Pride 2014: Queen City welcomes ‘Drag Race’ queen

Bianca Del Rio, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 6 winner, set to perform at Charlotte Pride

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Reigning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen Bianca Del Rio is slated to perform at Charlotte Pride this month, just weeks after winning season six on the famed Logo show and jetsetting around the globe to take in victorious applauses. Bianca, the creation of New Orleans native Roy Haylock, is, perhaps, best known for her biting comedy and satire. But, she’s got a big heart of gold, too — working to raise awareness and touched by the many ways she says she’s seen drag and “Drag Race,” in particular, change hearts and minds. qnotes had the opportunity to connect with Bianca, who has lived in New York since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, before her visit to the Queen City. Our interview below has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Matt Comer: Hey, Bianca!
Bianca Del Rio: Hey, how are you?!

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I’m well, and seems you are. You have been a busy, busy person these days.
I have been. I have been a busy bitch. I just got in from three and half weeks of being out. I was doing London, Amsterdam, Ireland, Scotland, Texas, Sacramento, San Jose. I’ve been just about everywhere. I’m back in town for just a day and then I leave tomorrow for Canada.

And, you’re coming to Charlotte for Charlotte Pride, too. Are you excited?
I am looking forward to it. You know, I usually don’t get to spend time in the cities I visit, but I think I have an extra day there, which I’m looking forward to. Usually I just see the airport, the hotel, the venue and then I’m back. The great thing about this past summer is that we have got to do a lot of Prides. WorldPride in Toronto. Buffalo Pride in New York. There’s been several events this summer.

You’ve been doing drag for a while. What first attracted you to it?
I started 18 years ago. In 1996. I came from theatre. I always did wigs, costumes and make up for theatre when I was a kid. I had all the makings of a drag queen. It evolved into acting in the shows and there was a drag role in a show I did. It was well received and local queens from the bars came and saw me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a guest spot and I did, and it evolved into five nights a week for 10 years in New Orleans.

Was comedy always a part of your routine or did that evolve later?
It did kind of evolve into that. I started out doing lipstick numbers and the things people usually do and then it led into me hosting. I have felt comfortable with comedy and it’s always been my strong point.

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Some people think some of your comedy is offensive, though you do offend fairly. I’ve even seen one video of you performing where some guy was so upset that he walked up on stage and stole the microphone from you.
First off, everyone is offended by something nowadays and, sadly, we have to hear about it every five minutes. I think people don’t take the time to realize there are bigger things to worry about in the world than a drag queen at a venue at 1 a.m. on a Monday night. I think what’s interesting is that I’m doing what I’ve done all these years and it’s never been an issue, but because I was on the show, it’s a larger platform. I understand that some people won’t get it. You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea and I’m fully aware of that. It doesn’t really bother me or affect me on that level. It’s either for you or it’s not. I’ve had people tell me that, “I think it’s wrong that you’re saying this or you’re saying that.” That’s fine, but I’m not on the steps of the White House leading a protest. I’m not creating a cult. I’m basically out doing a show in a bar. If you don’t like it, you can leave. But, I’ll be honest — I’ve seen many a queen who have gotten up there on stage and lip-synced to Beyonce who are far worse than what I could ever say! (laughs) You either have a sense of humor or you don’t. It’s not for everyone.
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What’s the relationship between the RuPaul’s girls like behind the scenes and when the cameras aren’t rolling?
You don’t have a relationship. You don’t spend time with one another. You’re not in groups. Anytime we’re together is when we’re on camera. That’s the process of the show. You really don’t get to know people until you’re in the room. Sometimes you click with people quickly and sometimes you butt heads, because you don’t have all the backstory of what is going on in their lives and what got them there. It’s pretty intense when you’re there. We’re all sequestered and we’re all separated. Now, of course, I’ve had amazing opportunities to get to know a lot of them through traveling and working together with them and having a chance to talk to one another after the show.

What was it that prompted you to try out?
I work here in New York and the guy who promotes a lot of “Drag Race” events, a friend of mine, had asked me to host the premiere and finale parties whenever they came to New York. I was backstage and Willam and Sharon Needles were there and they were being beyond douchy and drunk and rude. They made comments questioning why I was there. They thought I was a nobody. I resented that in my mind. I thought this is interesting, this is the way it works. You can do whatever you want to on stage, but backstage we are all kind of the same. We are all men in wigs. My response to them was that the reason I am here is because you people are too fucking stupid to pull off the show. I have to be here to move things along and that was that. It always stuck in the back of my head, why not? What do I have to lose? It was just good timing. I wanted to see what it would be like and why not give it a shot?

What’s your life been like since winning the show this season?
It’s amazing. It’s truly amazing. It’s an unbelievably large platform. Because of many years of me doing drag, I’ve had plenty of ups and downs. I’m fully aware this is a huge up and I’m beyond grateful for it — for being able to travel and meet all these people. And, when I started doing drag there was no Twitter, there was no Instagram or Facebook. None of that. To see all the support from tons of people online is really, really amazing. I’m doing what I’ve always done and I’m so appreciative it’s reached so many people because of this amazing show. You get to hear stories of people like mothers with 13-year-old sons who watch the show and how much they love it. It’s amazing. When I was 13 there wasn’t anything like this on TV. It really is amazing the impact this show has and I’m really grateful for all of it. : :

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.