Don't ask Bianca Del Rio what her process is — just don't
Life's a drag
The Queen of Mean. Joan Rivers of the Drag World. Clown in a gown. There isn't one definitive way to describe drag queen Bianca Del Rio, but if we could point to a single adjective, it's this: Real. As in, realness (said with a snap of the fingers, of course). A honest-to-goodness, not-everyone's-cup-of-tea sort of comic. Speaking to us after a photoshoot in Los Angeles, where she's based, the season six winner of RuPaul's Drag Race was a chirpy energizer bunny who sounded slightly different from her snappy, on camera self — though she's just as sharp.
Underneath the spanx, makeup, wig and some serious attitude, Roy Haylock (his real name) is a 41-year-old comic from New Orleans who just happens to be a drag queen. No biggie. Except that she's the reality series' first Hispanic winner, who went on to star in her own standup special, Rolodex of Hate, followed by a touring show of Not Today Satan. Her first film, Hurricane Bianca, also stars Rachel Dratch and Alan Cumming, in where she deals with the touchy subject of employment discrimination in America. Getting a start in the New York bar scene after a hurricane in New Orleans prompted a move to the Big Apple, where her first drag show was a last-minute appearance in a gay wedding. Initially hesitant, Del Rio took the chance after being told she would be paid $500. The rest was history, which you can relive as much as you want in the comfort of your own home —RuPaul's Drag Race and Hurricane Bianca are currently streaming on Netflix.
Garnering equal parts intrigue, fascination and sometimes disdain from the public, we ask Del Rio about the sort of questions she gets asked on a daily basis, and whether there's such a thing as a stupid question to ask a drag queen.
Hey Bianca! What are you up to at the moment?
It's been an eventful weekend with endless photoshoots for the past few days — I'm sick of drag at the moment! I'm now Roy Haylock from the neck down, and Bianca from the face up.
Which brings me to the next question. What's a day in Bianca Del Rio's life like?
First of all I wake up, if I'm lucky. I wake up and wonder which city I'm in because it's always a different city and usually involves airports and baggage. Not much sleep, sadly, because you know I'm very lucky to get to work as much as I do.
What's the most common question you get asked?
"What is RuPaul like?"
What do you always answer?
I say, "She's not real, she is a hologram." (laughs).
The most stupid question you get asked a lot?
Oh my god. Let me think... I think it's usually when they say, "Walk me through the process of you being in drag..." That's the most stupid sh*t in the world. It's dumb! I get in drag! I put on my make-up, a wig and I show up! That's what it is, it's not exciting!
How about a question that you love getting asked the most?
A good question because I have a good answer is when they ask me what's been the most amazing thing that's happened since Drag Race. The answer is always: "I was lucky enough to do an episode of In Bed With Joan (Rivers)." I was a huge fan of Joan Rivers for many years. To get an interview with her on camera was truly an amazing moment for me.
The most controversial question you've been asked?
Anything that has to do with politics. Nobody wants to hear a drag queen talk about politics.
I'm in America right now and as you know, our situation is not so fabulous here because we have a sh*thead as president. So I get asked about that a lot. But I think there's a time and place. For me, people want me to make them laugh, as opposed to bitching about this piece of shIt. I'm not saying it's not important, I'm saying there is a time and place for it. I try to avoid it in my shows because it's not necessary, you know?
How comfortable are you when it comes to questions about love and sex life?
I'm a pretty open book. I'm cool with whatever they ask me. It's usually somebody creepy who asks, there's nothing off limits. I don't go, "I'm not talking about that".
What have you heard about Singapore so far? Has anyone mentioned about whether audiences here are conservative or open to drag queens and such?
Yeah, this is the thing. I try not to look into any of that before I go into a place. I usually don't try to judge the situation. Obviously, if the tickets are selling — there's a group of people who know who I am — that's amazing. Shockingly, Drag Race brings a lot of people together. Even if people hate me, they'll show up and we see how it goes. I try not to judge the audience before I get there.
You have a rolodex of hate, as you shared in an early episode of RuPaul's Drag Race when viewers first meet you. Tell us... are you a nice person in real life?
In real life, yes. But it doesn't mean I don't have horrible thoughts, you know. I usually say, "I'm not for everyone and I'm not everybody's cup of tea." It just depends on the person. Usually, the smart people get it (laughs).
Blame It On Bianca - Live in Singapore is happening on 26 November at Shine Auditorium. Book tickets.
- Image: Denise Malone, Jovanni Jimenez Pedraza
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