Wednesday, August 6, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: My Interview With Bianca Del Rio


Over the years, I’ve interviewed a lot of people. I remember one in particular (although I won’t name names) where the answers were pretty much “yes” and “no”. That’s death for an interview. I always hope for someone on the other end who likes to talk and wants to have a conversation. Bianca del Rio is one of those people.

Bianca cut to the chase with every question I asked and gave me an honest response. Let me say this, despite the criticism that the RuPaul contestants get from time to time, they tend to be more honest than most. Comedians, which is a group Bianca belongs to, are the most honest when I talk to them. Not only do they appreciate the fabric of humanity, but they live to make fun of it and at the same time call out those who, in this day and age, condemn them for being “mean”.

What is mean? What is humor? How far should it go? In my opinion humor shouldn’t be bound by what some deem as offensive. Good humor, which Bianca excels at, doesn’t follow the rules of a PC society. 




Bianca del Rio is the winner of the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She will be appearing in Fresno LIVE at the North Tower Circle on Thursday August 28th (details at the end of this article).



CHRIS JARVIS

As you travel around the country, what do you see in the LGBT community? What is the climate like?

BIANCA DEL RIO

The kids are what’s quite shocking to me. I think it’s amazing to listen to 13 year olds or 15 year olds saying things like “My mom and I watch the show”. Because when I started out, there wasn’t anything like it on TV. Of course, with social media now, you have the opportunity to speak with them and to reach out to them. Having a show in everyone’s living room for that amount of time is pretty amazing. Kudos to the show for making us human, especially this season, in a room full of catty bitches. It shows that you can be a successful gay man who happens to do drag who is not a monster. By leaps and bounds, it’s by far different than when I was a kid.

CJ

So how was it when you were a kid?

BDR

It was different. On occasion I would see Jimmy James or Coco Peru or Lypsinka on Joan Rivers’ talk show. But I think she was the only one who showed them in a positive light. RuPaul, of course, had the VH1 talk show, but that was really about it. Everything else was either Jerry Springer or those shows where it was poking or making fun of drag queens. I always tell people that back in the day you had to go to a bar or a cabaret room to find a drag performer. Now it’s great because it’s celebrated on such a mainstream level. It was a different world. It wasn’t even looked at as entertainment, I felt. And I had some amazingly talented gay friends who said, “Queen, you need to know who Charles Pierce is”, “Queen, you need to watch ALL ABOUT EVE”. And all those things helped me because it’s the old school way of doing things and they don’t do that so much anymore, which is kind of sad.

CJ

How do you feel about the recent controversy involving the word police?

BDR

I come at it from comedy. I’m a man in a wig, so for me, I don’t take things personally. Even at Drag Race, you have to take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt. You know, it’s kind of fascinating, the amount of people that have an opinion on everything. I don’t think people’s opinions now are stronger, I just think we hear more of them. People can hide behind a keyboard, or form a group, they can have a blog and call themselves a writer, anything is possible. Very rarely are these people going to have this conversation with you in your face, which is where the conversation should happen. In 144 characters or less, you really can’t defend yourself. It can be very difficult. People are just a little too fucking sensitive and there are bigger things to worry about than what a drag queen is saying in a bar in the middle of the night.

 


CJ

How does this translate in your shows? You do a lot of scathing comedy, which I personally love, but I hear a lot of blowback. Even locally, I’ve listened to people say how the drag queens are “just being mean”.

BDR

It’s called mean if you’re an idiot. If you’re smart, then you understand it. Consider the source. That’s what people don’t realize. Let’s break it down. If I go to a city and I lip synch to Beyonce, we accept the fact that that queen is not really Beyonce and she’s not really singing. It’s a show, it’s entertainment. How is that different or why do we accept it more than a queen who is making jokes in the same bar? People lose sight of what’s going on. And when they say things like “you’re a role model”…I’m a man in a wig who makes a living making jokes. That’s what I do. It’s not a selective thing. It’s either your cup of tea or it’s not. Back in the day, when you didn’t like something, you walked away. Now it’s uproar, you’re upsetting the community, etc. The funny thing is that the people I know get it. The people that I’ve been around, understand what it is. It’s fascinating that the people that have never been there or who have nothing to do with it, have the most to say about it.

CJ

You know, I interviewed Lisa Lampanelli last year…

BDR

Who I love

CJ

I asked her the same question. I said, how does your humor translate to middle America, or to the South? I asked her how she deals with this when she goes somewhere conservative and she said they love it even more.

BDR

I think in a room of 200 people that you can have a handful that don’t like it, and that’s fine. This is my observation, from my perspective. I’m not standing on the steps of the White House. I don’t have a cult. I don’t have a book. It’s just my opinion, in a bar, in the middle of the night. I think people forget that. I think it’s sad. For as far as we’ve come, mentally, a lot of people haven’t grasped it yet.

CJ

I think we’re losing our sense of humor

BDR

I think there are people who are advocates, who are trailblazers. There are people who are doing amazing things for the gay community. I think they should be applauded, I’m all for everyone getting gay rights. I’m all for everyone having equal rights and marriage. But I’m an entertainer doing a show. I’m doing comedy. It’s not the end of the world.

CJ

What about James Franco and you at Broadway Bares? Did you get to talk to him or just rip his pants off?

BDR

Broadway Bares is something I’ve supported for many years and I was very excited that this year they asked me to be a part of it. And as you know it’s very talented Broadway performers getting naked and I was like, hell no, I’m not getting naked. They said, no, we want you to do a scene with James Franco, and I said is he cool with it, because you never know. They said, no, it’s totally cool. Then I got the script the day of and it said that I would rip his pants off. So we had rehearsal maybe an hour before and he couldn’t have been nicer. He was a doll. His handlers were annoying, but they were fags so go figure. A couple of jokes didn’t work at the first show but I was able to change them and it went much better. And his ass was quite nice, of course.

 


CJ

Well listen, you’ve been traveling all over the world so you must be exhausted. What’s the weirdest situation you’ve run into?

BDR

First of all, I never say I’m exhausted or tired. I’m grateful. I’ve been that person who has not had gigs so I’m well aware that this is a good ride right now. And I’m not going around the world curing cancer, I’m doing a fucking drag show. I can sleep when I’m dead. I’m not flying the plane, I’m not running the hotel, so it’s pretty nice, I must say. The strangest thing was when I was traveling to Wisconsin and they lost my luggage. The people were amazing and the show was great but the situation was not cute. We got in at 6pm and no luggage so it was supposed to be on a later flight. 8:30, quarter to nine, still no luggage. So I end up at Walmart at 9pm to get everything I need to get into drag for a show at 10pm. So it truly was a drag race challenge! I had nothing, no underwear, no panty hose, no lashes, nothing. You’ve seen my face. It’s not like you just do it with a couple of pieces of real girl makeup. I eventually had to venture over to the school supply aisle. Luckily everyone was very kind. I was able to turn a scarf into a turban and what else I could find into a fashionable ensemble. The girls there were beyond helpful and the staff was amazing. You know I always say “What’s a drag queen without her luggage?…a man!” 





CJ

So which celebrity would you really like to read?

BDR

Oh my God, there’s so many. The people I want to read aren’t even real celebrities. Anyone in the Kardashian family. Tori Spelling, oh, that douche. And 90 percent of the people on Bravo.

CJ

I’ve got a couple of questions from people here in the community. Chad Rudd wants to know how influential Lady Bunny was to you. 



BDR

She’s amazing. I met her when I was 20 years old, in New Orleans. I was doing drag and hosting a show, and I was doing Cher in the show as well. And she came to me after the show and she said, you know other people are going to do Cher, and they’re going to do Cher better and they’re going to live their lives doing Cher because that’s what they do. She said you’re really funny and you need to find your niche and your look and your gimmick and you’ll be very successful. Years later I’m in New York and we’re working together and I decided to re-live this story with her and she said (Bianca does a spot on Bunny impersonation) “Girl, I told you to run into traffic and die!”. But she’s been a big influence on me because she’s got her shit together. She’s got a really sick sense of humor and I’ve always loved people that make me laugh, and she’s one of them.

CJ

Another question from the community here is from ATown. How do you feel Drag Kings on RuPaul would work out. Has that ever been discussed?

BDR

You know, the people who do the show are very smart and I don’t think they get enough credit. The show is done by World Of Wonder and LOGO broadcasts the show. LOGO is amazing, obviously, and they carry the show but it’s World Of Wonder and they’re genius. They’re always trying to do things to change it up. I didn’t think they would have four of over the age of 35 and they just did that. So I think there are no rules. Why not? Drag Kings are part of our culture and I’ve been to many shows with them and performed with many of them.

CJ

And Gilberto Torentela wants to know…if you could say anything to the Westboro Baptist Church what would it be?

BDR

Oh God, why give them any more ammunition? The thing that I’ve realized with anyone who is that full of hate, or other people who annoy me, people who are assholes…all I have to do is realize in my heart that they’re going to die. That’s the payback. They will die. Let it run its course. They’re going to die miserable people. I’m from New Orleans and I’ve seen many of them at Mardi Gras and Decadence. And I always question a large group of men that show up at a gay event to hang around one another and yell at another group of people. How often, when they’ve been yelling out “you’re a fag” and “you’re going to hell” has that fag turned around, dropped his drink, dropped his boa and said “You’re right, I’ll follow you”. It doesn’t happen. So they’re obviously there for other reasons.

CJ

So what’s the status of the film you’re working on, “Hurricane Bianca”?

BDR

We just finished our second campaign for it and we’re planning to shoot next summer. With independent films once you get the money then you can get the cast and the schedule, so it’s been a slow process, only because in the middle of all of it I went to do Drag Race, which of course helped immensely. We had several people who very generously donated and we raised over a hundred thousand dollars. 







BIANCA DEL RIO LIVE IN FRESNO ON AUGUST 28TH !

You can see Bianca del Rio LIVE in her only Fresno performance, at the North Tower Circle on Thursday, August 28th. Tickets are available online as well as at the door. VIP tables are sold out. The show, hosted by locals Leilani Price and Sondra St James, will also include exclusive local performances and a Meet & Greet afterwards with Bianca del Rio. Professional photographers will be at the event for pictures. Bottle service is also available by contacting the North Tower Circle at 559-325-4429

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