Sit within skewering distance of dependably damning drag queen Bianca Del Rio, and the most cutting act of all is to be passed over as a target for her blood-drawing barbs.
Dykes, Jews, and Blacks (hey, those are her words, not ours) are all potential sources of ribald ridicule, in keeping with the masterful give-and-take improv that’s the bread and butter binding of Bianca’s crowd-pleasing, occasionally cringe-inducing, performance aesthetic.
And now, LA audience members fortunate enough to have Bianca tear them a new one will see that insult preserved in pop culture amber.
“For our Los Angeles show,” Bianca told the Blade, of her Nov. 22 gig, “we’re exited to announce I’ll be filming that as a special.”
And should her tart takedowns leave lasting damage, don’t hold your breath for a mea culpa.
“No. I would never apologize,” Bianca promises. “The craziness is, once you apologize, you backpedal into this road of insanity—and then someone’s going to have a problem with your apology. Look, you do what you do, and some people will enjoy it, and some people won’t—and I think that’s just how you have to look at it.”
Pointing to the long line of celebrities whose loose lips have locked them into a crisis, Bianca observes, “Some PA or publicist has to go out and fix it, and it just comes off as completely, you know, not sincere at all. So why even do it? You said it, you own it, you move on. And we’re talking about jokes here, for Christ’s sake. I’m a man in a wig. I’m a fu**ing joke. So I do what I do, and the people who hate me will hate me… but I have to talk s**t about somebody.”
But an insult from Bianca is the highest form of compliment—and the peripatetic Season 6 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has spent this year serving salacious slander world-wide, as part of her 2019 “It’s Jester Joke” comedy tour, which began on Feb. 20 in Brisbane, and has since seen “The Joan Rivers of the drag world” (says The New York Times) slay and slaughter audiences all over said world, with stops in New Zealand, Asia, South Africa, Northern Europe, the UK and Ireland, Canada, and the US—including a sold-out Oct. 6 show at Carnegie Hall, in Bianca’s old stomping ground of NYC.
“It’s fu**ing surreal, let’s be real,” Bianca says, of planting feet and foul mouth on the stage of that ultra-classy venue. “Especially since I lived in New York for 15 years, working at bars where there would be two people on a Monday night. It is kind of overwhelming, when you’re there, finally doing something that my little gay heart never thought would happen… And not to mention, doing something fun there, and having all those people come out to support you, and not thinking that anyone that has seen you before would say, ‘Well, let’s go see her here.’ They used to see me for free! It was an extremely amazing, and really humbling, opportunity.”
Opportunity presented itself to other queens, in the form of being booked as Bianca’s opening act on the “It’s Jester Joke” tour. Mrs. Kasha Davis can count herself among the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants who’ve opened for Bianca, but there’s also been room made for those who haven’t had the chance to compete on that beloved elimination show.
“I’ve chosen two of my older friends that I’ve loved so much, that didn’t have the ‘Drag Race’ experience,” says Bianca,” of Sherry Vine and Wendy Ho. “They do a lot of parodies, musical stuff. Their material is definitely blue humor, which works well for me, so it’s almost like we’re on the same page.”
Asked for thoughts on the currently airing premiere season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK,” Bianca says she thinks it’s “amazing. I mean, I was excited because, first of all, definitely, “Drag Race” changed my life. But what’s been so amazing is, four of the girls that are on this season, I knew before, so it’s great to see them shine.” (The queens she speaks of are Vinegar Strokes, Divina De Campo, Baga Chipz, and The Vivienne).
“What’s interesting about UK drag,” says Bianca, “is that it’s what we used to do back in the day. You had to have an act of some sort, whether you were a singer, whether you were a dancer, whether you were a comedian.”
Whereas in America, Bianca notes, “It’s a little more about lip-synching. So I understand, relate to, and appreciate what they do [in the UK].”
Back in the day, when Bianca was cutting her teeth, “Everybody had this particular niche that they were in. Lip-synching wasn’t necessarily the big thing when I grew up, especially when you consider the people I grew up with, like a [Lady] Bunny, or a Sherry Vine, or, you know, Jackie Beat. It was a constructed act that you had. So it is nice to see that showcased on the [UK] show.”
As for what’s next (Los Angeles is the last US date for the “Joker” tour, which wraps up Nov. 30 in Calgary), Bianca’s been booked in the form of her male self (Persona? Alter ego?), Roy Haylock, who’s soon off to London’s West End, to follow-up on this summer’s eight-week run as part of the “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” cast. Haylock appears out of drag as Hugo, owner of Victor’s Secret (a shop specializing in drag queen attire), and in drag, as Loco Chanelle.
“I started out in theater,” Bianca recalls, “so it was a huge compliment for them to even consider me to play a role… Aside from being on the West End, you’re getting to play someone else. I’m not the lead, I don’t have to leave dressing rooms, I can stay in one place for a period of time, and it’s just great to be on stage with a magical cast. I don’t’ get that experience that often because, usually, the weight of the show, or the entire production, revolves around me, which is truly a blessing.”
Also a blessing, says Bianca, is the routine of having eight shows a week, and “a schedule that begins at one time, and ends at another time—whereas on the road, things can be a little sporadic, whether it’s the traffic, whether it’s the lights, whether it’s the venue. All of that madness can totally throw each night… But with the West End, it’s all kind of laid out and mapped, which is amazing. So it’s also nice to kind of play around in someone else’s shoes for a while.”
But no pair of shoes, however fabulous, lasts forever. After Roy’s time in the West End spotlight, “We’re hoping to shoot a third installment in the ‘Hurricane Bianca’ series,” says the series’ namesake, “which we’re trying to work out dates right now, and I’ll be planning and plotting another tour.” She’ll also be in Tel Aviv for 2020 Pride—and everywhere else she’s welcome.
“As long as they’re ready for me to show up, as long as there’s an audience,” Bianca promises, “I’ll be anywhere.”
Bianca Del Rio’s “It’s Jester Joke Tour” comes to The Theatre at Ace Hotel on Fri., Nov. 22.
Doors open 7 PM, show at 8 PM. For info and tickets, visit https://www.axs.com/events/369705/bianca-del-rio-tickets?skin=acehotel. For artist info, visit http://thebiancadelrio.com/. Socials: @thebiancadelrio.