If you’ve never heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you’ve been living under a rock.
Roy Haylock, also known as Bianca Del Rio, is the comedian and drag queen who not only won the sixth season of Drag Race, but has starred in several feature films (Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate just came out), television series, and is now embarking on a third solo comedy tour that’s going all over the world. In addition to all of that, Bianca Del Rio also has a new advice book, Blame It On Bianca Del Rio: The Expert On Nothing, With An Opinion On Everything.
The book is divided into different categories, so readers will get to read the insane questions she gets asked and responds to with her usual take-no-prisoners comedy, with subjects ranging from personal grooming, relationships, sex, and health, just to name a few. Hilarious, witty, and unfiltered, with wicked timing and some fantastic punchlines, this book is everything you would expect it to be, and everything you didn’t.
BookTrib was lucky to chat with the now debut author on the phone, where we talked about the new book, what it’s like to have strangers ask you bizarre questions on the internet, comedy tours, and how this journey all kicked off.
BookTrib: You were born and grew up in Louisiana, before moving to New York. Now you’re touring worldwide doing comedy shows, while you also have a movie coming out. How did this all start for you?
Bianca Del Rio: Well, comedy has always been a huge part of my career, and I’ve been doing drag for 20 years now, and basically started in bar where there’s four people on a Monday night at midnight. I think comedy starts there, because that’s when you realize, “What is going on?” and it’s just kind of evolved to what it is now. A huge credit goes to RuPaul’s Drag Race, which opened a lot of doors for me, but I think I was also faced with, you know, my life, and opportunity, and it all just kind of snapped into something else.
I did Drag Race when I was 37, and it just sort of took off on a global level after that, which has been kind of great for me, because I’ve always been the kind of person where it doesn’t matter how much money I have, it’s how much I’m working. So, it’s definitely opened a lot of doors, and without television – it’s a pretty powerful thing, television – life would be a lot different. I don’t think I’d be doing drag for as long as I have been. I’ve had a good time, but after 22 years, something’s got to shift in order to keep going.
BookTrib: I actually heard that you were thinking about quitting drag a few years ago, but then you decided not to. What changed your mind?
BDR: It was just a thing where I thought that by the time I got to 40, I’d already had a good run, and, you know, “That’s enough.” I think that there’s an expiration date on everything, so I thought I’d go back to my real life, and my real passions, as opposed to drag. But then this amazing thing happened right in the gist of it, when I was 37, 38. So I couldn’t not run with the opportunity. It’s the same thing I’ve always done, just on a larger scale.
BookTrib: How did you first get involved with doing drag?
BDR: It was through theater, it wasn’t a conscious choice. I don’t feel I’m a girl, I don’t feel that I was trying to enhance my inner clown. For me, it was just through theater, and I’m a yes person: I say yes to anything, I said yes to this interview! I was doing theater and costumes and wigs and makeup for several productions, and they said, “Here’s a role. Would you be interested in doing it?” and it just happened to be in drag. I kind of had all the makings to be a drag queen: I could sew, and do hair and makeup, so I just kind of evolved. And it was an escape.
BookTrib: Your book is filled with questions that people have asked you, and it has some of the most hilarious advice I’ve ever read. How did the idea for the book come about?
BDR: Well, when I was approached to do a book, I didn’t want to write a book about myself, cause I thought that would be a bit too egotistical, and no one cares about your story. I mean, my aesthetic is not around sympathy. There are some drag queens that feel the need to spill their guts about themselves, but I’m a firm believer that no one cares! I mean, I get asked the most insane questions thanks to social media; you post a photo and people ask “What lipstick are you wearing?”, “What eyeliner are you wearing?”, “Why were you born?” All of this stuff. And I think that for a lot of people, if you’re seeking advice from me, then something is really wrong with you. But I just thought it’d be a great way to address people, and if that swollen walrus Dr. Phil can give advice, then so can I. He’s not a doctor, and I’m not a woman, so who cares?
BookTrib: In the book, one of the questions you get asked is “I’m sure you get this asked by so many people, but how do I tell my dad that I’m gay, but he’s homophobic?”
BDR: Oh, you’re only witnessing one or two of those in the book! I get thousands of the same stuff. I mean, everything from “What does RuPaul smell like?” And I’m just like “Oh god, what a question!” So you just think of the most ridiculous things to respond with. And, I mean, first of all, Ru would get a kick out of it. But second of all, it’s like, “What kind of a stupid question is that? I don’t know what she smells like. I’ve never met her! I’ve never been in the same room as her!” People are ridiculous.
It always fascinates me how people’s brains work, but also like, “Really? You’re really asking this question?” And people ask me stuff on Twitter, Instagram, on my Facebook, my fan page, and it’s just so interesting the amount of stuff that people come up with – and people think I’m a freak!
BookTrib: The book is broken down into different sections, like Manners and Style, Sex, and Friendship. Is there one section that you feel you’re most qualified to give advice on?
BDR: I think part of the brilliance of the book is that I have no qualifications whatsoever. I mean, I’m the expert on nothing, with the opinion on everything. We live in a world now where everyone is an expert, and through social media, everyone has something to say, whether it be negative or positive, or trying to school you on what you should be. I thought all of this was fun to write, and when I was working with the editor I would write the most ridiculous thing and then I was amazed by the fact that they were like “Okay, that’s great!”
BookTrib: You’re doing this worldwide comedy tour, and each show that you do is completely different and new. How do you keep up with it all, and keep coming up with new material?
BDR: I think there’s humor in everything! I think being a drag queen, the goal is first of all not to be completely outrageous, but I think people have this idea in their minds that my life is a little more glamorous than it is. But even when I’m in sequins and 20 pounds of makeup, I feel the need to point out that my life is not that different than anyone else’s. And to me, funny is funny. So it doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re doing or what it’s about or what length you go to make a joke, funny is funny. And there’s a lot of humor in my life and in moments, and I that’s something that I can definitely share with people. So there’s always something. I’m a note taker as well, so constantly throughout the day if something hateful comes to mind, I jot it down, and that creates a story, or a joke, or a moment.
BookTrib: Like your comedy tours, this book is so unfiltered. Was there anything that you wrote down, but when the editors and publishers got hold of it they just took out completely?
BDR: Oh my god, yes, there was so much stuff! There was so much they were like, “we’re getting worried.” Being a performer, I know that there are things that you can say on stage with certain inflection or the way that you deliver it, that you can’t get away with in print, because it may not necessarily translate to an audience. So, that was a new thing for me, that this is something written down, and luckily with this book I was able to do an audiobook as well, so if by chance a joke lands flat when you’re reading it, you have the opportunity to hear it – hear my soft, cooling, menthol vocal styling!
Actually, when I was doing the audiobook for this, I went into a studio and there were two older gentlemen who were very, very sweet, but I don’t think that they were prepared for the information that I was about to unload on them. They were quite lovely, and actually in the same studio the week before, someone came in and read “The Shape of Water.” So, this definitely shook them up! But they were very sweet, and one of the guys was like “I’ll tell you, I’ve never heard anything like this in my life! God damn it, I was laughing with my wife all night long!” So, I really think it’s a book for all ages!
I actually didn’t realize how insane some of the things that I was saying sounded until I voiced it out loud. So you run the risk, and this is my first book. But I think it’s important to let everyone know that everything to me is a joke, not to mention that I’m a joke. I’m a man in a wig making a living. This is a joke. I mean, just take a look at the Administration for Christ’s sake. Everything is a joke.
BookTrib: Despite that, you’ve ended up becoming this role model of sorts for the LGBTQ community. Is that a role that you feel obligated to fill or that you need to change to fit into?
BDR: Well, it’s a daunting task to be a role model, and I’m a firm believer that, you know, I’m just going to be living my life, and so there’s no responsibility tied to that. There’s people like RuPaul who you would consider a role model, and that’s a different thing. But I don’t fall into that category, and anyone who thinks that I’m a role model is an idiot! I don’t want that pressure; I’m not the one who says “Everybody say “love!” I’m the one that says, “Everybody say “hate!” That’s my approach.
I think it’s obviously great if people like you, and look to you and say, “Hey, that’s fun, and I enjoy it,” but for me, I look at it more as that I’m an entertainer. You aren’t going to agree with everything, you’re not going to like everything, and I’m cool with that. Because no matter what you say to me, or what you think, or if you hate me, you’re going to die someday, and that makes me feel a lot better! I don’t like the pressure of being a role model. I mean, if I’m your role model, please, take a moment and think through that, because that’s sad.
BookTrib: You’ve now written a book, you’re in the middle of a worldwide comedy tour, you’ve done television and movies, and each time you perform, you do so with this amazing sense of confidence. Is that something that’s just innate or was that something you had to learn?
BDR: I think it really comes down to alcohol! I mean, have you not been out with your girls, and a video surfaces the next day and you go, “What the hell was I doing?” That’s kind of been my entire life. It’s never a conscious choice, but I also think that with my brand of comedy in particular, it’s usually what everyone else is already thinking. So I don’t feel the responsibility to be nice, and I don’t feel the responsibility to filter what I say.
A joke is a joke, so for me, it’s just explaining the obvious to people and we all chuckle. I want to laugh, and I want the audience to laugh as well. And there’s no hidden agenda, no super positive message to love yourself. Like, go get a hooker and pay her; she’ll love you! That’s my life. I just don’t take things that seriously. It’s the fuel of the audience, so when I’m out there and I’m laughing, then they’re going to laugh. I think that’s basically where the confidence comes from. I mean, I don’t sit backstage and go “Okay, now I have to get into character!” No, it’s just me.
Be sure to check out BookTrib’s Giveaways this week, where we’re giving out three copies of Blame It On Bianca Del Rio!
Blame It On Bianca Del Rio: The Expert On Nothing With An Opinion On Everything is now available for purchase. Hurricane Bianca and Hurricane Bianca 2: From Russia With Hate are now available to watch.
For more information, comedy tour dates, tickets and more, please visit thebiancadelrio.com
ABOUT BIANCA DEL RIO
Bianca Del Rio is a drag queen and comedian currently headlining her third global solo comedy tour which will hit 6 of the 7 continents. (Antarctica is a little too cold for drag – she’d have icicles hanging from her eyelashes). A self-professed “clown in a gown”, Bianca is quick to point out that she is the biggest joke of all. Bianca’s brand continues to expand with the recently launched The Bianca Remover which is currently Amazon’s top selling makeup remover. Among her many accomplishments, Bianca is the winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she starred in the feature film Hurricane Bianca (2016), the Vimeo original comedy special Rolodex of Hate, and Hurricane Bianca 2: From Russia With Hate.