On June 1st, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock) will pass on the crown to a new queen as season 7 comes to an end. Bianca’s reign as Drag Race champion may soon be over, but the insult comic shows no sign of slowing down; on June 14th alone she is headlining two of her “Rolodex of Hate” shows at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.
I caught up with Bianca backstage at the San Diego stop of her tour. As we chatted over some white wine, Bianca was thought provoking, sweet and of course honest on topics ranging from Joan Rivers to her thoughts on season 7 of “Drag Race” (she’s Team Ginger!).
Q: How is your “Rolodex of Hate” show different from your other club appearances?
Bianca: Well my club appearances are usually 20 minutes. The way that it works is usually queens do 2 numbers when they’re traveling out of town. For me, since I don’t do numbers, I would do a 15-20 minute set each time I’d go to a city. [My “Rolodex of Hate” show] is different because it’s an hour and a half and people are actually sitting down to hear what you have to say, which is a little different than the bars. Nothing against [the bars], but usually [people are] there to party and have a good time and meet you and take a photo with you, where this is a little more of a theatrical setting.
I’ve done [my show] in very small venues that have been 200-300 seats and I’ve also done Castro Theatre, which has been 1400 seats, so it varies. But I do prefer [the “Rolodex” show] because you’re more in control and your audience knows what they’re coming to. They kind of have an idea of who you are, they’ve investigated it and they’re taking the time to see you so it’s a lot more fun for me.
Q: What can LA fans expect from the show at the House of Blues there?
Bianca: I say expect the unexpected because you never know. With me there’s a certain section of the show that is scripted…the moments I have before and after though are off the cuff, which I enjoy doing. So it varies from city to city.
Q: What is the most annoying question people are always trying to ask you?
Bianca: They always say, “What has your year been like? How has it changed your life?” I mean [obviously] it’s changed my life; nobody wanted to do interviews with me before this shit. I didn’t realize it would be such a broad spectrum, I thought the show was pretty famous and well known in the United States but I’ve been able to travel the world. It’s kind of surreal to know that many people know you. The show is huge, I say television is a powerful thing and it’s definitely changed my life in a great way.
Q: Speaking of “Drag Race,” on the “Snatch Game” episode this season, you told the queens, “I’ve got one tip for you: you’re a drag queen, be funny!” Why do you think comedy is so important to drag?
Bianca: I think comedy’s important especially when you’re on that show…if you can’t sing, dance, act, sew or do comedy on some level, you’re fucked because [those are] the challenges. So it’s kind of like going to the Olympics and saying, “Oh, I gotta swim?” No, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best dancer but you have to at least have some ability in [them].
I think at this point, let’s be honest, the show has now had 7 seasons, if you’re not prepared for it then you shouldn’t be there because there are tons of people that audition for the show and want that spot. Now granted, one person is going to win. It doesn’t mean the other people are not talented. Even as far as getting on the show and doing well on the show, what are you going to do after? I’ve said it’s a golden ticket and there’s several people that have done geniusly with it and they didn’t even have to win.
Latrice Royale, Alyssa Edwards, Adore Delano, Courtney Act, are brilliant performers who are working all over but they have talent, they have something to offer. They might not have won and it doesn’t mean that they’re bad because they didn’t win. They’re my friends and they’re brilliantly talented…and they’ve busted their asses. Shangela for Christ’s sake, I mean she’s still around and still working extensively. You have to realize that the work begins on the show but it becomes even harder once you’re off the show.
Q: So what are your thoughts on the queens of season 7?
Bianca: I haven’t watched much of it because I was traveling a lot but I did a binge watch of several episodes. We just filmed the finale and of course they film everybody winning so it’s not like you know who won. But I have to say there’s something about Ginger [Minj] that I really liked a lot. I’m Southern so I understand her aesthetic and her approach and I’m also older so I get that. She’s a sweet queen, not to say the other two aren’t, I met them and they were very nice. But there was something about Ging that I clicked with.
Q: What would your advice be for future queens who want to audition for “RuPaul’s Drag Race?”
Bianca: Don’t do it! No, I think that the only thing you can do is know yourself. You can’t control the challenges, you can’t control the judges, you can’t control the situation, so know yourself. Which means be aware of yourself, edit yourself so you can’t blame the editing later and realize it happens very quickly. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do in that moment…and if you do well, it’s a golden ticket. Be a human being, which I think [contestants] forget. They’re too busy trying to be fierce and turn a look. Be a human being because anybody who has been successful from that show has been a human being: Latrice Royale, Joslyn Fox, Courtney Act, Adore Delano, Raven who I love, Jujubee, Shanegla, brilliant people.
Q: What are your thoughts on the first ever RuPaul’s DragCon [which took place in Los Angeles May 16-17]?
Bianca: It was fun! The weird thing for me was I was in Vienna the night before and then I flew that morning…so I didn’t get as much time as I wanted to. It was great [though], I thought the turn out was amazing. [It was really touching seeing all] the kids. That’s the thing I’ve realized, I get letters and e-mails constantly from children and mothers and families discussing the show but to see them in person was quite lovely. Seeing little boys going “I love you,” it’s amazing; I wish I had had that when I was a kid. I thought, ‘that’s the thing that you do it for,’ because frankly, in the end, we work in clubs or bars where everyone can’t always show up.
Q: Did you think RuPaul should have come in drag?
Bianca: People often say “Ru should do this, Ru should do that.” I have to be very honest and say that Ru has done this for a very long time. [It’s been] many years of Ru doing every talk show there was and every appearance, and I kind of understand it now. It’s more or less like smoke and mirrors and what Ru does is what Ru does. In a world we live in now with social media and iPhones and cameras, you can’t control the environment. If I were over 40, I would sit back and say “I don’t know if I want that from that angle.” People don’t realize that if you go back and you Google him or you look at all his stuff on YouTube, he’s done it. And now he’s got a say in it, I don’t blame him.
Q: I’m a huge Joan Rivers fan, how did it feel making her laugh?
Bianca: Oh my God, it was the craziest thing in the world. I was that little fag inside, six years old going “Oh my God, she’s laughing at me!” And I don’t get excited at anything. She was truly a kind, amazingly brilliant, funny woman. I’m in debt to her, and to have that moment was surreal.
Q: Would you say she was one of your influences?
Bianca: Completely. She was, Don Rickles, Wanda Sykes, people that just have this natural ability to be funny [and] could make anything funny. It doesn’t even matter what they say, it’s how they say it. It’s also making fun of yourself and also making fun of the obvious. I think now we live in a world where everybody is so politically correct and everyone is so offended by everything, you have to sit back and go “it’s not that serious.” Calm the fuck down, you have to laugh at some point in your life.
Q: Would you ever consider something like taking over “Fashion Police” if you were offered the role?
Bianca: Oh, completely. And this has been a question that has been surfacing a lot. No one’s asked me to do anything and I have to be very fair, you have to realize this is a business and here is a multi-million dollar company, I doubt they would take a chance on someone they don’t know. I’m flattered but no one’s ever asked me, no one’s sent me a contract. I don’t know if they’re ready for that but you never know.
Q: A lot of fans are excited about “Hurricane Bianca,” [“a feature-length comedy about a New York teacher who moves to a small town in Texas, gets fired for being gay, and returns disguised as a mean ‘lady’ to get revenge on the people who were nasty to him,” starring Bianca Del Rio]. When do you start filming?
Bianca: We’re filming for 3 weeks in July, I’m quite excited. It’s been a project that we’ve been working on for quite some time, before “Drag Race.” We finally were able to work it into my schedule to film it this summer so I’m quite excited. I just got the final script so I’m trying to learn that now which is a lot for me. That’s what planes are for, while drinking a Bloody Mary [I] can look over the script, but it’s kind of scary because I’m like in every scene.
But the great thing about it is that Joslyn Fox is a part of the cast and Willam. And Willam plays my friend and someone said “I thought you didn’t like her?” I said, “Well it’s called acting.” No it’s great, I do love Willam. And my friend Matt Kugelman, who’s the genius who wrote it, keeps everybody updated on HurricaneBianca.com.
Q: If you could pick other comedy queens to do a comedy tour with, who would you want?
Bianca: Actually, I’m working on one now with 3 of my favorite people: Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine and Jackie Beat. We’re working on doing something this Fall all over the country. I adore them and love them and respect them highly. They’re brilliantly talented performers and what I love most about them is that they’ve had this long career before “Drag Race,” they didn’t get that golden ticket but they’re still working and they’re still funny.
Q: When can we expect more “Really Queen?” videos on YouTube?
Bianca: We were going to try and film some while I was [in California this] week but it didn’t work out. I am going to do more at some point, I just don’t know when. Maybe once I move here things will get easier.
Q: So you’re moving to California?
Bianca: I’m going to come move here for a minute. I think I’m going to take a year. I was in New York, my apartment lease was up and it’s kind of one of these moments where I’ve been traveling so much that I’m looking to change something and I’m turning 40 so I’m like let’s do something new.
Q: So clearly you have a lot going on, but is there anything else you have in the works you want to talk about?
Bianca: Aside from doing [the “Rolodex of Hate Tour”] and filming the movie and travelling and writing a new show, NO! I always say it’s my favorite thing when people say on opening night, “I love your show, what’s next?” and you go, “Can I get through this?” I’m opening up all options, you never know. I’m also going to be doing Broadway Bares in New York City, which is a huge AIDS fundraising event that’s going to happen at the end of June which I’m excited about. I try to say yes to everything, a lot of doors have opened because of this and you never really know what’s around the corner.
Bianca Del Rio’s “Rolodex of Hate Tour” stops at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard with 2 shows on Sunday, June 14th.