Bianca Del Rio on Her 'Drag Queen Revenge Comedy,' RuPaul's Emmy Win and That Genius 'All Stars' Twist
By John Boone
Photo: Getty Images
Ever wonder where drag queens conduct their business? Not the clubs and stages where they perform, but an office for the day-to-day minutiae of running their fempire? It's a squat, brick building in DTLA, where the bathroom has been retrofitted with a Lumia-esque vanity and the hallway table is decorated with a beautiful orchid next to a bright red dildo.
Down that hallway, Bianca Del Rio lounges on a white couch, donning a strawberry blonde wig with pinup curls. Her makeup -- heavy lashes, an exaggerated red lip and her signature painted-on beauty mark -- is evening, but she's changed from a bedazzled floral frock into an oversized jersey with "BDR" over her right breast. At least that's where it would be, if she hadn't taken her breasts off to unwind.
"I had to get in drag at, like, 7 this morning and then it's just been a whirlwind," the self-proclaimed "clown in a gown" -- Roy Haylock, when he's out of that gown -- explains when we sit down just before 4 p.m., though she shrugs it off as "a breeze" compared to the long days spent tucked on RuPaul's Drag Race (she won the sixth season) and shooting her drag queen revenge comedy, Hurricane Bianca, which hits VOD on Sept. 23. She spilled the T in a chat with ET.
ET: Hurricane Bianca is big and funny and ridiculous, but at its core, it's about a man who is fired from his job for being gay. And I love that it starts with "A long, long time ago," but this is still a timely movie, in terms of LGBT rights and trans issues.
Bianca Del Rio: When I was approached with the idea by my genius friend Matt Kugelman, who wrote and directed it -- everything thinks it's my movie, but it's really his baby -- I was unaware that in  states it's legal to be fired for being gay. Which is kind of insane to think about. Here I am as a gay man, and a majority of my gay friends, we're all talking about equality for marriage, and all of that's great -- ya know, I believe that everybody deserves to be married. Everybody deserves to love who they want to love. But, you can live your life without being married. You can't live your life without a job. And you think about the fact that just because of your sexual orientation, it could be over. Which is insane to me.
The way [Matt] chose to tell it, it deals with a serious topic in a comedic way. But it's not too preachy. I feel that, a lot of times, LGBT films have a tendency to be either completely campy and ridiculous or too serious that you can't get through it without sobbing or wanting to commit suicide. So, the in-between is where we wanted to go, where it deals with hot topics, but in a fun way.
You get to go head-to-head with Rachel Dratch--
Who is the best! The funniest, kindest, most generous, wonderful lady. I mean, how lucky were we to have that? I mean, the best.
And you have her playing a bigoted homophobe. How much fun was that?
Well, the outtakes are quite funny. All of that will be available on DVD or however they sell it now! I go back to VHS. As soon as we found out she was on board, it was great, but the director didn't necessarily write it for her. He had this character named Debbie, and what was so funny was we were on set and I call her Debbie and she's like, "Deb or Deborah. Never Debbie." And then it clicked. I'm like, "Wait, Debbie Downer!" She was Debbie Downer on Saturday Night Live! I was like, "Oh, f**k! It came full circle!" And she's like, "Yeah, I figured it out." She was a great sport and truly one of the funniest, funniest people.
Willam and Shangela and Alyssa Edwards also have roles in the film. How did you choose who to include from the Drag Race rolodex?
That was all Matt Kugelman. I didn't want to get involved, because then everybody is like, [Whiny voice] "Well, why didn't you cast me?" And I love so many of them dearly, but it was his choice. He had an idea of what he wanted, visually. Also, Willam and Shangela both have acting experience, and he thought they would be right to represent the three different types of gays that we know. Alyssa was all his doing. I knew her, and I think she's hysterical. It worked out well, because she lives in Dallas. So, it all just happened fluid-like.
Did you still get some of that, "Why wasn't I cast?" from the other queens?
Oh, always! You get that all the time. But the best thing I can say is, it's not my movie. Because it's not! I'm in it, but it's not my movie. I was lucky I was cast! It could have been one of those Sunset Boulevard moments where I'm Patti LuPone. I started with it and then Glenn Close gets it! But who knows? Maybe there will be a sequel and then I can add more.
RuPaul has a cameo, too. A lot of times, with reality show competitions like this, people wonder how involved in the contestants' careers the host actually is after the show. How supportive and involved is Ru when you leave the show?
I think the support began when I won. Aside from it just being a reality show, to go on and get exposure on television and all that is quite amazing within itself, but it's also such a huge platform. What I've been able to do since the show -- I'm two and a half years out of winning -- just the amount of work and the amount of exposure and the amount of opportunities that have come my way have been unreal. And it's not that Ru and I talk every day, but anything -- anything -- that I've asked for, as far as "Can you do a cameo in the movie?" Immediately, she said yes. She recorded an intro for my new show. Immediately said yes.
She's beyond kind and beyond gracious and I think that's amazing. I don't need someone to be my best friend and we don't kiki and go to lunch every day, but I always get a message. I always get flowers. And how great is it she just won an Emmy? I mean, Ru won an Emmy! It's amazing that that's happening.
How did you react when you found out he won?
Well, I thought it was great! I thought the nomination was wonderful -- you know, you're supposed to say that. But you think about it, you don't want to sound like a twat, but you're like, that's a great deal. To be nominated is pretty amazing!
Sometimes it really is an honor just to be nominated.
I mean, in theory it is. You say that...but you want to win. What I was grateful to see was, here's someone who has worked his entire life in his career and nobody's done it better on this level. The amount of exposure and opportunity he's been given has been great, and the fact that he's sharing it with all of us is unreal. Also, it says a lot about the show. I know how many people are watching the show. I get to travel the world, from Australia to Brazil to Idaho, and see the amount of people that come out to even see my tired ass! I'm going, "People watch!" And people love it! It's not just a gay show. To get that recognition is astounding. It says a lot about television, and it says a lot about how willing they are to be accepting of our lifestyles.
What do you think RuPaul's Emmy win means for the drag community? Has drag officially gone mainstream?
I think Ru is gonna ask for more money! [Laughs] I think Ru's going to be one rich b*tch -- richer b*tch. Well, I mean, it's two-sided. I wouldn't say that we were already accepted. But I've seen, when I go do a show, that maybe 60 percent of the audience is straight! Because they've seen you on television and they saw that, yes, I'm a monster in drag, but they see this human side of you. It's kind of humanized drag queens in general. It's made it easier to go into their homes, with a television show, so it's made us a little more accepted.
But I think to be accepted by the industry is a huge deal, because you're dealing with ego and money, which is all of what Hollywood is! To see that that many people thought that he deserved that award, I think that's a step in the right direction. In theater and in movies and in film and in Hollywood, I mean, how many gays work there? Everybody's gay! Do a movie without a gay person! So, it's kind of nice to get that recognition from your peers. I think that's a step in the right direction.
Are you watching this season of All Stars?
I just started. I've been DVRing, because I don't like to watch them one by one. Those teasers at the end make me f**king crazy. But of course, with social media everybody knows what's going on. Spoiler alert! It's interesting for me this time, because I know all of them. Normally, there are two or three surprise people that I've never met, so it's kind of weird to see everybody in that moment now.
Give me your rundown of the roster, then. Who are you rooting for? Who are you surprised is there? Who are you surprised wasn't there?
There's no rules with anything, so there's no rules as to who's to come or rules as to, "Oh, she deserves a second chance!” I think what's great is that anybody who gets an opportunity to go back can go and show their s**t, because a lot of these girls -- I want to say not necessarily the show treated them, ya know, poorly, but it didn't work out for them.
Obviously, everybody wants to win, so any chance you have to go back, bring ya A-game. And I like the bitches that aren't playing. That Alyssa Edwards, she ain't playing this time around. And it's great to see Alaska have a second chance. Detox is one of my favorites. She's such a great queen.
What do you think about this season's big twist, that the queens eliminate each other?
I think that's genius! I mean, c'mon! You know that RuPaul didn't want any blood on her hands at alllll. Because that social media will go crazy. I think that's the smartest thing that they've ever done.
Do you think you would have any trouble doing it?
I don't know if I could go back. It's like going back to high school. I left looking like a saint, so to go back would be kind of difficult for me. And of course, it's also a television show, so if you get crazy, that's perfect television. You have to control yourself. I was lucky enough to control myself the first time. I can't imagine a second time. I mean, I'm not afraid of people, if that's what you mean. I'm not afraid of a bitch. I'll send a bitch home. But to mentally go back to that place, I don't know if I could do that.
Your Judge Judy is so iconic. If you did go back and had to do the Snatch Game again, who would you do it as?
Oh, that's a compliment! Well, the one I originally wanted to do was Dora the Explorer -- I know, it's bad. But I couldn't do it, because of copyright issues or licensing, whatever it is! There are a lot of characters you can't do. And of course everybody who sits at home is like, "She should have done this! She should have done that!" I've got to give credit to Alaska, because I love Mae West and I have to say that was a genius one to pull this time around. I don't think I could top that.
Finally, how many times a week are you asked to say, "Not today, Satan"?
You wouldn't believe. I get, "Not today, Satan." "You need help packing?" When I do meet and greets, I get packs of bologna. I'm sitting next to Courtney Act, who is getting flowers and love letters and people are bringing me f**king bologna. "Oh, thank you. Warm bologna I have to travel with." But it's funny to me, because it's something that I've always said and I didn't realize I even said it and then once it goes into the world, it just creates a life of its own.
In that case, can I be the millionth and first person and request a "Not today, Satan" to my face?
Well, that's my show! You've got to come see it. I'm doing 27 cities in the U.S., for tickets and dates you go to TheBiancaDelRio.com. My show is called Not Today Satan, so there are lots of stories that lead up to it and the very last line in the show is "Not today, Satan." So, you'll appreciate it then. I've got to save something for you!