When I talked to drag superstar extraordinaire Bianca Del Rio in mid-August, she had just returned from a four-night run of sold out shows in Amsterdam. Besides being a wee-bit jet-lagged, Bianca was her usual snark-tastic self. “I’m still slightly off, but I’m getting there,” she quips. (Aren’t we all, dear?)
When Bianca phoned in from NYC, I started peppering her with questions right off the bat. (Blame a few too many espressos.) My first question? I wanted to know about finding her spectacular new digs in Palm Springs seconds before California closed up shop last year. “A lovely thing happened,” she says. “I had all my ducks in a row and luckily I was able to do it literally a week before things got shut down. Within a week I found a house, moved in, and then I had no furniture. I was living amongst boxes waiting for anything to be delivered during a pandemic. So, I spent last year waiting for furniture to show up.”
To recap, Bianca found a house in under a week just as the pandemic just started raging, people. When I mention that was a Christmas miracle, she laughed. “I don’t play,” she said with a chuckle. “This was the first house I saw that I fell in love with. I saw ten other houses and went back to this one and said, “Bip, bam, boom, let’s do it!”
But the gag I was dying about (literally. dead.), was how her RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6 appearance this season came about. Unless you’ve been living under a sequined rock, you know Bianca has never once had to lip sync for her life on the show. And when she was ruvealed as episode five’s lip sync assassin, there’s was a collective gay gasp in the universe. Would Bianca really be duking it out against that week’s winner Ginger Minj? Let’s hear the tea from Bianca:
“It was so insane. I have not kept up with much of Drag Race after leaving because there’s so much of it and it’s very hard to live a normal life and keep up with every episode. But I only knew from my friends, and the drag queens that I know who go on the show that they had ‘drag queen assassins. So, I reached out to one of the producers who I love, Tom Campbell. I said I have this idea—can I come in and be a lip sync assassin? He started cackling and said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Can I come in and pretend that I’m going to do it—but then don’t do it!?’ Sure enough, we were able to work it out. I took I don’t know how many Covid tests and had to drive to Los Angeles.
I thought they’re never going to use this. I literally filmed it a year ago and had forgotten about it. I moved it to the back of my mind. And there it was. It was a silly gag I thought was a fun idea and they went along with it. I was just grateful for the opportunity.”
Her Nora Desmond-esque lip sync outfit was a Bianca Del Rio original, but it was an inspired recreation—courtesy of the late Anthony Powell who designed Sunset Boulevard for Broadway. “I love his work. He also created all the costumes for 101 Dalmatians. He’s done a lot with Glenn Close just in general. But he was an amazing designer and that was one of my favorite outfits from Sunset Boulevard. So, I did my own little turn on it, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to wear it—obviously national television. [laughs] And the most ridiculous thing is to wear a turban during when you’re going to lip sync. They had no idea what was going on.”
Bianca stomped down the runway, threw in a few barbs, and waited for the gag to be revealed, or so she thought. Ginger Minj was, shall we say, gobsmacked. “What was hysterical to me is that I’m friends with all these people. And Ginger who I love, and think is a very talented queen—I remember meeting her early on. My favorite reaction from her was her laughing, ‘What the f*ck is going on?’ Like, I’m the most non-lip sync assassin person. But what she didn’t realize was that I thought, ‘What if they turn this joke around on me?! What if I have to do this now?!’ In my head, I thought Ru could be f*cking with me right now because I jumped into this not knowing if they were going to turn the tables on me. Luckily, they didn’t. But (Ginger’s) ‘what-the-f*ck’ face was my favorite.”
Bianca’s back on the road and will be crisscrossing the U.S. and Canada on her new Unsanitized comedy tour which arrives in Kansas City at The Folly Theater on September 22. “I’m excited to be amongst the people again,” she says. “And for someone who hates people I was shocked at how much I missed people.” Plus, read my ha-larious IN Kansas City Magazine interview with her here.
Interview gently edited for content and clarity.