“I’m a joke. I’m a man in a dress!” – Bianca Del Rio tells it how it is

© Magnus Hastings

Really queen?

Bianca Del Rio is coming to your house tomorrow. No, you don’t have to turn the lights off and hide behind the sofa. Her incredible Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special: Live from Austin will be appearing on demand on Vimeo from December 2.

We caught up with the queen of quips to talk teaching hate, hurricane Bianca blowing in, and how people around the world are telling their bosses “not today Satan!”.

It must feel like you’ve been doing the Rolodex of Hate show forever? Well, we figured that by the end it would have been 93 performances. There were 20 of those that were done in Province Town this summer which I did back to back, but it’s kind of been everywhere. We’ve done it in Vienna, we’ve done it all over Australia, I’ve done all over the United States. I’ve done it here [London], I’ve done it in Manchester prior to this, so it’s just been a wild ride. At the beginning I didn’t think it was going to end up being this big, I assumed it was just going to be a little show that I might get a couple of dates with, and then it’s just grown into this monster which has been amazing.

Doing it on the level you are now must be amazing? Oh it’s insane. You pinch yourself and you go “it’s unreal.” To go to Australia and do a theatre that’s 1400 seats, and to sell out twice, it’s like I can’t even wrap my brain around it, and the good thing is that I don’t. I don’t allow myself to think about it, because if I do it’ll fuck with my head, you just have to keep rolling with it. Since I won, since the show (Drag Race) aired, I’ve been travelling, so it’s been kind of non-stop for me. I have no complaints whatsoever, but I can’t stop and think about it because if I do, then I get too wrapped up in my head.

Are you looking forward to working on something else? Yes and no, I mean you do get comfortable with it, and I am excited because there are some other projects I’ll be working on. There’s this show in particular called National Treasures, I’ll be doing a show with the fabulous Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat, and Sherry Vine which is gonna be great to get to do. I’ve been wanting to do a show with these three that I love and respect, because a lot of people don’t know them because they only relate drag to Drag Race, so I wanted to do something with three of my friends that I think are absolutely fucking hysterical, and just to see what’s to come of it. I’m excited because I can enjoy it with three very talented people, and the pressure’s not all on me [laughs].

I’m a 40 year old man, I can say whatever the fuck I want. If you don’t like it, beat it queen!

We don’t think we’ve ever read something about you that doesn’t call you controversial. Do you think it’s stuck? [Laughs] I do find that fascinating. In January it’ll be 20 years that I’ve been doing drag and it’s the same thing I’ve been doing all these years, but now we live in a world where everyone’s so afraid to say something. You can’t say the wrong word, you can’t say “tranny”, you can’t say “fag”, and it’s so silly to me because for me the biggest joke is myself. I am a joke, I am a man in a dress! If you don’t get it, you don’t get it, and I try not to lose sleep over it. People do go out of their way to try to make it “oh she shouldn’t be saying this”, look, I’m a 40 year old man, I can say whatever the fuck I want. If you don’t like it, beat it queen!

But people come to your shows now because they want to be chopped down by you don’t they? I started out doing this and people would run from me, and then now you’re on TV, people run up to me all the time and go “read me, humiliate me, say something bad about me.” I’m going “it doesn’t work that way asshole”, but it’s pretty funny.

So what’s happening with Hurricane Bianca? A friend of mine Matt Kugelman, who’s a genius, had written this movie about maybe five or six years ago and he wanted to make this happen. So he started a crowd funding, – this was all before I did Drag Race – and we had raised like $60,000 to start the filming, and then I got Drag Race so I left, and I couldn’t talk about where I was, or what had happened, or what was going on. I think everybody thought I had taken $60,000 and ran and gone to Mexico, bought some young boy and some tits.

People wouldn’t put that past you… No, they would think “what a bitch, she took my money.” But once Drag Race started airing we continued the crowd funding, and thanks to the generosity of many many people  – Including a lot of my good friends – we were finally able to make it happen. We filmed it in Dallas, Texas, and right now it’s being edited. I’m hoping that it’ll be out by next spring. We have a brilliant cast, along with Shangela, Willam, and Alyssa Edwards from Drag Race who are also in it. We also have Alan Cumming, we have Margaret Cho, and we also have RuPaul who’s in the movie as well. And this brilliant actress in America, I don’t know if you know her over here but her name is Rachel Dratch, she’s on Saturday Night Live in the US, and she’s the funniest bitch you’re ever gonna meet. There’s a lot of fun people in it, and I had a great time filming it, so I’m excited for the world to see it.

How much of the film is based on true events? None of it has to do with me. It’s called Hurricane Bianca, but basically it’s about this guy named Richard who’s a school teacher, who is played by me.

And he gets sacked for being gay? Yes, in 29 States it’s still legal to be fired for being gay which is insane. People are worried about me being controversial? Go worry about that! That’s a serious fucking topic. So basically he gets fired, and then he’s in this teacher relocation programme and he eagerly wants to teach cos he’s a nerd – which is where the “acting” comes in cos it’s nothing like me. So I get stationed in a very small town in Texas – that’s rednecks as we call them, very closed minded people, very homophobic –, and I get outed for being gay. Because it’s such a small town and everybody’s connected, I decide to seek revenge on everyone, so I return as the new teacher who is Bianca Del Rio, who’s basically me [laughs], a total cunt.

I come back and through teaching I change these kids’ lives, but I also have an opportunity to get my revenge on these assholes.

Imagine having you as a teacher…well you are teaching in a way… Teaching hate [laughs]. The great thing about the movie is that it deals with a very serious topic, but in a very funny way. It’s not too preachy, and it’s not too “GAY RIGHTS!” But it is a serious subject which I think most people don’t know about which is kind of insane.

How has the scene changed in the 20 years you’ve been doing drag?  Well it’s been surreal. First of all drag has become far more accepted I think overall. I come from a world where I knew performers Jackie Beat, Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman. All of these queens that I knew of that performed, and even some older queens like Jim Bailey, and Charles Pierce who were brilliant performers and travelling the world and doing shows, but it was also very small minded.

You would have to know who they were to go see them, and I’m not going to praise Drag Race completely on everything, but I think it has changed the game. It’s made some really talented people famous, and it’s made some really untalented people famous, but what’s been great about it, is it’s exposed the world to Drag. I get tons of emails and tons of messages on Facebook from people that are saying “my mum and I sit back and watch Drag Race and we have a good time”, or I sit back and hear from the straight girls like “me and my boyfriend love the show!” With straight girls, I think they see an empowering woman even if it is a man in a dress, that’s what they relate to.

Is that what you find when you meet these people? Totally! The majority of the time what I wanna hear is that you’re their “spirit animal”, you’re saying everything that they want to say, which I think is a huge compliment. So you find these people at work cursing people out and they go “thanks Bianca.” I’ve had on twitter, friends of mine saying “I told my boss today ‘not today Satan’” [laughs], and I’m like, “did you get fired?” and they’re like “no, she loves me!”

Will you be watching series 8 of Drag Race? Oh of course, I’m very excited with season 8. I know a certain amount only because it’s a very tight knit group, but I think I’m going to make more time to watch it this season cos I didn’t get to much last season because I was in different countries, different time zones, and it’s very hard to find it.

Do you see a big difference between UK and US queens? Not necessarily, I think if you’re talented you’re talented. And there’s so many levels of drag, there’s no one right way to do it, so I find it fascinating. There are brilliant lip sync artists, there’s brilliant dancers, there’s brilliant comedians, there’s brilliant singers, and there’s nothing wrong with doing any of that, just do what you do to the best of your ability. And the great thing is, when I’ve gone to every city, every country, and met these people, of course the most talented people are the most kind, most humble, and most easy to get along with.

Meth from London is amazing, and I met Myra Dubois who I love. She fucking makes me piss myself [laughs]. Myra’s amazing to talk to, and I’ve gotten to meet them through this, through travelling.

Bianca Del Rio’s Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special: Live from Austin is available on demand from Vimeo from December 2 at vimeo.com/ondemand/rolodexofhate

Follow Bianca on Twitter at @TheBiancaDelRio

And keep up with all the updates from Hurricane Bianca at facebook.com/HurricaneBianca

Words Danielle Hutley

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