Arts & Culture » Stage

Bianca Del Rio on Small Towns and Success



Now in its ninth season, reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race has opened doors for the more than 100 contestants who have sewn-up, made-up, tucked-up and acted-up in a quest to become "America's next drag superstar." Maybe more importantly, though, the show pulled back a curtain on drag culture, allowing audiences who may never have otherwise see, that under the layers of gorgeous hair and clothing—and, in the case of Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock), eyelashes—they are people and they are talented performers.

Like all the queens who have shante-d and sashayed across the Drag Race stage, though, Del Rio is anything but simple. When the 42-year-old won Season Six in 2014, she was a renowned costume designer and performer, known for her caustic comedy. After winning, though, her career went into overdrive.

"For the past year, I've been traveling with my solo show," Del Rio said, calling from Miami in late May. "I'm wrapping that up and then doing another tour with a group of gals from Drag Race. Then I start my new tour, which will take me through the new year." It will also bring her and her Not Today, Satan: A Drag Comedy Experience show to the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, July 7. It will be the first time she has performed in Boise, as well as other smaller markets, something she leaves up to her managers and "the market data and analysis." Del Rio only cares about one thing.

"It's always a business decision, so I never know where I'm going to be ... I'm kind of clueless," Del Rio said. "I just need people there. That's all I need. They don't even need to be alive," she said, laughing. "Put a bunch of dead people in the back of the room if you want. I'm just ready to get out there."

For a drag queen—especially one who is an absolute master of insult comedy—small-town America may not always be the most welcoming. Asked if she has any apprehension about performing in unfamiliar locales, Del Rio's answer was an immediate "No."

"Oh, God no," she added emphatically. "I think those are usually the best towns because they're hungry to see you. I lived in New York for years, so when I go there, they're like, 'Oh. She's back again.' It's not very exciting to them. That's been the magic of actually getting to see the world. The most obscure places are the places I love."

Del Rio thanks Drag Race for the opportunities she has been afforded since winning, but her incredible talent is what keeps doors opening—along with her work ethic. Along with the endless touring, the sequel to her 2016 film, Hurricane Bianca, is already written and filming is planned for later this year. For Del Rio, there is no end in sight.

"The biggest trick [to being successful] is to never think you're successful," she said. "For me, the sign of success is you're still working. You have to work at it each time you're out there and for me, that's the best part. As far as sitting back and enjoying it? No. I don't think of things in that way. I think that has done too much damage to too many people. I mean, look at Mariah Carey!"

Add a comment

Note: Comments are limited to 200 words.