Upon winning season six of RuPaul's Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio was catapulted to a level of stardom beyond her New York/drag notoriety. She used her newfound power wisely and toured her theatrical/comedy one-woman show Rolodex of Hate around the world. And she found time to star in a feature film, Hurricane Bianca. The world premiere, at the Inside Out Toronto LBGT Film Festival, brought her to town for promotional reasons. Unfortunately her hectic schedule only allowed us a few minutes of conversation so, even though Del Rio's rolodex of hate spins at a frightening and awe-inspiring speed, readers will have to google for the sordid details of Hurricane Bianca, Del Rio's career, aspirations and philosophies of life (or can cheat and view the videos following this interview).
Drew Rowsome: Congratulations on all your success.
Bianca Del Rio: I didn't expect all this grandness so it's quite lovely. And I'm being interviewed in an air-conditioned facility. I am winning now.
When did you find time to write a book?
Well I haven't actually written it yet. We did a manuscript for the book and we're dealing with a company right now that's very interested in distributing it. I had one company but they didn't want to accept any responsibility if people are offended by things that I've said. So I would be held liable. Needless to say it's gone back to the lawyers for re-negotiation.
For Hurricane Bianca there was a Wardrobe Supervisor and a Costume Designer. You're used to creating your own look, how badly did you bust their balls?
You know, I didn't. Matt Kugelman, the director, and I had talked previously and I was only there for 18 days and he just warned me, "Why don't you bring a couple of things just in case?" But I got there and they had a great team, Ryan Mathieu Smith had everything all set for me which is wonderful. And there's this one particular dress that I get to wear later in the movie that we had designed by Broadway designer Mr Greg Barnes who is a friend of mine that I've had the good fortune to work with. He's a brilliant guy and he said, "I'd love to do this dress for you" so I was completely honoured and flattered. I was the lucky one in the end, I just had to sit there and do what everybody told me. I was in very good hands - which very rarely happens.
I'm sure you have lots of very good hands around you.
Well you know, when you grow up Catholic . . .
Now that you're a movie star . . .
That's crazy, don't be crazy. It could still go straight to video. No I'm kidding.
You're not just billed above the title but right in the title. How much more movie star could it get?
No, that's pretty good. I can't complain at all. I was treated very well. A lot of people think that I just won Drag Race so I got to do this movie but in fairness it was my friend Matt who was determined to make this happen. It was his idea, his baby. Of course Drag Race didn't hurt it . . . but it was something he was going to make happen no matter what. It's been a great ride for me.
Was it more work to make the film or raise the money to make the film? Your YouTube fundraising videos are hilarious.
Any time that you're doing any kind of crowdfunding, it's a daunting task. You want to make it different than everyone else's. You want to make it funny, offer more prizes, we offered tons of videos and great items trying to make it special for those people who were interested in doing it. The issue was that at the height of it is when I was travelling with Drag Race so scheduling was always the hard part. But the film itself was a fast process: I had 18 days to go in and make things happen in a quick time. I just work best under pressure, in that environment, but I didn't have much time to think about it, or discuss it, or over-analyse it. It was get in, do it, and roll it. I had to trust the people who were around me and luckily I had great people. The movie part was a breeze for me. Not a breeze, I mean I'm not Meryl Streep, but it was a breeze in handling the business aspect of it.
You didn't have time for method moments?
Is that what you want from me? A good old method movie? I did the whole movie in mime. I have no dialogue. We're trying to bring back silent pictures, you've heard my voice.
How many times a day do you use the word "cunt?"
Well I only talk to my mother once . . . "Cunt," it's such an easy word to use but people are offended by it so maybe I use it more than I should because it does bother people. I think it's not that serious but in my world sometimes"bitch" just doesn't cut it. You've got to go for the word that really means it. A bitch is just a bitch, someone can be bitchy, but I think a cunt is a conniving, nasty bitch. So "cunt" usually works.
How does your new show Not Now Satan, which we should plug as you'll be back in October to perform it, differ from Rolodex of Hate?
Well . . . it's Not Today Satan . . . The great thing about it is that when I was doing the show last year a lot happened over the year while I was travelling, that I couldn't necessarily add into the show. I was going to follow my initial instinct and start talking about what was going on in my world but a friend of mine was like, "Do you realize that that opens up a whole new show you can do later?" Because the Rolodex material was already set and paid for. So I sort of jotted down things that happened throughout the day that were amusing or something that I hated and that's what the shows about, me discussing scenarios, things I've experienced, things that I love about the world we live in, because I think it's important for people to hear my side of it.
For a change.
For a change. Because sometimes you can't put all of your thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter, you need to do it in an hour and a half long show.
You refer to yourself as a clown as opposed to a female impersonator or a glamazon, and you went into a more stand-up career instead of pop music. Do you find it more satisfying to get a laugh than to just be a glamorous icon?
Let's face it there are people who are made to be glamorous icons and there are people who are made to sing. Sadly, the people who think they can sing and the people who think they are glamorous, are not. I'm well aware of what I am and by no means do I try to use any of those as my strong point. Some people that's all they have. But it's never been my thing. There's nothing beautiful, or sexual, or exciting, or . . . it's just not me. So it's never worked. Kudos to the people who've been successful, and there's a handful who've been successful. They also think that with the Drag Race formula that everybody puts out an album, whether it's shitty or not, and everybody makes a video whether they've lost their money or not, and that's not really the exposure I want. I don't know what I want to do but I know what I don't want to do which is what they've done. Nowadays, sadly, you have to build a show to travel to make money. By doing a show, a live show - and I love a live audience so making a video or making an album doesn't appeal to me - it's more about being in the moment with an audience. And these days, to make a living you have to travel. Madonna's still touring for Christ's sake, you know. And by no means am I comparing myself to Madonna. Except in age. I don't think I need the title of this to be "Bianca thinks she's Madonna." I know how you operate.
I'd rather have "Bianca calls Madonna a cunt"as the title.
That's a good title: Bianca calls Madonna a cunt. Use it.
Now that you and Nyle Dimarco have given reality TV a good name, any plans to kardashianize your career with a sex tape?
Could you imagine? Though I have done porn before. But not in the way that you want, I mean I don't fuck people in the movie. But I do those pivotal scenes, those scenes that are very important, before the intercourse takes place. I had a friend over, he writes porn, he writes for men.com and Michael Lucas, and he said, "I have this part for you in this porn." And I was like, "Are you kidding me?" Then I found out what it was and it was so ridiculous that I was oh my god I've got to do this. So I'm in drag and I'm doing it and then months later when it's released a friend of mine sends me a text saying "I'm home jerking off and you came on-screen and I just can't." And I texted back that I was so impressed he could type with a greasy hand. You've hit an all-time low when you've done that so I have no shame in my game. I don't think I could ever be a Kardashian because I actually have talent.
You once said that the objective is not to look like a woman but to look like "an extended version of a woman." Is there a diva, you slaughtered as Judge Judy, that you'd like to rise to the level of?
As far as the look is concerned, when people ask, "What's your aesthetic? What's drag to you?" I always say, "I'm a cross between Bozo the Clown and Joan Crawford," which is a good mix. I want to be successful. There are so many people out there working that you wonder, "How the fuck did they get there?" For me, as long as you get to work, and you get to create, and to have the opportunity, I'm open to it all. There are people who fascinate me. If I could be a mixture of Dolly Parton, I love Dolly Parton, Judge Judy, Oprah, all the good ones.
But none of them are nasty.
They are. And not in a fun way. What would they be if they're nasty? A cunt.