Bianca Del Rio is truly in a league of her own. The former New York City mainstay was a legend in the drag world long before she stepped foot in the colorful werk room on RuPaul’s Drag Race. .
Then her expletive-filled cannon shot straight into the sky after she was crowned victorious on the beloved Emmy-winning program. Bianca in the years since has gone on to conquer the world with her sold out tours that has left fans in stitches due to her sharp humor and OMG kind of material.
2021 will be another year for her followers to laugh a little during such a difficult time in the world as she and many other drag stars will be hitting the road during the Drive ‘n Drag tour that begins February 19 in Atlanta.
It was one of the many topics we chatted about during my exclusive interview with her. She also brought up her special moments with Joan Rivers, what she’ll be doing on her upcoming podcast and what it felt like to headline Carnegie Hall prior to the world taking a massive turn.
What’s life been like for you during COVID and how have you been able to find the funny during such a difficult time?
Well, I drink. That helps tremendously. I think what I have to remind myself constantly, aside from drinking, is basically that its nothing personal. The entire world is at a standstill. And that kind of makes things a little better if you know that other people are suffering as well so you don’t feel so bad (laughs).
It’s very hard not to get into your head about it. You find yourself going, “What the hell is going on with me?” and then you’re like, “Wait. Everybody’s in the same boat, we just got to take precaution.” When you’re in entertainment, in general, on one hand you appreciate being home and on the other hand its, “Oh my god! My career’s in the hole. I’m never gonna work again!” That’s just the life of an entertainer.
So you have your ups and downs. You’re forced to be with yourself and your home and your family and not much else to think about but what’s in front of you.
You’re about to hit the road again with the Drive ‘n Drag tour that starts February 19 in Atlanta. Can you tell us a little more about that?
I’m excited! I’ve worked with Voss Events for many years in New York City. They had done two successful runs already of Drive ‘n Drag prior to them asking me to be part of this one. Originally, we were expected to do the show in December for a Christmas Spectacular moment. Because COVID was so high in the cities we were traveling to they decided to move them to February.
Now, we are saving 2021 with drag! I’m looking forward to going on the road and what’s great about Voss in particular is that they are following COVID protocol. We have someone that travels with us and tests us every day so it’s definitely the safest way to do it and hopefully bring some fun in the select cities we’re going to.
You have an incredible cast around you including Kameron Michaels and Asia O’Hara. Who are you looking forward to making fun of the most?
I don’t like any of them! Kidding. What’s crazy is that I know all of them, and I say “all of them” meaning that we’ve been in person together and have done one-off’s or a random event here and there. This will be the first time, however, that I’ve traveled this many days with the girls so I’m just looking forward to hanging out with everyone.
Now, when I get to a specific city, then you’ll hear who I f**king hate. So you’ll find out soon. I give everybody a clean slate this time around until we start touring. Then we’ll see who is the biggest c**t and then I can rag them on stage.
Can you also drop some details about your upcoming podcast?
I’m doing a podcast with Starburns Audio. They’ve been up my butt for a couple of years wanting to do one but I was never in one place at one time to be able to commit to it. It is a huge commitment with scheduling, plotting and planning.
Then, this past year, I was like, “OK. Looks like I’m not going anywhere for a while. Why don’t I attempt to do this.” I didn’t limit the podcast to a specific theme. It’s not like we’re only discussing cooking or Drag Race. I’m kind of leaving it to discuss whatever we want. It just kind of depends on the mood, the situation and what’s going on in the world.
One of my favorite videos of yours was when you did the “In Bed” series with Joan Rivers prior to her passing. What was your biggest memory from your time with her that day?
It’s crazy. A lot of people would think that me winning Drag Race was my biggest accomplishment. Yeah, that’s second. Don’t get me wrong, Drag Race has opened a lot of doors for me so no disrespect, but to be in the company of Joan Rivers was the best.
I was fortunate enough to meet her more than once during my time in New York City when she would be at many red carpet events. I ended up knowing one of her writers that wrote for her, a guy by the name of Tony Tripoli, who was also helping produce In Bed with Joan. And he called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in doing it and I was like, “F**k yeah”.
It was filmed in Melissa Rivers’ home in Los Angeles at the time. I was impressed with Joan’s stamina. I was impressed about her being beyond gracious. That’s something to be said because here’s a woman that doesn’t have to give anybody the time of day. She’s f***ing funny, she’s genius, she’s brilliant. But she was the perfect host because she allows you to do you and let you shine which is something you don’t always get. A generous performer is rare. Especially at her age and status. Why the f**k is she even caring to talk to me? And anytime she would laugh I was a 10-year-old boy going, “Oh my god I can’t believe this is happening.”
It was a wonderful moment for me. And then to find out she passed away, I was in Australia when it happened, was kind of surreal. I just thought, “Oh god. Why take her? There’s so many other people you can take. Don’t take her. We need her!”
I’m not sure if you are aware but there are people on social media who think you’d make a great replacement for Samantha on the upcoming Sex and the City reboot. If they asked you to be part of it would you say yes?
You know what’s funny. Michael Patrick King, who wrote SATC and the movies that followed, was also one of the writers and creators of AJ and the Queen for RuPaul. I met him on set, because I did one of the episodes, and he’s a lovely gay man. So I don’t rule anything out. Put it this way… I’m in the right age group for this!
You traded in the streets of New York City for the sunny skies of Palm Springs in recent years. Settle this myth: are there really a bunch of older men walking around the streets naked?
Not in my neighborhood. The only naked man walking around my neighborhood is Lady Bunny.
I was fortunate enough to see you headline Carnegie Hall back in 2019, which is a huge accomplishment. What was it like to do that?
Getting to do Carnegie Hall was surreal. In the end its like yeah I lived in New York, yeah I did Carnegie Hall, but I also worked in bars that some nights would have ten people and other nights would have none.
As amazing as Carnegie Hall was, in a nutshell, my fantasy didn’t last that much longer because the next night I was in Pittsburgh with folded chairs at this venue where there was no air conditioning and the stage was too high. So you think you made it and then you’re in a s**t venue in Pittsburgh.
Do you have anything else coming up besides the tour and podcast?
I have a new tour that was expected to start early this year, around this time, but we can’t function in proper venues currently. So its on hold at the moment but stay tuned for updates on my official website. And we have a third Hurricane Bianca movie that we’re scheduled to do at some point which will hopefully happen sooner than later.