The Big Smoke speaks to the fabulous Bianca Del Rio, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Six, and we find out why everyone hates helping her move.
TBS: What do you think is the key factor in you having the resilience throughout your career and ultimately ending up the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Bianca Del Rio: I didn’t know that much about the show, or how the game worked, or who in the past has lip-synced and who didn’t; for me it was just do the challenges to the best of my ability. If you can’t sing, dance, act, sew or do comedy on some level, you’re kind of screwed because that’s what they are asking you to do. So, instead of thinking about other people I just focused on myself as that was better than worrying about everyone else. I knew what I could produce in the amount of time … and if I didn’t, or it was not to their liking, I would have to stand by it, which is what I tried to do.
I was doing drag for a long time prior to doing the show, so I was kind of used to what I could get out of myself in such short notice. When you are there, it all moves rather quickly and you don’t have much time to think. Now when I sit back and watch the show I think, Oh wow, I would have worn this, or I would have done my hair differently, but you don’t think about it at the time.
TBS: How do you handle the trolls?
Bianca Del Rio: Well I lived in a world prior to social media, so it was pretty shocking to have the love and respect AND the hate, which goes hand in hand out there. I was not a Twitter or Instagram user prior to the show; maintaining it and trying to keep up with all the inside stuff is somewhat challenging. Truthfully, it doesn’t bother me what anyone else has to say, I always have to sit back and think, You are taking the time to write on my page, that says a lot about you.
They would never say that shit to my face and, if they did, I would gladly welcome it because I would love to have a verbal war with someone, but sadly that’s the society in which we live. I, for example, don’t particularly care for the Kardashian family, but I don’t go to their walls or their pages or buy their magazines or entertain any of it. So really, it’s kinda silly if you hate someone to go out of your way to write or print something, it’s so ridiculous.
It hasn’t affected my job, it hasn’t affected my work ethic, and it hasn’t affected my bank account, so, God bless them, take all the time to write away. It’s usually from some ignorant person who knows nothing about drag to begin with and they usually have horrible writing skills. When it’s funny, I enjoy it … but it is rarely funny.
TBS: You have nods towards geniuses like Don Rickles—do you feel this current generation has experienced a loss by not being so aware of that style of comedy?
Bianca Del Rio: What’s interesting, with the resources we have in the world to find anything, people just don’t research. A lot of people will watch Drag Race and think it’s the be all and end all of drag without realizing that everyone comes from a different form and everyone comes from a different sense of drag and comedy. A lot of people don’t examine or study it, they think they know everything based on what they see in front of them, which is so silly.
I was fortunate to grow up with some amazing talented people who shaped my life and also sat back and said, “You need to know who Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Dame Edna, and Charles Pearce are because that’s important! You need to see movies like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, you need to see Auntie Mame!” Sadly, that’s kind of lost on the youth of today. Whenever I can, I try to encourage them and give advice, which is, do your fucking research and learn about these people, because you can learn a lot.
TBS: I would still argue though that Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte was still creepier than Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bianca Del Rio: Oh, it was creepier. They knew they could get away with creepy then, Baby Jane was the test. The backstory about Joan Crawford being in the movie, then getting out of the movie, and Olivia de Havilland stepping in was quite a spectacle at the time.
TBS: Who do you consider the most intriguing recent celebrity/political figure to watch?
Bianca Del Rio: I have always loved Madonna and I am happy she is making a comeback again. I thought her fall on stage recently was genius. She has always been a big part of my life and I love her new album and I love that she is touring again. It’s always good to see people who work hard, she has been around for a while and paved the way for many people, so when I see something good happen to her I think, Yay! More power to her!
TBS: What is the worst way for a person to try and get your attention?
Bianca Del Rio: To say, “Notice me!” When people say that on social media or they go out of their way to complain that you didn’t respond to an email when you have hundreds of emails on a daily basis. I have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter, so I try to put out as many fires as I can, but usually I am at an airport or on a plane schlepping around the world, which is amazing, but it’s hard to keep up with it all.
TBS: Follow me or I will drown myself.
Bianca Del Rio: Well, yeah! Follow me … if I followed everyone, then my newsfeed would be even more clogged. I appreciate all the support, but I try to do it the best way I can and keep my sanity.
TBS: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Bianca Del Rio: Oh wow. Well, it was the advice that people gave me. Find your path and find your way. The guidance I was given was to find what is going to work for you, which is advice I would totally give to someone else and I am glad I had that at that time. I didn’t plan on being a drag queen, or doing it up to the age of 39, and be living in New York, and travelling around the world. I didn’t plan to do Drag Race. It’s all things that happened by living in the moment and staying true to what you do. 18 years of being in bars and doing bingo and drag shows all paid off in the end; I was able to use all of that as part of my journey on Drag Race, which changed my life.
TBS: What is your favorite pretentious word to say? Mine is dichotomy, in unrelated situations.
Bianca Del Rio: Ooh, dichotomy is quite lovely! Wow. I don’t really have a favorite word. I think my favorite saying is, “Don’t insult my intelligence.” That’s one of those things … people don’t really know where you’re coming from or what you’re doing, so I think sometimes when they don’t know, they lash out and make a comment without knowing it’s in reference to something else or they try to correct you on social media and I think, Don’t insult my intelligence, because I thought about it before I put it out there, assholes.
TBS: What is the one gift you pretty much always will re-gift?
Bianca Del Rio: Oh my god, I really have had amazing gifts on this journey, but I haven’t re-gifted anything yet. Usually I get pretty good gifts because I don’t like surprises and all my friends know not to get me shit, but I have boxes of stuff and each time I am home for a day or two, I go through the stuff that people who love the show have made for me … so, amazing artwork, things people have knitted for me, and Bianca dolls … I haven’t had a chance to part with any of that yet. Re-gifting is something I haven’t done in a long time, so I don’t know what I would re-gift.
TBS: What is your favorite inspirational quote or person, as clichéd as it may be?
Bianca Del Rio: Let’s see … Joan Rivers: “Life is short, everything is funny, laugh.” I may have said that the wrong way but I recently read it and re-posted it on Instagram and it’s true—laugh at life, because it’s short and in the end, the alternative is death … so, come on, laugh and enjoy it while you can!
TBS: Tell us something NO ONE knows about you … until now …
Bianca Del Rio: I like to read! I am a big book collector and Courtney Act, who is a good friend of mine, has been trying to get me onto the kindles and all that shit, but I physically like the actual books. I buy lots of books and when I am in a hotel room in another country, I get on Amazon and I buy everything under the sun, which is why all my friends hate me every time I move. They always say, “OH I will help you move!” then they are like, “No, never again.”