No topic should be off-limits to a comedian; that said, certain hard topics demand more gravity, creativity and care than others, at the risk of turning everyone off.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio is embroiled in controversy following some pretty tasteless jokes she made last month during a set at Montreal Pride.
As reported by Pink News, Del Rio went after Drag Race season 10 contestant Blair St. Clair, who told RuPaul that she had been sexually assaulted in the past. Del Rio insinuated that St. Clair’s narrative was strategic, as she dropped the bombshell when she was at risk of being eliminated.
“Then you’ve got that other bitch—‘I was raped!’” Del Rio chided.
This is when the audience turned on Del Rio, booing the performer. But that didn’t stop her from escalating.
“No, f**k you, you notice she wasn’t raped until she was in the bottom two? Think about that, that’s strategy. F**k you, rape is funny if you haven’t had it. And if you weren’t raped, remember this–you ugly.”
More, louder boos (the performance was recorded, watch here).
But Del Rio kept digging a whole, making it worse: “Oh we’re supposed to have sympathy? F**k you. It is what it is, faggots.”
Lovely. Such tact.
The producers of Montreal Pride released an apology for the remarks in an official statement, saying they will take “the necessary steps to ensure that such situations do not happen again.”
As of this writing, Del Rio has offered no apology for her comments. The performer’s real name is Roy Haylock, the most successful Drag Race contestant ever.
St. Clair was quick to tweet her thoughts about the jokes:
“In the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes, but people persist in thinking that making rape or sexual assault jokes is ‘comedy.’ It is not,” she said in a tweet which swiftly went viral. “Rape jokes contribute to rape culture.”
Also reported by Pink News, other LGBTQ+ performers and sexual assault survivors have some choice words for Del Rio.
Katie Russell of the charity Rape Crisis England & Wales, points at the likelihood that sexual assault survivors were present in the audience:
“The overwhelming likelihood is there’ll be multiple victims and survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape in any audience of any show, many of whom will understandably be upset and distressed by so-called ‘rape jokes,’ or have memories or flashbacks of their own experiences triggered by this kind of material. Sexual violence and abuse victims and survivors deserve to be able to enjoy stand-up comedy and nights out as much as anyone else. And as a society, we need to stop making light of these topics.”
Sexual assault survivor Jen Powell, who performs as drag king Adam All, doesn’t mince words, saying, “Rape is never funny. Making a joke out of it makes light of a very serious problem in our society, normalizing it, allowing people to see it as trivial or minor, that it happens, suggesting that people should just get over it.”
For more on this story, including other LGBTQ+ performers’ take, and words from sexual assault survivors, visit Pink News.
Where do you stand on this? Let us know in the comments.