Bianca Del Rio says drag scene is filled with ‘a lot of delusion and a lack of talent’

Bianca Del Rio performs at 'Voss Events presents Drive 'N Drag'

Bianca Del Rio has done it all. But she’s nowhere near finished yet.

Since winning season six of Drag Race, she’s thrown herself into comedy and performance. We’ve seen her dazzle crowds in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, star in her own movie (2016’s Hurricane Bianca) and now she’s preparing to tour her new stand-up show around the world.

Bianca’s razor-sharp wit and stage presence are what helped her become successful long before Drag Race, but these traits are still the driving force behind her career 8 years later.

In 2019, New York Magazine ranked her as America’s most powerful drag queen – and it’s easy to see why.

PinkNews caught up with the queen herself to talk about how drag is changing, Instagram queens, her similarities to Queen Elizabeth and why she’d (probably) never be a judge on Drag Race.

PinkNews: Hi Bianca! Where in the world are you right now?

Bianca Di Rio: I’m currently in Palm Springs, California. I actually just finished Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in Los Angeles on Sunday, so I’m home now, packing and regrouping before I head out on the road again!

You’ve been in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on stage and you made a cameo in the movie too, why are you drawn to it as a story?

I think I’m the first gay man to play the role. Plus, I’m a real drag queen who’s playing it! They’ve had straight men and other actors in the role in the past, so I’m sure I have a different take on it. And it probably means something a little different to an individual who’s actually been a drag queen for many years too.

This is the third time that I’ve done the show over the past few years. Of course, I love the film too.

Anytime a gay or queer film that’s in a positive light gets made, anytime that we have exposure, I think it’s amazing. It’s a fun story that hasn’t really been told.

You’re bringing Unsanitized, your stand-up show, to London in May. What do you love the most about being in London?

Being in London is amazing because it reminds me a lot of New York. I’m always fascinated by Queen Elizabeth, because she’s an old queen who wears the same dress and every colour, which basically describes me. So in my own mind, I think I’m Queen Elizabeth.

I do enjoy the history too, because we don’t really have anything that old in America – besides Lady Bunny!

So it’s kind of nice to be in a place that’s so cultured and the people are great. Of all the places I get to travel, they actually understand me, so it’s a win-win.

Bianca Del Rio has announced the UK leg of her Unsanitized Tour.

Bianca Del Rio has announced the UK leg of her Unsanitized Tour. (Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images)

You are one of America’s most well-known drag queens. Would you be a judge on Drag Race or host an international version of the show?

You’re very optimistic about it: they ain’t gonna let no bitch get up in there! Let’s just be real. Listen, she’s [RuPaul] doing 62,000 franchises, she ain’t worried about us! They don’t want to use us and that’s fine.

You know, look, I would never say no. But I have no idea. Drag is kind of everywhere right now, so if I couldn’t contribute to it in a new and exciting way, I have no desire to do it. I’m happy doing what I’m doing.

Drag is so exposed and it’s great that it’s out there, but in five years, I have no idea where it’s gonna be. I don’t know where I’m going to be. So I wouldn’t say no, but with this particular franchise [Drag Race], I highly doubt that will happen.

Drag is constantly changing and even mainstream platforms like Drag Race are moving with the times. What is the biggest shift you’ve seen recently in drag?

I’ve done shows where there have been women, straight men and trans performers doing drag. None of this is new to me, so it’s just the exposure of it that has increased.

I think one of the biggest changes is the level of delusion. There’s just such a large amount of delusion and there’s no substance, you know? I think the lack of talent is something that’s quite relevant and kind of annoying.

Bianca del Rio in AJ and the Queen. (Beth Dubber/Netflix)

You know, you might look great in an Instagram photo, but give me something else! Not to say that looking good and Instagram photo is not work, it obviously is, but having a platform is about doing something entertaining.

Back in the day, we’d work in gay bars and cabaret spaces, and you had to have an act, you had to do something.

So now I think everybody wants to go on Drag Race and assumes that they’re going to have fame and they’re going to travel the world, that might happen, but there’s a huge amount of oversaturation.

There are so many different Drag Race shows and drag is a little bit overexposed, so the opportunities don’t always exist for everyone.

Did you know that fame would await you after the show? Did you think you’d still be working off the back of it now?

Honestly, at that point, I was 38 years old, so the difference was I knew what I wanted to do: not music videos or albums, which was not that route that everybody else was taking.

I knew I wanted to tour and I wanted to do comedy. So that’s been my game and that’s where I’ve stayed. I’ve stayed true to what I do and I had my own plan. I’m not here to be liked by everyone and the people that do like me will get it. So I didn’t have that delusion of wanting to be loved by everyone because it just doesn’t happen.

I’m just happy to be working because I didn’t really put much thought into the idea of where I was going to end up. I just keep going.

Why do you think you’re so self-aware?

Because I’m old!

That can’t be the only reason…

Well, I’m not afraid of any of the madness and I’m not afraid of speaking my mind. I am who I am, I do what I do and either somebody likes it, or somebody doesn’t!

I can’t get wrapped up in the idea of being accepted by everyone and especially people when they say “our community!” – gay people can be the worst to our own group. So it can be challenging, but I just don’t live in that bubble.

I’m aware that I’m a 46-year-old man in a wig. I’m not curing cancer. I’m here to make jokes and travel and have a good time.

What’s next for Bianca Del Rio?

Well, Unsanitized will take me into September and it’ll be global. We have another Hurricane Bianca in the works, which is going to happen.

And there’s another show that I can’t discuss at the moment it’s in the works, but I’ll be on the road from now until September with Unsanitized.