Bianca Del Rio (Rene Koala)

Bianca Del Rio is in Stockholm on her Its Jester Joke comedy tour, still subject to the fraught human realities of traveling despite her top-tier queen status. And packing dont remind her. As a drag queen, you travel with so much shit,says Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock).

Famous for her tart candor, the Louisiana-born stand-up comedians success is a result of saying what she thinks and not caring what you think. And you, of course, already know this if you witnessed the self-proclaimed Clown in a Gownreign over the other crown-pining contestants during season six of RuPauls Drag Race in 2014. 

Five years later, Del Rio, who has written a book, Blame It on Bianca Del Rio, and starred in her own film, Hurricane Bianca, is still coming out on top. In June, New York magazine named Del Rio one of the top 100 Most Powerful Drag Queens in America. Just before bringing her worldwide comedy tour stateside, Del Rio called to defend bachelorettes who celebrate at gay clubs, predict an inevitable Lizzo backlash and roast Drag Race queens who use emotional manipulation to get ahead in the competition. 

What is the one thing you absolutely cannot leave home without?

Im a drag queen there are so many elements. I definitely need makeup. But a razor, I would assume. The problem is, with drag you have to travel with so much stuff. You have to bring size 12 shoes, extra eyelashes; you cant really find that stuff just anywhere. Definitely not in Stockholm. So I have to pack a lot of stuff. A lot more than I usually would like to admit.

How many suitcases do you travel with?

Four suitcases. Three of those are drag, one of them is what I call my boy bag.Its just to have options. The airport struggle the security, the baggage, all that shit really does start to wear on you.

And imagine if you went through airport security as well, maybe you do go through as Bianca.

Ive never had to fly in drag thankfully! 

As a self-proclaimed expert on nothing who has an opinion on everything, I need your take on John Travolta nearly giving Taylor Swift impersonator Jade Jolie a VMA because he mistook her for the actual Taylor Swift. 

(Laughs) I mean, its hysterical. Obviously hes got delusion problems. Hes not dealing with a full deck right now. He also is a Scientologist, which goes to show it. And he had that Adele Nazeem moment. Either hes a drunk or he takes a pill or he just doesnt f*cking care. I was just glad to see he was not wearing a wig. Theres a rarity! So, you know, hes embracing his non-wig self. Next hell admit that hes gay. 

That he confused them was it a compliment to Taylor or to Jade? 

To Jade, because shes a Taylor Swift impersonator. I think its great. I think its an honest mistake, because to be fair I cant tell any white girls apart. 

As Bianca, do you ever confuse people? 

I do meet-and-greets, and when you have meet-and-greets, people are always like, Oh, I just saw you in Stockholm! or I saw you in London!and I have to really think. You do 150 people a night as part of the meet-and-greets, so its very hard to remember. Theres usually some characteristic that gets me there, but on occasion Ive been like, Have we met before?!And theyll say, No.Im like, OhOK. Thought we did.So it can fuck with you, with that many people a night. But I really havent mistaken anybody for anybody of importance, no.

If John Travolta met you, who knows who you might be mistaken for. 

Who cares! Im not interested! Hes not high on my list. 

Who is high on your list?

I think every gay man would say Dolly Parton. Shes that rare one that is almost like some mythical creature. Shes just one of those who I love not only because shes Dolly Parton and Ive grown up with her, but also shes just so fucking funny.

Some people might describe you as a mythical creaturetoo.  

Emphasis on the word creature,yes. But mythical? No. (Laughs) 

This is very controversial in gay bars, so I wonder if this translates to your shows. But do you let bachelorette parties come to Bianca shows?

Oh, I dont care. Whoever buys a f*cking ticket, I dont give a shit. Gurl, listen: I think people have lost their minds. The gays dont even wanna be in the gay bars anymore! Theyre all on a f*cking app anyway. Nobody is even paying attention. And look, at least somebodys in the bar. Somebody has to buy a drink to keep gay bars open. You cant rely on gay men to do that. So look, let the girls come in, let them have a good time. Not like Ive never told a bitch to shut up. You can do that, but you cant be offended. Who cares! As long as theyre there having fun, f*ck it.

Isnt the point of coming to a Bianca Del Rio show to be offended?

First of all, its important to laugh at ourselves. I laugh at myself, and I laugh at everything that I could possibly laugh at. But I think weve lost that because theres so much with social media warriors constantly saying, You cant say thisand Im offended.Well, then, f*ck off! If youre offended by me, then dont come and see me. Its very simple. I dont like Kim Kardashian, but I dont spend my life watching her on fucking TV or writing all over her Facebook or Instagram or Twitter saying, I hate you, youre a piece of shit.I just dont care. You can live a successful life with someone not liking you. 

Have you always been the kind of person who says what some people really want to say but are too scared to say? Has that always been your style?

Always. Yeah, yeah.

As a kid?

Yeah, as a child everything was always funny to me, and I would always try to find humor in all of it. Its just what you have to do. It was just my survival skills. Imagine being different, being artsy, being gay. All that definitely can either turn on you or you can find a way through it, and that was just my way through it, which is being blunt and upfront. And the people who got it usually the smart ones understood it. 

When did you know you could get away with more if you put on a costume?

When I got paid. I always said it, but it wasnt until the packaging came with it. And its not so much that I can get away with more its just whats easier for people to accept. For instance, with drag in particular, the average person would think, I have nothing of interest with a drag queen.But when they see it, theyre kind of fascinated by it. So, for me, it was just this evolution into it. I mean, I could totally live my life without being in drag and I probably will. Im not doing this forever. 

What do you think your post-drag life will look like? 

Thats the stupidest question! I have no idea! I know I dont want to be schlepping around the world in a wig and heels at 60, I can tell you that. Its one of those things where Im like, look, its been 24 years so far, Im all right, but I know its not forever. And I have no idea. I didnt plan this far. So I dont know what the f*ck Ill be doing. But itll be something fun, thats for sure.  

You once said its important to know your limits. What new limits have you set for yourself at 44? 

I said I didnt want to do drag at 40 because at the time I think I was 37 and it was right before Drag Race, and so I was working a regular job in New York City during the day making costumes for Broadway and then at night working in a club. So at that point, 18 years of working in the clubs and trying to stay afloat and the bars were fading, not many people were coming out like they used to, so New York nightlife completely changed and I thought I could wrap this up at 40 and be OK. Id had a great 20 years and that wouldve been that. But then at 38 well, 37 is when I filmed Drag Race it shifted everything, it elevated everything, and I was ready for the challenge. But I dont think I want to stay in that particular game. I mean, no one should. No one should stay in something just because youve been doing something. You have to trust your instincts and move on. I definitely know this is not something I want to do forever on this level. Its demanding and by no means am I bitching about it. Im being realistic here. Options! (Laughs) 

After your controversial remark during Montreal Pride about Drag Race season 10 contestant Blair St. Clair in 2018, did that have you reconsidering how far to push the envelope?

First and foremost, I have a problem with, when youre watching a drag show and everybody has an ailment or an issue or loves to tug at your heartstrings to try to get people to like you. Thats what I was discussing (during her set, Del Rio said, “You got the one going ‘Ugh, I’m fat.’ Then you got the other one going ‘Ugh, I’m a black queen,'” referencing season 10 contestants Eureka O’Hara and The Vixen. She then mentioned Blair St. Clair opening up about being sexually assaulted: Then you got that other bitch, ‘I was raped!’ No, f*ck you…”). I was discussing someone being left at a bus stop, somebody being sick. 

All of that is part of the nonsense of being part of a reality show. And Im entitled to an opinion when someones about to lip sync for their life and they start pulling out all this f*ckery. Theres a time and place to discuss serious topics. So my joke was about people that find any way to bring up their heartache and pull on heartstrings, thats what I was discussing. 

And so no, I refuse to change anything that I say and do because, like I said, the people who like it, like it, the people who dont, dont. But as they have an opinion about me, I can have an opinion about the ridiculousness of a drag show. Its my take on it. And Im living proof that you can get through the show without f*cking crying in every episode, for cripessake! 

I laugh at the f*ckery. I laugh at the stunts and gimmicks. Its no worse than somebody doing a death-drop. Its been done! Just f*cking be entertaining! Im so sick of all these sob stories! Thats what thats about. 

Im guessing that even though you were named one of Americas most powerful drag queens, its not true that with great power comes great responsibility.  

I think thats absolutely ridiculous. Theres a list that says Im No. 1; theres another list that says Im the worst drag queen. Thats just how it works! None of that means anything. And whats this responsibility? Im a f*cking man in a wig making a living. Im not a f*cking superhero. And dont put me on a pedestal because I shouldnt be on a pedestal, because they love to put you on a pedestal and then tear you the f*ck down. You cannot fool me. They love to say youre amazing. Like, look, this girl Lizzo is the one everybody loves right now. Just give her a year and theres gonna be something someone is gonna bitch about and pull out and sayshe did thisand say she did thatand CANCEL her. Thats how they are. Thats just the world. So look: Im not looking for that type of acceptance. And you shouldnt be putting faith in f*cking people that are on reality shows, for cripessake. Thats ridiculous. People that idolize me or Snooki have problems. 

Referring to the way the queens are depicted on Drag Race versus their actual persona, you said recently, Ive been behind the curtain. And when youre behind the curtain, its kind of weird to watch.Do people get a better understanding of who you are from your shows than they did from Drag Race

Yes and no. The thing is you can only be yourself when youre on television, and of course if you say something theyre going to use it. So the people that say, Oh, its the editing? Well, if you didnt say it, they wouldnt have the footage. Ive accepted responsibility for everything I said and everything I did, and sadly a lot of people dont do that when they leave the show. They have to blame someone, and it wont be themselves. 

If you could have been on a different season of Drag Race, which season of girls would you have wanted to compete against?

I dont care. I dont have an opinion. (Laughs) I can’t even remember who was on what season when! Its that much of a blur. It was six years ago, and I never watched the show when it was airing. I would watch marathons, but I would never watch it weekly, night after night after night. I never followed. The only seasons Im familiar with are four and five; the rest of them have become a blur. And, I mean, a lot of them are my friends, but I cant remember which season they were on. Im also a firm believer that it happened, it was great, I had a great experience and a great moment, but I wouldnt change any of it.

So if an All Stars: Winnersseason ever happens, would you be interested in competing?

Nope. Why? Would you go back to high school?