Comedic ‘Drag Race’ champ Bianca Del Rio returns to Dallas with her Not Today Satan Tour
SCOTT HUFFMAN | Contributing Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
For many — especially in the gay community — Halloween is a much-anticipated free pass to take a walk on the wild side, a safe harbor for experimenting with voluminous wigs, smoky-eye guyliner, ruby-red lipstick and size 12 stilettos. But for Bianca Del Rio (aka Louisiana native Roy Haylock), the pagan celebration is simply another day.
“As a clown, I’m always in costume,” says Del Rio, the champion of Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “People ask me, ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?’ I say, ‘A man! A man!’ Every day is Halloween for me. I understand people get excited about it, but I have to do it all the time — it’s not that interesting!”
Make no mistake, though: This Saturday, Del Rio will appear in full headdress and war paint as she brings her latest comedy show — the Not Today Satan Tour — to Dallas’ South Side Music Hall. But what she has in store for her audience is anybody’s guess.
Del Rio plans each of her performances with “a series of Post-It Notes of my hateful thoughts,” she quips. While few topics are off limits, she deliberately avoids current politics in her current standup. (“That’s too easy right now,” she says.) Instead, Del Rio will fill the evening with pet peeves, travel stories and, as one would expect from any insult comic, a fair share of playful barbs.
“It’s not for the fainthearted,” she teases. “I talk a lot of shit. It’s an hour-and-a-half of me bitching about things that I hate and things that don’t make sense to me. What’s interesting is that people often feel the same way I do. It just fascinates me.”
The upcoming stop is not Del Rio’s first visit to Dallas by any stretch. Last year, the drag queen spent 18 days in town (“it was hotter than fuck!”) completing principal photography on Hurricane Bianca, an independent film (produced by local boy Ash Christian) that was recently released digitally and on DVD. The drag-queen-turned-film-star describes the crowdfunded movie, written and directed by her friend Matt Kugelman, as a comedy that tackles a serious LGBT topic.
“In 29 states it’s legal to be fired for being gay,” Del Rio says. “It’s a story about a [gay] schoolteacher who gets fired. He returns as Bianca Del Rio [to get revenge], and nobody knows it’s me!” The film offered Haylock a chance to work in and out of drag with celebrated comedic actors such as Rachel Dratch, Alan Cumming and Margaret Cho. It also features a number of former Drag Race contestants including Alyssa Edwards, Willam Belli, Joslyn Fox and Shangela Laquifa Wadley. Even RuPaul makes a cameo in the film. So, are Del Rio and RuPaul BFFs?
“Oh, hell no!” Del Rio exclaims with a laugh. “She’s not even real. She’s a hologram. We don’t hang out and chat. Michelle Visage and I do quite often; she lives near me in Los Angeles. We go vintage clothes shopping whenever we are on the road together. But [honestly], RuPaul has been unreal — a really kind, generous person and supportive of everything that I do. I’m grateful.”
Despite having both a Drag Race title and a feature-length film under her belt, Del Rio considers time she spent visiting her idol — fellow insult comic Joan Rivers — her proudest accomplishment. Del Rio, after winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, was a guest on Rivers’ internet chat show In Bed with Joan. It was a dream come true. “She was beyond kind and lovely,” Del Rio says of the late legend. “We sat there cackling for over an hour. Just talking shit about everybody. She just kind of fed me the lines and let me roll with it. She was very, very gracious.” It was an amazing destination for someone whose first job in entertainment was designing costumes for the theater.
It was chance — an acting opportunity playing a character in drag — that led to her first club gig. The rest is history. Today, Del Rio is probably more surprised by her drag success than anyone else… well, with the exception of her family, perhaps.
“I’m still the nasty little hateful child that they had,” Del Rio says. “They are shocked that the world thinks this is funny. I’m the fourth out of five [children]. Everything I was told not to do as a child, I am doing now as an adult. It’s quite magical. They’re amazed.”
Not long ago, Del Rio imagined the shelf-life of her drag persona was nearing its natural end. However, the Drag Race title has refreshed her career opportunities. Rather than retiring her wigs and eyelashes, Del Rio now plans to go with the flow.
“I really thought I was going to quit everything at 40,” Del Rio says, now 41. “I had worked every dirty bar I could possibly work. I had done every gay Pride I could possibly do. At 38, I did Drag Race which changed everything for me. I can’t quit now!”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.