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Bianca Del Rio: ‘Don’t do drag. It’s like being a porn star’

Ella Braidwood July 20, 2018

Since winning Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race five years ago, Bianca Del Rio has continued her upward trend of success – releasing two films, a  book, and touring three of her own stand-up comedy shows.

PinkNews caught up with the 43-year old drag star – speaking on the phone from Scotland – about her current comedy set, racism in the gay scene, US President Donald Trump and the changing Drag Race audience (“Young white girls… they watch three episodes, and they think they know everything about drag”).

What can fans expect from your latest stand-up comedy show Blame It On Bianca Del Rio?

Expect the unexpected because you never know what’s going to happen with me because I drink during the show. So, it could totally go off track many, many times. Actually there’s a huge scripted part of the show, and then the other portion of the show is kind of freewheeling with the audience.

What advice would you give to young, upcoming queens?

Don’t do drag. It’s a trap. I thought I’d do it for a year, and now it’s 23 years later. It’s like being a porn star. You’re kind of like: “Well the money’s good, and the exposure’s great.”

I would say just find something that works well for you. I think so easily nowadays everyone sees someone doing something and they think: “Oh, I should do that in particular.” But that’s not always the case. You can be inspired by someone but wouldn’t necessarily steal someone’s act or steal someone’s look, which I think can really mess things up for you… You’ve got to make yourself memorable bitch. You’ve got to do something.

How has the Drag Race audience changed over time? 

What’s interesting is, as the show has gotten bigger, we’ve gotten more of a straight audience and the majority of it are girls. And a lot of it deals with a lot of young white girls, especially in America. So I’m not necessarily sure, they watch three episodes, and they think they know everything about drag.

I have a problem with any children to begin with, I have a problem with the youth that just think that this is the only formula. There isn’t. There’s tons of successful queens that have existed before Drag Race, and there’s tons of talented queens that may not do well on Drag Race – but it doesn’t mean they’re not talented.

So, I think, people forget that it’s a television show, along with being a competition, but mainly it’s a television show. Sometimes things should not be taken completely seriously, and some things are not to be taken lightly, but it’s just all there and you have to make what you want of it. But I do think that the audience has changed completely. The audience for drag queens in general, I think, has changed.

Bianca Del Rio says the ‘Drag Race’ audience has changed over time. (Denise Malone)

What do you mean by that? 

Well, in my day, to see a drag queen you had to go to a gay bar. And you had to be gay to get in the bar to go see them. You didn’t see them on national television. So, I think the exposure is great, because we have much more exposure now and we get to travel the world, but I also think that the pay-off is a lot of negative as well, is dealing ridiculously, stupid, uneducated people online. That exists too. It’s a double-edged sword, you know. The exposure is lovely, but in the end there’s problems that come along with it. So you just have to find some even balance for it. I was lucky enough to experience both sides of it. So I knew what it was like when no-one was interested in me, and now I know when people are.

Is it problematic that Drag Race now has a big audience made up of white, straight girls and women? 

I have no problem with it, I have no problem with it. But also my personality is a little different, where, you know, I’m not afraid to say what I think. I don’t have issues with it on that level. But, I think, as I said, having an audience is wonderful, but you also have to treat it as though, you know, this could work in your favour or this can go against you. But I mean an audience is an audience. If you get my sense of humour, great, we can have a great time. But I’m not doing it to please them, by no means.

Do you think racism is a problem in the drag scene?

I think that’s not for me to answer. I haven’t experienced situations like that, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And each person has a different experience. I mean I make jokes at everyone’s expense and some people will say “I think that’s racist,” or, “You can’t say that, you can’t do this,” ’cause we live in a world now where everybody’s discussing the PC police, you know – this is right, this is wrong.

But as far as personal racism, for me in particular, I haven’t experienced it, so I haven’t gotten that type of hate mail. But if I did, I wouldn’t entertain it because 99 percent of the stuff people write or type, they would never say to your face. So, why should I be concerned with someone that I’m never going to meet, and someone I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire? So, I don’t bother.

The queen is currently touring her latest comedy show across Europe. (Denise Malone)

RuPaul recently caused controversy, when he said he would “probably not” let a trans contestant on the show after they had completed their transition. He later apologised. What are your views in terms of the transgender community and drag?

Well, that’s a trap to even go into that question. I think, look, it’s his show, he can say and do what he wants, I’m not his spokesperson. I mean some of my friends are trans, which is usually what someone says, so I definitely don’t have a problem with it. But it’s not my show, so I don’t know why he said it, I don’t know where his thoughts are, I don’t know. And I can’t answer for him.

There have been trans performers that have been on the show. That were either transitioning during, or after, so I don’t know. I think that it’s a very difficult question. I don’t cast the show, so I don’t know. Of course, I think everyone should be invited and involved. To me, I think there are no rules to drag.

What do you think of the political climate in America right now?

Well, I try not to think about it because it keeps me from crying. It’s a mess. I mean, it is what it is. And we can only hope that it will get better. I’m trying to think as positively as I can, but it is painful to watch the news, or to read the news, or to just even see what’s happening. It’s saddening and embarrassing on a global scale.

What did you think of Donald Trump’s visit to the UK?

I did see some of the photos. Well, he’s an idiot… a f***ing idiot. It is what is. And it’s embarrassing just to see. Repulsive, arrogant, piece of s**t – that’s what he is.

What will you get up to once you finish this tour? 

There’s a couple of other secret projects in the works… 2019 is already booking up.

Any hints you could give us? 

I think it’s called secret for a reason. How can I give hint? I don’t want to upset any lawyers. I’ve got to keep my job.

What about a third film?

Oh, totally. That’s already in the works. They’re already trying to sort that out. I’m quite excited about that. We haven’t set dates yet to film, but they are definitely working on a part three.

Bianca Del Rio is currently on tour for her latest comedy show – Blame It On Bianca Del Rio – playing dates across Europe, including Edinburgh, London, and Brighton. 

More: Aquaria, bianca del rio, Drag Race, rupaul, US

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