and I didn't have any time to set aside to do it. So we finally blocked out a couple of weeks to do it in July. I'm looking forward to it, because it'll be fun to be in one place for a minute, because I've been traveling extensively. It's been a project that's been a part of my life for the past five years, so to finally make it happen is great. It's a testament to the power of television. The opportunities have been endless, and I'm grateful.
Bianca Del Rio's "Rolodex of Hate" show will come to the Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday for two shows, at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets start at $35. She'll also be performing at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach on Saturday. Bianca will also return to Broward in April as part of the Drag Race Battles of the Seasons tour.
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