Being a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race can give a monumental boost to a drag queen’s career; winning the show puts them on another level. With the most recent season of Drag Race finally wrapped up, season six winner Bianca Del Rio is quickly learning just how in-demand she is now. Less than a month after winning the show, she’ll be making her first Atlanta appearance in over a decade at Jungle on June 17. I caught up with Bianca before her appearance later this month to talk about her time on Drag Race, her relationship with Atlanta’s Trinity K. Bonet, and what Atlanta audiences can expect when they see her live.
David Atlanta: First, congratulations! How does it feel knowing that you’ve won?
Bianca Del Rio: Well, it really hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s kind of surreal. The whole process of the show has been almost a year now, because we filmed it last June. When I get the money, I think it’ll shift. But the past few weeks have been surreal, and it’s been a week since it’s all kind of happened. It’s a whirlwind. It’s crazy. But it’s good.
DA: Your run on Drag Race was pretty tremendous. You’re one of the few contestants in the show’s history to never hit the bottom two, and of course you won the show itself. Aside from winning, what are you most proud of from your run on the show?
BDR: Well, I always tell people, I’m not a bottom in real life, so why would I bottom on the show? So that’s good. (Laughs) I think that, looking back on it, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most was becoming friends with Trinity. One of my favorite things. I didn’t expect it, and in retrospect, I can watch and say that’s a good thing, because we didn’t get along in the beginning, and it all shifted in the process, and in the end, she became one of my favorite people.
DA: I know for us in Atlanta, we take a lot of pride in Trinity’s run on the show, so it’s great knowing that the two of you get along so well now.
BDR: Oh my God, she’s amazing! I mean, she’s a brilliant performer, and I was so grateful when I was looking back and watching the show, I was like, “Thank God I didn’t have to lip-sync against that bitch.” She is a fierce performer. I encourage anybody – if she’s performing in your town, go and see that bitch. She can teach you something, trust me.
DA: For you, did what made it to air on Drag Race reflect your experience, or was there anything you were surprised to see on-air?
BDR: Not really. I mean, I knew going into it that, you know, we had 12-14 hour days, and all of it would be edited down to 40 minutes. I signed up for it, so it was part of the deal. I mean, of course…I think it would be very hypocritical of me to sit back and go, “Oh, I didn’t like this” or “I didn’t like that.” Look, I signed up for it, and I knew that if you cried, they were gonna use it. If you were a mess, they were gonna use it. If you yelled and screamed, they were gonna use it. I mean, it’s reality TV. So I wasn’t really surprised by any of it. I just knew that, hey, it came with the territory.
But you’ve gotta remember, for all of us, we didn’t know what each other was saying or how deep we were all getting in the water, because we were unsure of what each person was discussing in their confessionals or in the moment. It wasn’t until we watched it that we realized that Darienne was fighting with Ben. I didn’t know that when I was there. Or how serious situations were amongst other people. You’re not privy to all this information. You don’t know the seriousness of all of it until you watch it, and then it’s like, “Oh, shit! This was happening?” So for me, that was kind of shocking.
DA: You’ve worked with a number of drag queens from Atlanta, from Trinity to RuPaul and Lady Bunny. What do you think of our city’s drag queens?
BDR: Well, I never worked with Ru until the show. But Bunny, I knew. She’s hilarious, and insanely crazy. But what I think is great – I from New Orleans, and Southern queens are different, I find. Southern queens get it. Southern queens understand what it’s like to put on a show. And the great thing about making the show is that we all do something different, and we all deliver. And the great thing about people like Trinity and Bunny, and obviously Ru is successful at what she’s doing, is in the moment. We all have our niche – that thing that we like that we do well. Together, it creates this awesome balance.
I usually host the show, and people perform, and it works for me. I sit back and applaud anybody who can lip-sync the house down, like Trinity, or geniuses like Bunny who have incredibly, insanely interesting wit in all areas of comedy. I think all of it’s good. The minute you have diversity in a cast, it makes for a good show. Because some people come to a show, and they hate me, and they love them, that’s the balance of it. We’re not giving them all one note for the entire night.
DA: You’re performing at Jungle on June 17. What can Atlantans expect when they see you live?
BDR: Well, I don’t have a new album. I don’t have a song to sell. I’m here to work – I’m here for comedy. So if you have a sense of humor, definitely come check me out. But you know, no holds barred. I love being live with people, and I’ve been traveling recently, and what I’ve been doing is a lip-sync number, which I haven’t done in years, and I’ve also been doing some standup. So expect to see some standup, funny audience interaction – no holds barred. I love – I love a moment, and I love conflict. So we’ll see what happens.
DA: Now that you’ve won Drag Race, what’s next?
BDR: Oh my God. Well, there’s two things I’ve been working on. One of them’s a one-woman drag show that I’m writing for myself, that I want to do in different cabaret bars and theaters throughout the country. And the other thing is a film a friend of mine and I are working on. It’s called Hurricane Bianca, and – most people don’t know that in 29 states, it’s still legal to be fired for being gay. The movie that we’re doing is a comedy, obviously, based on this guy who’s a schoolteacher, who gets fired and decides to get revenge on the town by returning as Bianca Del Rio in drag as a substitute teacher. We’ve been talking about it for the past two years, and I was doing some fundraising for it prior to Drag Race, and then I left to do the show, so I couldn’t talk about it for a minute. But now that I’m done with the show, I have something to shoot over the summer.
Bianca Del Rio appears at Jungle on June 17 as part of a special Fantasy Girls night, hosted by Phoenix and featuring Mariah Paris Balenciaga, Alissah Brooks, Destiny Brooks, Evah Destruction and Raquell Lord. Reserved seating for the event has sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be available at the door. The show is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. For more information, visit jungleatl.com.