On stage he’s the queen of mean, but on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio showed a heart of gold, aiding and befriending other contestants while creating flawless runway looks. Del Rio (New Yorker Roy Haylock when out of drag) is performing in Vancouver this Saturday, two days before finding out if he’ll be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar when the reunion special airs. We chatted after the cast had already filmed three different versions of the finale about the anticipation, Del Rio’s future, and whether he ever eats the words that fly out of his character’s sassy-a** mouth.
Hi Bianca! How are you?
Hi! I’m good, I’m sorry I’m calling a little early but I got through with the last interview and I thought, why not, drag queens are never early. It’s always a first with me!
You’re coming to see us in Vancouver next week, have you ever been?
I have never been. I look forward to it. I have not been to Canada and after all the paperwork I had to do to get there, I know why! I was like damn. But no, I’m looking forward to it, I’ve never been.
Some of your co-stars have been, and lots of contestants from previous seasons. Have you at least heard good things?
I have heard great things. Milk was just there I think, and Ben DeLa Creme. They told me they had a great time and that I’m going to enjoy it, so it’s good. Now I’m gonna be the one to ruin all of it.
We hope so, that’s what we’re paying for.
(Laughing) Oh, good.
You’ve filmed three versions of the results for RuPaul’s Drag Race. What does it feel like waiting for that reveal?
It’s been a journey, we filmed the show last summer so it’s quite a journey from the time you’re cast to when you show up on set, to you win a challenge, to you go home, to all of a sudden it’s announced to the world, and the whole world knows, then it’s the premiere, so it’s a roller coaster of emotions.
But it’s a bittersweet moment, because it’s kind of, here it is. It’s coming to an end. The end of the show, but then it’s also the beginning of this amazing journey that’s been coming along. Of course I’ve been working since the show started airing so I’m excited about it. I figure if I’ve waited all this time another two weeks won’t kill me.
Del Rio, left, with contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race on LogoTV
You have been busy, so what difference does it really make to win?
Well of course you want to win, that’s just the competitor in me. But I have spoken to Courtney and Adore and we all feel like winners. I know that’s a very pageant answer, but it’s been overwhelming with the exposure.
We all three are very good friends and I find that to be the most interesting part of it. For people online, or in general they’re very Team Adore or Team Courtney, Team Bianca but in reality you can like all of us because we like each other. I wouldn’t be upset in the least if either of them won because I feel it’s a great journey and they produce some really good s***.
True, but the editing has made you and Adore very loveable while Courtney doesn’t seem to be set up for a win. So first of all, how are you coping with people thinking you’re nice?
Well the editing is the editing. You’re filming a 12-hour day and no one can make you be anything other than what you are. I think if you said it, you said it. They’re going to use you at your worst and at your best. I think it would be hypocritical of me to blame anything on the editing because I’m an adult, I said it and they might not be my choice words now, but in the moment you don’t really have time to think about it. You don’t know what’s going to be edited down into 40 minutes.
So you’re owning up to being a nice person?
Cameras don’t follow me around in my day-to-day life, when I’m going to the bank or schmoozing with my friends. It’s not so much about me showing a softer side. You don’t really have that opportunity when you’re on stage, it’s just (the show) is being more realistic. What I do onstage is what I do. Does Adore sing all the time? No, it’s just a situation where you realize you are exposed but it’s not some drastic strange thing for me.
It’s just interesting that people now see it and understand me a little more. My show is my show and I don’t necessarily show you my identity. But I knew what I signed up for and that it could all potentially be out there.
There’s that video going around the internet of you laying into a guy after he took issue with a comment you made about minorities in your act. Do you ever feel regretful of something you’ve said?
You have to take responsibility for what you say. I do what I do, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There have been people who’ve been upset in the past and I say that’s ok.
But I also say, consider the source. You are coming to a drag show at two in the morning on a Wednesday or Monday night, why don’t you question yourself. If you’re coming for something serous, you should watch Meet the Press. Whereas at a drag show, the biggest joke up there is me.
As far as minorities are concerned in that particular instance, which I found quite humorous, is he was blaming me for being rude to the Latin community and he failed to realize I’m Latin myself. And it’s a man in a bar who’s drunk, I’m a man in a wig in a bar doing a show. It’s not that serious. This is nothing different than what I’ve been doing my entire career. There are people who have been very complimentary on Facebook and Twitter, and there are people who don’t like it. That’s okay, that’s their opinion. But I’ve seen many drag queens, and there’s one thing that we are not, which is racist. We’re our own race in ourselves. If you can’t laugh at it, maybe it’s not for you, but by no means are you a lesser person or not entitled to that opinion.
With that situation I heard him, and I listened, and he hung himself. You’re just not going to win if I have a microphone.
Bianca Del Rio on LogoTV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Screen grab.
Nevertheless, do you feel and pressure to censor yourself if you were to gain the exposure of winning and possibly feel you had to represent the brand a certain way? Because they had a winner in the past, a certain someone, who got off the plane at the gig and said something on the tarmac and was turned right around and sent home.
I think first and foremost the act is the act, and it’s not necessarily your daily existence. And I know exactly what you’re talking about, when someone said something on that level, that’s for shock value. I don’t know her enough to question what she’s done, but it’s definitely a different approach that I have.
I think with the show it is a brand, but I don’t deny anything I’ve said or done. I have had to edit myself and consciously think about it. It’s not so much changing your act, but when you’re there it doesn’t always allow you to perform, so to speak and you have to realize there’s a time and place for everything. When you’re there, the task is to do the challenges, and do them well. It’s not the Bianca Del Rio Show where you’re cursing and doing whatever, that’s just a part of what I do. It’s not my identity. So censoring, not so much, but you don’t have the opportunity to explain to America.
I think the majority of people would say you’re one of the most polished contestants the show has ever had. What, or whom from a previous season perhaps, could make you sweat?
Well, I always say never let a bitch see you sweat. That’s always been my motto with working but I think experience has played a big part in all of it. Not experience like I know everything – I know myself. When you’re there, the judges aren’t trying to question whether you’re genius or not genius. They’re questioning your skill at the challenge. You have to pick your battles, and there’s no reason to fight about things unless it was really something I needed to think about. If they’re saying my hair should be on the left side or my eyes should be softer, I’m not going to fight about that. I can’t go into a competition assuming I have everything set. You listen. A lot of it was humbling and great.
As far as past seasons, and the great thing about working as long as I have, I’ve seen so many different kinds of drag. Someone like Latrice, I love. Her performance skills are amazing. Jinkx is brilliantly talented and a great actor who does a completely different thing than I do, but I can have great appreciation for it.
One of the people who makes me laugh endlessly is Alyssa Edwards, cause she has no idea she’s funny. All of those people are genius and what’s so great about the show was it was able to showcase their talents in a great way and they’ve done really well after the show, which I think is really the test of all of it.
Alyssa is too funny.
Oh my god, she makes me cackle.
Justin Johnson as Alyssa Edwards. Screen grab.
What do you hope the next year will bring, win or lose?
I’ve never been a big dreamer. But this has been an incredible, overwhelming journey and I have some things that I will be doing. I’m doing a one-person show I’m writing hopefully to do in cabaret theatres. And a friend of mine and I are doing a film we’ve started fundraising for prior to the show called Hurricane Bianca, hoping to complete it next summer. For now that’s got me covered. But people are calling, people are interested, asking me to do things I never thought of before. I’m so grateful.
What would you want to tell the Season 7 cast?
I would say this: know thyself. I would say know yourself and take a fuckin’ sewing class. I don’t wanna see another bitch complain that they didn’t know it was coming.
I couldn’t believe that contestants on Season 6 couldn’t sew at all.
I think even if you learn to hot glue beautifully, good for you. But you have to make magic in a very short period of time. That’s the thing about what some people said about what I did, that it was boring and that it was safe. F*** you! You do it in two hours, b****. And you also have to do what you know you can complete. I’ve said before when people are like, oh, she does the same thing, listen. I would rather be polished when I come out than come out with seven half-assed attempts at some sh***y looks.
With everyone now that’s a drag expert and a critic, it’s hysterical. You have no idea the pressure to make things happen in a short amount of time. You need to learn a set of skills. You have to think quickly, you have to plan quickly, reverse in a quick minute and make a dress in two hours. Do it, f**! Show me what you can do. Prove me wrong.
I thought it was funny, apparently for Season 7 the audition process is quite lengthy and a little more complex and people were complaining. I thought, you know, you complain when there’s no-talent people on the show yet you don’t want to make the attempt yourself. If you apply yourself to this, maybe it weeds out the people who can’t do it. You want competition, you want a good group of good people. Well-rounded queens. You don’t have to be the best dancer or the best seamstress, but know something about it.
It’s far more intense this time around. They need to get at it.
Well, good. I’m excited for that. But I’m excited to see you win, because that’s obviously going to happen.
Well, we hope! We don’t know. It’s been an amazing rollercoaster. We know what we already filmed, so we know we’re in top three. But we aren’t privy to any inside information. Ru asks America for their thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. I don’t know how much that influences her decision, but she’s asked to hear it, so we shall see.
Well, best of luck! We’ll find out next week.
We will. Thank you, I appreciate it. See you soon!