In just a little over a week, legendary drag queen, comedian, actor and author Bianca Del Rio brings her Unsanitized Comedy Tour to Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Bianca’s shows have always been fan favorites in Nashville, and her past tours have broken records with audiences around the world. She made history on her previous global comedy tour as the first drag queen to headline Carnegie Hall and Wembley Arena, selling out both venues!
Bianca Del Rio, otherwise known as Roy Haylock, is a larger-than-life comedy queen from New Orleans who grew up the son of immigrant parents from Cuba and Honduras. Bianca has met success in a wide range of media, from standup to movies, starring in “Hurricane Bianca” (Netflix) and its sequel "Hurricane Bianca 2: From Russia with Hate” (Hulu).
Bianca has also been the subject of the Logo original television special Not Today Bianca, she penned Blame It On Bianca Del Rio (Harper Collins 2018), she hosts the new Bianca Del Rio Podcast, and has her own makeup remover, a top seller on Amazon. She’s even got a vodka! Bianca also recently made her West End debut in the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie where she plays the role of Hugo/Loco Chanelle, and she returns to her role to do the UK live tour later this year.
You can catch Bianca in Nashville at TPAC on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m.! Click here for tickets and information! It’s been a couple of years since Bianca made it to Nashville, and we caught up with her in advance of the tour to catch up!
Interview with Bianca Del Rio
Bianca Del Rio: Hi James! How are you?
James: I'm doing well, how are you?
Bianca Del Rio: I'm alive, which is better than the alternative, you know what I mean? I think the goal here is "Do not turn on the news or read social media and you will be fine!
James: Exactly, exactly. If you can't stream it, it's not worth watching.
Bianca Del Rio: No, it's a hot mess. Oh my god! I'm so conflicted, but that's a whole nother story!
James: Speaking of conflicted, I'm going to jump to the question I was saving for last and ask you about Gia Gunn, since we're just gonna start with COVID...
Bianca del Rio: I mean it's just the irony of it all ... but go a head!
James: Normally your cutting remarks are so much more plentiful ... and your laughter at her announcement just seemed to say a lot!
Bianca del Rio: Well I'm just exhausted by the whole scenario! I mean, listen... I use social media as a tool for myself, for work and for ridiculousness. I don't discuss anything serious online. For me, sometimes you just don't have to tweet: you just don't have to don't have to tweet that you think COVID is a hoax, and you don't have to tweet that you've got COVID. And if you do, you have to be prepared for what everyone else is going to say! That's how social media works! So, I was just blown away.
GIRL… 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂— Bianca Del Rio (@TheBiancaDelRio) July 17, 2021
I mean it was literally in the middle of the night—I believe it was—here in California when I saw it. The first thing that came to mind was laughing. I can't. I can't. I can't! I mean, people evolve and grow, you know, and I'm friends with Gia, one-on-one.
Through social media, I don't know what she's doing. And I truly don't know what she feels about me, but I just find it comical. I find it really comical. And it's a very difficult line to cross when you're a drag queen that was on a reality show and then you want to be an advocate for everything right. It's a challenging moment there, especially when you're doing everything wrong!
So it's a really tricky scenario, and all I could think of was laughter, because there was nothing I could come up with or put into print because I'm just tired by all of it. It just doesn't make any sense to me! And I hope she feels better, and I wasn't laughing at the fact that she got it! I'm laughing at the irony of a complete turnaround from "It's a hoax" to "Wear your mask!" To telling people what to do from 'This is not real!' I can't, just can't. But it did amuse me, it amused me to no end.
James: This new show was mostly developed during the COVID pandemic. Did that have any, any impact on the comedy?
Bianca del Rio: Oh my God! Totally! I mean, I think that you know, in the beginning, I was scheduled to start a tour in Australia in the spring. I was expected to go to Australia, New Zealand ... things were supposed to be announced. So I was already planning the tour but obviously this huge setback changed the game for me. And so you know with each month you're hoping, "Okay in the next month ... or in two more months ... or in three months, possibly? It could not go on that long, right?" That was the game that I was playing.
Everything obviously in other countries got pushed back further, whereas America ... AEG who I work with were the first to say "I think we're ready to rock and roll in America!" And I was like, "Wow, already? Okay this is great!" I told someone else that it felt like sex was happening all of a sudden—there was no foreplay, there was no blowjobs, no kissing... It was just like immediately anal! That's exactly what happened. BAM! The world is open: we're going on the road!
In that time, obviously, so much has happened: we have a new president, we had COVID, we've had insanity online. The world is a mess, so things did shift and it is influenced by it, although I'm not going to spend the whole show harping on COVID or corona or the craziness of it. It's all bits and parts of it, because so much has happened. And I really haven't had an outlet to discuss it, with the exception of social media, so I'm looking forward to getting back out and seeing who can relate to my madness, because I've had no one to talk to this whole time! And not because of corona! I mean no one's talking me because they hate me so that's the real challenging part. I realize I'm the disease!
James: How is this show gonna be different from some of your previous shows?
Bianca del Rio: Well, just because I think there's more hot topics now... I mean there's more things to discuss. As I said before, we were kind of in this this cocoon, and people were afraid to... I guess there's such extremes. There's people saying too much on social media, and people not saying enough on social media. I have a lot of opinions on things, and you always try to find a way to make it funny. But in the funny there's always truth, so I'm curious to see if people can go along with me on this journey, to laugh at myself and at scenarios...
You know, previously you would leave your house and go, "Keys, wallet, phone..." Now, "You're going keys, wallet, phone, mask, sanitizer, gloves..." I mean it's so much more s**t that you have to have. So I'm wondering how other people deal with that. Have you gotten into your car and had to leave immediately because you forgot your mask? Have you taken a dirty sock and made a mask out of it? All of those things that I'm sure have happened...
It's definitely gonna be a different world. And also, I think, because of the restrictions and the fact that we've all been separated, it might be good to actually be amongst people again. As a drag performer, in the last 10 years I would say, when I was in New York City, we kind of lost touch with people. Even people who would come to shows or bars where I was working would just sit there and scroll their phone and not be interested.
I think having this cultural setback or this time apart is definitely going to hopefully bring a new renaissance of people out who want to be active again, to socialize and schmooze. So I'm looking forward to that, mainly, and I think that's going to be the difference between previous shows and now. I think people are wanting, entertainment and escape, and I hope I can deliver!
James: So besides developing this new show what, what else have you been doing to keep yourself from going sane during COVID?
Bianca del Rio: Well, I would love to say that I was baking banana bread or learning a new language, but literally I've been doing cocaine and hookers the entire time I've been in Palm Springs. I mean, it's been wild, because I just had moved here.
I was in London, flew home, and within two weeks I found a house that I liked and I bought it. And in that time, the craziness was ... we immediately went into lockdown. So I have not even experienced a normal life. I've been in this house, and I had to order all my furniture online, which was insane, because I mean I had nothing! My previous apartments, it was all IKEA, so I thought, "Oh yeah, this is gonna be easy!" Not so much during a pandemic. So it was challenging on that level, just to kind of get adjusted.
So I was dealing with my house, and after the first two months of that madness, it was like, "Okay, now let's start gearing up for the show!" Then it was like pushed back, and then pushed back and pushed back... So yeah, I kind of had to make peace with it, but I did not come out learning a new language, and I don't have any good recipes. Basically I'm more bitter and nasty than I've ever been, and like most people, I've been drinking and gaining weight as much as possible, as everyone has... So I would love to say I've been at the gym and I feel much better but I don't!
James: But I guess all that drinking went to good use! You had the opportunity to help formulate a new vodka brand!
Bianca del Rio: Correct! Well, yeah, I think during this time we've all learned that we've got to do stuff to work, and I had not thought about a lot of offers and a lot of opportunities that were lurking. Whether it be a podcast or a vodka, I really never took the time to follow through with them, because I was always on the road. So that has been the bright side of all of this, to actually take some time to think, which can be really good for someone or really bad for someone like me. But in those moments, yes, those things were developed.
I mean, I didn't grow the potatoes and everything and make the vodka. It's kind of like, "Here, we're gonna give you some samples. Pick the one you like, we'll put your name on it!" And that's what happened!
James: Right! And as long as the samples came in gallons...
Bianca del Rio: You know, I'm not mad at it!
James: So, speaking of the podcast, who have been some of your favorite guests?
Bianca del Rio: Well, I would have to say ... anybody who said yes! I mean who would Want to talk to me? I mean I was quite excited and it was an interesting thing because it was working with Starburns Audio, who obviously deals with lots of podcasts and I didn't know how the podcast world worked. They had asked me for the past four years if I'd be interested in doing one, and just because of logistics ... I didn't think I could do it. But after the first six months of being home and getting settled, I thought, "Well, why not give it a chance, because it doesn't look like the world is going to get back to some form of normality anytime soon..." So I, I jumped on it.
I was able to reach out to people I knew, and I was quite shocked by the response, everybody from Vanessa Williams to Fortune Feimster. You know, I was honored that they even took the time to talk to me. Kelly Osborne was a hoot... I also was trying to stay away from talking particularly about Drag Race, because so many contestants have gone on and created podcasts, giving their opinions on the show. It's kind of oversaturated. I thought, "If I'm gonna talk to Vanessa Williams, I'm not gonna waste her time talking about fu%&ing Drag Race. She doesn't fu%&ing care, she's fu%&ing Vanessa Williams."
That was the nice thing ... to just get to talk to people about whatever they wanted to talk about it. However the conversation went is what happened, so I was quite honored that they all said yes. And so really anybody that agree, I appreciated immensely.
James: As as things are opening back up do you foresee being able to continue that or is that maybe like a one season sort of thing?
Bianca del Rio: Well at the moment I'm not able to. So I did my last one with Lady Bunny, so I'm on hold for the moment, only because I had some shows, and the US tour so it's pretty intense to scheduling. I'll be out for three months with the American version of the tour, and then I go back into a musical in the UK. So I'm tentatively booked until January of next year, so the schedule is pretty tight.
I'm hoping that we don't have any bumps in the road when it comes to the show. If by chance we do, obviously the podcast would come back sooner. It's just with the schedule, I don't know if I can make it happen, because in America, I'll be traveling by bus. It's very difficult to try to coordinate that from a moving vehicle with no Wi Fi with 15 [email protected]@ots on it!
James: So you're coming to Nashville on tour and you've been to Nashville a few times: what are some of your worst memories of Nashville?
Bianca del Rio: Nashville's always fun for me. The first few times I visited were when I was hit the hardest... I had been to Nashville, beginning with Drag Race, which was 2014, which is wild... And I was able to perform at Play, and many nights when I visited ended there at Play, which is a lovely establishment that is always very good to me. And you do Nashville and you do Louisville the same weekend, which was a blur.
Let me just say that they like to drink in Nashville, and I don't think it's a bad thing because I come from New Orleans. But I would say that it's an enjoyable moment. You just have to go, "Okay... I'm here... I'm going to drink... And this is what's going to happen!" I don't remember much of what's happened, but I always left with smile.
James: That's great!
Bianca del Rio: And there's always been good audiences in Nashville. I find Middle America or ... you know, people consider it the South but it's not the real south like New Orleans ... but I always say that they get me, you know, I guess cause that's where I come from. There's no translation required.
James: Well, one last question: what would it take to actually get you to do a lip sync?
Bianca del Rio: You know, this is my whole theory on this... Well you know it's very funny ... if you're referring to the situation that happened recently on Drag Race. I had called one of the producers because I was home, you know obviously thinking too much, and had the idea, "What if I'm a lip sync assassin but don't lip sync?" And he cackled and he's like, "Oh my God, that's so funny!" And I just thought they were gonna say, "You're ridiculous, this is not going to happen!" And they said, "Yes!" which was shocking!
So I literally had to take like 15 COVID tests and flew to Los Angeles to make this happen. And I tell you, when you watch it, I was literally there for that long, plus ten minutes. I was done in a half an hour at most, and that's getting into the venue, getting microphoned, going in and literally walking out. I mean, I didn't speak to Ru, I didn't speak to Michelle, outside of on the stage. I spoke with one producer that was bringing me back and forth, and that was literally it.
I just assumed they were going to cut it out, you know? I just kind of put it in the back of my head that I did this, because you know each season that comes out every other week, I don't keep up with it, so I didn't know where we were in the spectrum of it all, and then the producer called and said, "You do know that you're going on, that you'll be in the All Stars episode?" I was like, "Oh s**t! I forgot all about that." And I said, "You kept it in?" And then I was like, "Oh God? What did I say? What did I do?" So I was quite shocked that they said yes to doing it!
Honestly, I have nothing against lip syncing. I mean when I started my career, I did. I mean, I think everybody did. That's what we did in the bars, you know, illusions! Illusions, where everybody would portray someone. So I've done it before, I just don't enjoy it! So that's one of the reasons why I've never been a part of it. And I think that there are people that are brilliant at it. Someone like Trinity K Bonet is amazing at it.
That's you, honey. That's not me. I've always distanced myself from it, because I don't enjoy it at all, and there's people that do it much better. So I say let them do it. But now that the rules have changed for the show, which is interesting, because on my season, you only lip sync when you were bad, but now with All Stars it's a different format so that's what I thought was so funny. And I came out unscathed in my season, so the goal here is you don't try to rob a bank twice. I'm good. There's people that would do it better. I just thought it was funny that they agreed to it, and I was ecstatic at their response, especially Jan, who was like, "WHAT?!" That made me cackle, because I'm sure that was many people's response at home, going "What the hell is she doing back?" But that was the whole point!
James: Well, thank you so much for taking some time, I know that you've got a busy schedule, and I look forward to seeing you in Nashville!
Bianca del Rio: Thank you. I will see you soon. Let's just cross our fingers that nothing crazy happens in America! I'm kidding, I'm kidding ... more material, more material!
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