From stage star in London’s West End to selling out massive comedy shows all over the world, it almost feels a lifetime ago that Bianca Del Rio would hold court at the bars all over New York City (with the same trademark wit intact). Now, as she heads back to the stage for another run at Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, it seems that 2020 is poised to be another year that Bianca Del Rio surpasses some of the goals she may have set for herself. As she finishes up her It’s Jester Joke World Tour, I caught up with Del Rio to talk about working with and managing to find time to connect with old friends, what makes a roast absolutely perfect, and what, if anything, is making Bianca Del Rio laugh in today’s sometimes maddening world.
Michael Cook: From Everyone’s Talking About Jamie to headlining at Wembley Arena, you have been an overseas sensation; America is starting to miss you though!
Bianca Del Rio: Well let’s be realistic, the same people here also love David Hasselhoff. The bar is pretty low! (laughs)
MC: You have had some big names opening for you like Wendy Ho & Sherry Vine. What does it take to be someone who opens for Bianca Del Rio?
BDR: Well, Sherry and Wendy have been friends of mine for years. They are actually two of the first people that I met when I moved to New York City. I had always admired them and enjoyed their talent. For me, what has been really great is that the opportunities that I have been given have been kind of surreal. There is nothing better than to pay back the people that you think are talented and that you think are your friends. I figured, why not share the stage with people that you like and people that I respect and that I think are fucking funny! It also works well with me in particular, because they do song parodies and their comedy is definitely on my level of nastiness (laughs). It works out well and I was lucky that both of them were available to do it.
It really stems back from being friends of mine for many years; I always say, “if I have five dollars, they have five dollars”. They’re easy to work with, we know each other. There’s no drama, there’s no madness, and when we are doing this night after night, it is just one of those things where you need people that you can rely on. People that are not flaky, people that are not egotistical and insane, it’s great. I think it comes from the fact that Sherry and Wendy are both actors, they’re not just queens. There are no vanity issues or pulling diva tricks. They are hard workers and come from the theater, just like I do. They know that the show must go on and we make it happen. I am grateful to have them.
MC: We are seeing more and more roasts nowadays in nightlife and on television. I think it’s safe to say that you would be one of the most perfect people to do a roast that is working in comedy today, either as a subject of a roast of someone doing the roasting. What do you think makes the perfect roast joke?
BDR: I love a roast! I think that it just comes from truth, first of all. If you are willing to be roasted, you have to be aware of yourself. I think that unfortunately, a lot of drag queens don’t have that. A lot of drag queens don’t have self awareness, which causes a big problem. If you have any sense of humor at all, you have to have a sense of humor about yourself. Everything that everyone points out, I love it. My favorite thing is when someone says something nasty and hateful about me, I am always repeating it, reposting it, and tagging them! There is nothing that I enjoy more than when there is truth in comedy.
MC: So it’s safe to say that all great comedy does come from some element of truth then?
BDR: I think that is basically what comedy is, it’s just truth telling on a level of making it fun and not taking yourself too seriously. I think it’s important to laugh at it and know that people are not out to get you, especially when it’s from people who you respect. Funny is funny; if it’s from someone you respect, it’s even better. It’s like “okay, this bitch got me”! The problem that I also have is that when you have people these days, I won’t even call them millennials, I’ll just call them assholes who feel the need to say “you can’t say that about so and so, because that’s offensive”. First of all, If I’m talking to that bitch, it has nothing to do with you. She doesn’t have a problem with it, so who are you to say what I can and can’t say? That is what I find fascinating; if it’s not your cup of tea, go live your life. I was doing what I was doing, you go do what you were doing. I’m not here to please you, and I think that is what is being mistaken in all this.
— JamieMusical (@JamieMusical) November 9, 2019
MC: You have made it clear in the past how you also feel about Drag Race girls who may complain about taking pics with fans after a show and you are known for spending time with each fan during a meet and greet. Where does that professionalism come from?
BDR: It’s all part of the business. If people are there, that picture is usually all that they want and it’s not the worse thing in the world. If I have a flight or if I am running late, then the management will arrange for me to get where I need to be without it becoming a big controversy. Any time that I can take that picture, of course I will. It’s just a photo, it’s what everyone wants, it’s not the end of the world.
MC: Is there anything in our crazy and sometimes troublesome world that is really making Bianca Del Rio laugh?
BDR: I think what is making me laugh is the insanity of people saying that you can and can’t say something. The censoring of what is not right. Here we are in a world where people are discussing morality and what’s acceptable, and we have this douchebag of a President; it’s beyond hypocritical. The fact that people think he is a Christian, or people think he is actually doing something for them. The people in Middle America who vote for him and praise him and say he is a wonderful person because he did tax cuts; not for them! (laughs). He has no idea what their lives are, and to me that is laughable. Poliitcs is just one big fucking joke, I must say. If you think any polician is not in it for themselves, you really are a delusional individual. I’m paying my taxes for him to go golfing, that’s insane!
MC: You wrote an advice book Blame It On Bianca Del Rio, which many people loved, as you delivered sage and pointed advice on many topics with your trademark candor and wit. Who does Bianca Del Rio get advice for herself from?
BDR: Oh, the internet (laughs)! They really give the best advice. I am actually fortunate enough to have a normal group of friends around me that I trust. Usually it’s business related, and there are a handful of people that I go to. They keep me sane, they don’t let me become a “Grande Dame Diva”. They make me carry my own luggage, they tell me that I’m ugly, so all of that is very helpful (laughs). I think people need to have that in their lives. I don’t publicly ask for acceptance or likability, I don’t give two shits about that or other people’s opinions. I do when it’s something serious though, I do ask my close circle of friends. Or anyone that I pay (laughs).
MC: You started in New York City with dynamic and talented girls like Bootsie Lefaris and Logan Hardcore. Do you ever miss those times of just being able to go see their shows and be anonymous in a way?
BDR: Yeah, but then I think in retrospect, you always say “that was fun, those were the good old days” and things like that. I am grateful that those girls have been my friends and that they have been my friends this long, so I do keep in touch with them. We know now that whenever I am passing through New York City, we meet up for lunch or dinner and have a conversation and catch up, it’s hard in the bars. I would be a complete asshole though, If I complained about anyone knowing who I was (laughs). C’mon look at the perks to it! If I want to see my friends, I am lucky enough that I get to see them on a personal level. It’s challenging in a bar; but if I complain about that, I sound like a dick (laughs)!
For All Things Bianca Del Rio, check out: http://thebiancadelrio.com/
Clown Shot Courtesy of Rene Koala
Black Dress Shot Courtesy of Logo
Red Hair Shot Courtesy of Jovanni Jimenez Pedraza