Bianca Del Rio talks post-Drag Race success and the secret to comedy ahead of 10/21 National show
Bianca Del Rio is a comedian on a mission. The self-described “clown in a gown” and season six RuPaul’s Drag Race winner is in the midst of an international tour that’s taken her everywhere from Sydney to Cleveland. Despite all this attention and traveling Del Rio (a.k.a. Roy Haylock) still took the time to talk to us via the phone after one of her performances.
“I’ll talk to anyone. I mean look, I’m talking to you?” Del Rio said at the beginning of the interview.
A shameless workaholic, Del Rio’s current comedy tour called “Not Today Satan” forces the comedian in a new city almost every night, though Del Rio wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The audiences are what make it worth it to me, because for the past two years I’ve just been performing so much,” Del Rio said. “It’s nice this time around because it’s a little more spaced out and I can actually get to see some of the cities I’ve performed in before.”
In the ever diverse and competitive world of stand-up comedy, Del Rio has a refreshing view on her own work, never taking herself too seriously. Thanks in part to her stint on Drag Race, Del Rio has been able to reach a larger and much different audience than she ever expected.
“I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’ve already battled that because I’m a drag queen and that was already a turn off to people in general,” she said. “I’m always shocked that the majority of the audience I generate are straight people, which is crazy to me.”
Like many comedians Del Rio knows her comedy isn’t for everyone and doesn’t try and market or perform it that way.
“I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re sensitive get the fuck out!” said Del Rio. “Overall it’s very self-deprecating and funny is funny to me–their are no boundaries.”
The latest season of RuPaul’s All Stars 2 recently wrapped, and due to touring Del Rio was unable to keep up with the show.
“I love them all, but I haven’t seen what assholes they can be on TV this time I’ve only seen reactions on social media,” said Del Rio. “But I’ve been in that bubble and I’m aware of what it’s like. It doesn’t always portray everything the way it is, but I mean they’re creating a television show.”
In previous and seasons, social media has come back to haunt a lot of the contestants on Drag Race, turning them off to social media as a whole. Del Rio doesn’t share these negative experiences, however, and sees it more as a matter of perspective.
“I could give two shits if someone tweets about me, I don’t give a fuck. I’m old enough that I live in a world where there was no Twitter,” she said. “But for some of these queens, that’s the world that they grew up in. Honestly there’s a lot of things in the world I don’t like that I don’t tweet the people about it. I hate Kim Kardashian but I’m not blowing up her page.”
Del Rio may have reached wider fame post-Drag Race season 6, but she had been a mainstay of the drag culture and bar scene since back in the 90s. She cites this experience as helping her maintain her career after reality TV, something that a lot of other drag performers haven’t been able to do.
“A lot queens think ‘oh if I get on drag race I’m set, my life is made’ but I work harder now than I ever have,” she said. “I think the fame and reality show type of thing definitely gives me a false perception of what’s to come. There’s been 100 queens from drag race, name how many of them are still working.”
The show comes off as light-hearted and fun, and while Del Rio said that’s partially true, the show also manages to hide a lot of the stress and challenges that queens face behind the scenes.
“Especially for straight people who watch the show; it’s non-threatening, they see us as boys. 80% of the show is us as boys, introducing ourselves and our lives to them and they get a better idea of who we are,” said Del Rio. “It’s interesting to see the dynamic presented on screen.”
Another concern often lobbed at Drag Race is how its made the careers of drag queens outside of the show more difficult. Del Rio said there’s some truth to that, but a lot of it comes down to the individual performer’s attitudes.
“Whenever I’m at a show or a club with other queens, I try to be as welcoming and respectful as I can be because they already have this perception that you’re going to be a cunt, or a bitch, or a brand,” she said. “But I’ve met some amazing queens all over the world, from Amsterdam to Brazil to Akron, Ohio. It depends on your attitude and your likability and how professional you are.”
Not content to stick just to the stage, Del Rio recently starred as lead in her first feature film Hurricane Bianca. The Matt Kugelman directed film follows a gay science teacher in Texas who is fired for his sexuality but returns under the guise of drag to get revenge on those who wronged him.
It touches heavily on themes of homophobia and the lack of workplace protections for LGBT citizens in most of America.
“It was a serious topic done in a comedic way, which is often lacking from a movie especially a gay movie. It’s usually something so ridiculous or so campy you can’t get through it or something suicidal that makes you depressed,” said Del Rio. “It’s kind of crazy to think that in 28 states you actually can be fired for being gay which is NUTS!”
You can catch Bianca Del Rio on her “Not Today Satan” tour this Friday at The National. Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 8. Tickets can be purchased online here or at The National’s box office.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
“… One of my favorite pastimes is gathering the cold, huddled masses into a nice warm room, giving them shelter if only for an hour, and sharing valuable life advice from a hate guru!”May 17, 2016
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