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All Hail the Queen!

Bianca Del Rio

Saturday, May 31 at 10pm. Club Marcella, 622 Main St. Ages 18+. clubmarcella.com

Sunday, June 1 at 1pm. Canalside. $5. buffalopridefestival.com

photo courtesy of Project Publicity

Royalty of the drag scene Bianca Del Rio graces Buffalo Pride Festival

Buffalo Pride Festival Mistress of Ceremonies and self-proclaimed ‘clown in a dress’ Bianca Del Rio holds the distinction of being one of the fiercest drag queens in reality TV history. A fixture of the NOLA/New York City scene for over 18 years, her charismatic charm and whip crack snark (think a prettier version of Don Rickles in a dress) propelled the insult queen extraordinaire to recent victory in the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A pro telling it just like it is, Artvoice was privileged to talk to her prior to her crowning moment. Don’t miss her read the house down at Club Marcella this Saturday, May 31 and be sure to catch her official mistress duties at the Pride Festival on Sunday, June 1 at Canalside.

AV: How did you first get into drag?

Bianca Del Rio: I’ve always worked with costumes, wigs and theater. I was working on a play that was a spoof on beauty pageants, and there was a small part at the end of the show that needed me. Some people from the local gay bar saw the show, thought I was funny, and asked me to come and work at the bar. It kind of snowballed from there.

AV: Did your experience with theater and costume design give you a leg up on RuPaul’s Drag Race?

BDR: Oh totally, totally. If you can’t on some level sing, dance, act, do comedy, or sew, it’s really not the place for you to be. You won’t last long. I’m always fascinated by people that get there and go, “I don’t know how to sew!” Well you better know how to hot glue like a motherfucker because you’ve got to make magic in a very short period of time.

AV: I’m always amazed during the “Snatch Game” episode [a parody of the Match Game where contestants showcase their best celebrity impersonations] when someone says “I don’t know how to impersonate anybody!” and it’s like “You’ve seen the show! This is season six, how do you not know that this challenge is going to happen?”

BDR: I’m one of those people who do research and try to figure things out. Especially when you’re doing something on this level. There’s lots of twists and turns on the show, and you never know what’s going to happen. I love not knowing. It can be kind of scary for some people, but for me I like not knowing.

AV: How would you describe Bianca Del Rio to someone who hasn’t seen her yet?

BDR: (laughs) Oh God... I would say that I’m a clown. Not everyone’s cup of tea. I could be considered raunchy, could be considered bitchy. But anybody that calls me a bitch, I would say I’m not really a bitch, I’m just smarter than you. If you have a sense of humor, I’m your cup of tea, and if you don’t then steer clear.

AV: What made you turn to the comedic side of drag?

BDR: I never really felt that was my passion, dancing and lipsyncing. My passion was comedy and it was something that was natural. I mean it was about as natural as you could get as a drag queen. It’s just the way my brain works, I say the things that people are already thinking.

AV: Do you get a lot of hecklers at your shows, and if so, how do you deal with them?

BDR: When you go on stage and do what I’m doing, you have to be aware of yourself, and know that everything you spit out can come right back at you. The key is just listening, you listen to people and they usually just hang themselves. I don’t fear hecklers, I just find if you’re going to do it, you better be as prepared as myself.

AV: You’ve been working for 18 years in the business, how did you end up on Drag Race?

BDR: I was fortunate enough to host some of the premier parties in New York. I saw the amazing amount of people that were interested in the show and thought, wow, this would be a great opportunity. Why not try out and see what happens? I was in this weird age group where I wasn’t 20 and I wasn’t 50, so I auditioned, and it just kind of happened.

AV: You’re a huge star and fan favorite on the show, what’s the best part of your new found fame?

BDR: It’s overwhelming number one—overwhelming in a good way. When I started in drag we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, all that madness. You don’t realize how much this reaches people. I’m appreciative and grateful that people like it, get it, and understand it. The majority of the people that I speak with on Twitter, or that show up at the show, are straight people who love the show. I think it’s amazing to reach all these people on this level, and have them realize that drag queens are human beings, and the show humanizes who we are.

AV: Do they separate the queens off camera to save the drama for the show?

BDR: You have to realize that the show is a reality show and only the heightened situations and moments are going to be shown. You’re filming long days and it’s going to be cut down to a 40 minute show without commercials. But we don’t know what each other said in confessionals so when I watch now, I’m kind of watching the show as everyone else is.

AV: It has to be interesting to see how it all goes down, who said what, and be totally oblivious to all of that.

BDR: It’s interesting now to watch it and go: “Oh! She said that?” “Oh! She felt that way.” We didn’t get to talk to one another, which is kind of good, because it’s a competition.

AV: During the untucked episode of “The Glitter Ball Challenge”, Adore Delano walked in and goes ”Ew what is that?” and you exclaimed “It’s a mystery drink!” I have to ask, what where they serving this season in the Untucked Lounge?

BDR: I’m not really sure, I didn’t drink! You have the option of having non-alcoholic or alcoholic and I chose not to have alcohol. I mean, I do drink, but I didn’t bother to drink when I was there. It varies, but I think that one was Coca-Cola.

AV: What’s in store for Bianca Del Rio next?

BDR: There’s lots! I’m writing a one person show. Also a friend and I have done some fundraising for a film called Hurricane Bianca. We were able to raise $35,000 prior to the show and now we’re going to start another campaign. We hope to accomplish that by next summer.

AV: You’re going to be in Buffalo at the end of the month. Have you ever been up here before?

BDR: I have not been to Buffalo, and I’m looking forward to it.

AV: Any last words for your fans?

BDR: I’m entirely grateful for all the people that have been supportive of this amazing journey. It’s been a glorious shining moment. All these people and the outpouring of kindness, it’s insane. Hopefully I can get to their city, and get to meet them, and take a photo, and schmooze with all these amazing people that got your back. So for that, I’m eternally grateful.

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