Bianca Del Rio Is Here To Save 2021, And She Is Doing It Along With Her Fellow "RuPaul's Drag Race" Queens
Have no fears this year, because Bianca Del Rio is here!
I think we can all agree (and if you don’t, you can fight me on it) that Bianca Del Rio is perhaps the most iconic and successful queen to ever compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race, period. I mean, she would get into the RPDR herstory books just on her Judge Judy "Snatch Game" performance alone! And since winning Season 6, Bianca has done everything from touring the world nonstop with her stand-up shows to starring in her Hurricane Bianca films and even occasionally popping back in as a special guest on Drag Race.
And while Bianca pretty much took a break for most of 2020, because of the pandemic, she is coming back with ~superpowers~ this year as the headliner for Voss Events’ Drive ‘N Drag Saves 2021, a superhero-themed show that will be hitting up nine cities across the country from Feb. 19 through March 21. And the show will also feature her fellow Ru Girls Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Naomi Smalls, Kameron Michaels, Plastique Tiara, and Violet Chachki. Ahead of the tour, BuzzFeed got a chance to talk to Bianca about everything from how quarantine life is treating her to whether or not she would want to do an all-winners All Stars.
Alright, Bianca, I have to ask the now go-to standard question: How's the quarantine treating you?
Bianca Del Rio: Well, you know, I'm drinking, like most, and I'm trying to make the best of a fucked-up situation and keeping my brain occupied in the best way possible. You know? I think like everybody, you try to find that balance. And I think the only perk to it is that you know that everyone else is in the same boat you're in. So it's not that insanity of like, "Oh, my god, the world is closing down on ME." It's happening to everybody.
I wanted to ask — because you're someone who's been on the road for years and years and years, and also tours year-round — has this break been weird for you? I feel like it must be a lot like when you've stopped riding a bicycle; you sort of have to learn to get back on again.
BDR: Oh yeah...oh yeah, yeah, yeah! I've given up [laughs]... No, it's a completely different feeling. I had a fitting yesterday and I was wearing heels for maybe an hour, and I gotta say I felt an unbelievable pain, like I hadn't been in that type of pain in a while. So it's that thing. I think it's just the readjustment phase that will be interesting when I go on the road, which is happening this month, actually, with Voss Events' Drive ‘N Drag Saves 2021. So it'll be challenging to be in shoes and doing two shows a day. But you got to kind of get out there and do it. I think that's the only way to handle it. You know what I mean? I'm an old bitch, so 25 years of wearing heels and just taking a year off is wild.
Something I was curious about, because I know you did a few digital things last year: Most notably, you co-hosted a fundraiser with Lady Bunny to help local queens across the country. Could you see yourself doing more digital stuff in the future sort of post-pandemic? Or is that just not for you?
BDR: Well, I mean, I think we struggle in our society now with context. So it's a weird thing when you do insult comedy, or anything on that level, and you record it. And then you're presenting it to a virtual audience. It's a little different. I mean, even with shows that I've recorded and filmed, it's a different vibe — and I also hate watching myself — so I prefer a live audience. But I think if anything, 2020 has showed us that you kind of have to make the best of every situation there is.
I think one of the reasons why I did fewer shows last year was because I was just assuming it was going to end rather quickly [laughs]. You know what I thought, Oh, well, in a month, things will be better. And now seeing how things are, I've actually started a podcast, which will start this month with Starburns Audio. I'm able to do my new Bianca Del Rio Podcast because I'm actually in one place for a spell.
So I'm not opposed to it. And I've gotten a little tech-savvy, if you can imagine being 45 years old and finally figuring out how to work computer! It just requires a little effort, but I think that's probably where all of us are heading. So I wouldn't pooh-pooh the idea. I think I'll probably end up doing more than I thought initially, for sure.
So you're headlining Drive ‘N Drag Saves 2021, which also has a great lineup. How did you guys come together? And are you excited to be back on the road again?
BDR: I'm excited to get back on the road for sure. I'm excited to work. I'm not excited about the people I'm with. But that's, you know, any drag queen [laughs]. Actually Brandon Voss, whom I've known for many, many years — and whom I’ve worked with in New York for many years before Drag Race — had done I think at least two other drive-in drag tours this last year that were extremely successful. And he reached out and said, "Would you be interested in doing one for Christmas?" Because originally, we were expected to start this tour last year, in December, and travel through the South. But then COVID-19 numbers were really high in those particular cities. So he decided to move it to 2021, which brought us to, well obviously, we couldn't do a Christmas theme. So we switched it up to, you know, our superhero theme, where we're saving 2021 by bringing drag to the masses in basically the safest way possible, which is in a parking lot.
A follow-up question on that: How did you guys come up with your superhero characters?
BDR: You know, I'm not really sure what the process was for everyone, but unanimously they all decided that I was Super Cunt. So that's who I am in the show. There's no beauty, there's no kindness, it's just factual: Super Cunt. I didn't have much say in it, and it seems rather fitting. But, I'm sure the girls have something glamorous. You know how they are... They're all like, "Fire! Water!" Yeah, yeah, not me.
At least you didn't get cast as the villain.
BDR: Well, Super Cunt is borderline [laughs]. Depends on how many drinks I've had.
Is there a queen on this tour that you're excited to work with?
BDR: [Laughs] No, no, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I'm actually looking forward to all of them. I mean, I think as a drag queen, you connect with people one-on-one, groupwise. Sometimes I go, "I don't get it." But I don't get to travel that often with with a gang, so I'm excited to go. And you know, we're COVID-19 tested. One of the best things about doing the Voss tour is that they have their COVID-19 protocol and a COVID-19 representative who travels with us. We're also tested every day. So if the girls are getting poked, whether it's in their nose or in their ass, I'm sure they'll be good. And I'm praying that they're going to be on their best behavior. But you know, we'll see. I mean, by the time I get to Atlanta, if somebody is a bitch, you'll hear about it...onstage during the show!
And you can talk about what they did on your podcast, too.
BDR: Without a doubt. Trust me, I've already mapped it out.
I am curious to know how you're going to adapt to this new way of performing for a live audience. Normally when you're performing, you're onstage and you get to interact with the audience, but here your audience is in a car. How do you see yourself being able to connect with the audience? Especially when all you see is just a sea of headlights in front of you.
BDR: [Laughs] I knew what I was getting into, and I know what I'm getting into, but I'm cackling when you said "in a car." I'm sure it's going to be strange... I mean, maybe I can detail their car during the show. I don't know exactly how it's gonna work out. I'm just so happy to be anywhere near where there's people. Even if they are far away from me, trapped in a vehicle, I'm just gonna have to roll with it. I think after all these years in drag, this is a new one for me. Not the parking lot though; I've always done my best work in parking lots. But I think this distance and cars, we shall see. I mean, there's no way to lie to you, Brian. I have no idea how it's gonna turn out [laughs].
Now, I wanted to ask you a couple questions about RuPaul's Drag Race. My first question is: As someone who has been on the show — and of course, won — do you still get excited watching the show now?
BDR: I think it's sweet that you assume I watch it! [Laughs] Well, the interesting thing is that I was not a huge fan of the show, before I did the show. When it first started, I was in living in New York at the time. And, of course, all the gays would go to the bars and watch it. (And it was a theme night. Everybody was into it.) But, I didn't get into it because the time slot was weird. I'd have to get ready for my own drag event that I would have to do later that evening, while it was airing — 'cause I had a full-time job then and I would come home from that and have to get into drag. My roommate back then loved the show, wanted to be on the show, and knew everything about the show. So it wasn't until I think Season 5, when they were having a marathon of Season 4 with Sharon [Needles] and Season 5 with Jinkx [Monsoon] that was kind of airing back-to-back, that I watched and actually thought, Oh, wow, this is pretty amazing.
Once I did the show, I hit the ground running and went on the road. So I was on the road all those years. And when you're in other countries — I mean, this is before WOW Presents Plus and being able to stream it online — I was in a hotel room every other night and didn't have access to it. So I kind of fell out of it. And then, of course, through social media I’ve found it the best way to kind of get the dirt and find out what was happening, get the recap. However, whenever I'm doing something publicly or doing something related with the show, I do catch up with it. But now there's like 92,000 franchises. I can't keep up!
Well, funny enough, that leads me to my next question. The show has only gotten bigger and bigger over the years and there is an argument that the show has gotten too big and it’s ruining drag. What are your thoughts on that?
BDR: This particular show has given drag global exposure and I only say that from personal experience, because I've been able to travel the world from being on this show and reach audiences that I didn't even imagine possible, which is a perk. But then there's also a downside to all of that. You know, now you have everyone who's an expert on drag and not to say that someone can't have an opinion. But, it does become blurred, so I think with all the good, there is bad. But as far as drag in general, it’s making more people go out to see drag. I think that's amazing. I think the fact that drag is in people's living rooms is amazing. And I can only hope the people that are on the show have talent and have the ability to travel with the show and be as widely accepted as I've been.
BDR: With everything that's going on, I think half of my conversations with everyone I know during this past year have been memes and links and "Look at this, girl," and "Ooh, check that out." And I have to say it was shocking, pretty shocking. The footage, the photos, the negligence, the negligence that was documented. But I feel the same way when I look at people like the Kardashians and stuff. You know, it's like, I have no problem with someone taking a vacation. I have no problem with someone having a party. What I'm fascinated with is knowing the climate or basically the tone in the room and you do it, you document it, you post it, and assume that someone's not going to have a problem with it.
Obviously, I'm not a fan of canceling people. I say, do whatever the fuck you want to do, but sometimes it does come with some repercussions. I'm amazed at the people who are just negligent and think that they're untouchable. You can go to a party and you can vacation. But do you have to document it and put it out there knowing what people are going to do, because there is no context to it. I think it's a very tricky, slippery slope; but if you're out there taking photos on a beach with no mask on, you're fucked. You're gonna be publicly and, of course, people are gonna run with that without knowing the story or care.
You spoke a little bit about your podcast that's coming up soon, but what else do you have planned or want to do this year?
BDR: Well, I'd like to go to some place more than my grocery store, which would be nice. But I do have a new tour to announce, and I have a third installment in my films Hurricane Bianca that we're looking to hopefully film. All of this was obviously set for last year and going into this year. I've also been very adamant about not putting anything out if I have to move the date. And we're just kind of in this holding pattern. You know, we're circling the airport for a new tour, for a new podcast, and a couple of surprise things that are suppose to be happening this year. But in the end, it's just, it's a tricky place until the world kind of gets I don't want to say normal, but to some sense of normality. Hopefully sooner than later that we can get back on the road again.
Do you have a dream guest or guests for your podcast?
BDR: Oh my god, I've been amazed at the people whom I've reached out to — which I can't really tell you at the moment — who actually knew who the fuck I was or even cared or even agreed. That was shocking. So a dream? I would...hmm...Tiffany Trump, just because she seems like she'd be an asshole. I would have to go with her. You know, why not? And no one ever picks her. So let me be nice, for once.
I wanted to ask you one final question because I would, basically, be reamed if I didn't ask. There's a lot of fan speculation about there being a winners-only All Stars edition of Drag Race. So the obvious question is: Would you participate in that?
BDR: I have no desire to participate in that shit [laughs], let's be real. I'm going to be as honest as I can be. I did it the first time, I came out unscathed, and I have no desire to go back. Everybody was chosen for a certain reason for their season and why people like them. It's also a tricky situation. I've also had friends of mine who had been on the show and have gone back to All Stars and completely regretted it. And I've seen how it's ruined them mentally. I'm also not a fan of going into debt for ridiculous costumes that I would never wear to try to please a panel of judges. So no, I'm good. I'm grateful for the opportunity and all of that. But yeah, that's that. I mean, would you go back to high school? Nah.
I don't know, for $100,000, maybe?
BDR: Girl, please. Supermarket Sweep gives you $100,000 an episode, okay! I'd rather go do Supermarket Sweep, than spend months doing Drag Race to get $100,000 and be trapped with BeBe Zahara Benet... No, thank you [laughs]. Supermarket Sweep is a $100,000 episode! Drag Race needs to step it up! These girls are getting death threats for $100,000. That's wild. Supermarket Sweep, you can go and get your little basket, fill it with some shit and $100,000, then you're out — that's the way to go. I think you can read between the lines. My answer is no.
Fair enough. Fair enough.
BDR: It truly also, not to make jokes, does depend on scheduling and all that kind of madness, and if it's possible. But first and foremost, I would never walk away from my own show to go do something else if I have something else planned. As of right now: no.
And I think all the other queens who would participate are probably breathing a sigh of relief when they hear that you're not coming, because I think the consensus is that you would probably win it.
BDR: I don't know. Like I said, everybody was chosen for a different reason on their seasons. But to return, there would have to be some type of twist that I would find beneficial or something that would perk my interest. All Stars, obviously, is a different beast than Drag Race. The goal on Drag Race in general was "Don't lip-synch" and you're in the top. Whereas on All Stars, it's like, "Oh, you won" and you lip-synch and then you are in the top. So it's just a different dynamic. And maybe if I were 20 or 30, I think, Oh, let's try it. But at 45, I'm like, "Let them assholes do it."