These days, no nightclub show is complete without the lacerating tongue of Bianca Del Rio, the hilarious “drag queen of mean” on the local scene. She’s merciless—basically Lisa Lampanelli with a bigger schlong—and can cut you faster than an angry pimp, but much more amusingly. The alter ego of New Orleans–born Roy Haylock—who abets his income by working for a Broadway costuming house by day—Bianca co-hosts the Hot Mess revue Wednesdays at xl and can also be seen anywhere else fine insults are torpedoed into alcoholics’ faces.
I sat her down for some trash talk and actually survived it.
Hi, Bianca. Why did you leave New Orleans? Because there was a hurricane called Katrina. Some people thought it was just a big black drag queen who stole my jewelry.
Was your home destroyed?
No. I was on the second floor. I was just bored.
Where do you get your aggressive humor from? Normality, humanity. The advantage to doing drag is that I get away with it. As a man, I’d be called a nasty fag. When you wear a wig, you’re called hysterical. There’s a lot to be said about human behavior, but what’s interesting is people don’t address it. When you do, they find it hysterical, yet it’s completely obvious.
Do people get angry at your remarks? All the time. But you always have a mic, so they can never win. Besides, they’re not coming to see me because they want me to be nice. There’s enough nice queens.
Really? Like whom?
Sherry Vine and Peppermint. They have to be nice because they’re not smart enough to be anything else. I’m kidding.
Who are your true friends in the drag world? Sherry. Bunny. And not because they’re old, and they have a date with Jesus. To work with them is a hoot, but also everyone in the drag world is different, and that makes for a better show. I never know what’s gonna happen at Hot Mess. If Bunny takes her medication, it’s OK. But she’s the first one out of the club, with her little bag and her dreams, heading up to Harlem. When you see her wig the week after, you realize she had fun.
What are you trying to say with your use of stereotypes? That they’re not really true? It’s obviously that it is true. There’s always humor in truth, and I don’t mind saying it—but also about myself. Asians have nail salons, and blacks drink Hennessy—oh, and I’m a spic, and I’m not legal. Several people in the community think I shot Selena. Basically, I’m no better, and you’re sitting back and watching this bullshit on a Wednesday night. What the fuck do you want? I’m not curing cancer. I’m a racial stereotype myself—I’m a drag queen who’s brown in a wig, and my parents were Cuban.
Are you ever aware of going too far? Totally. Mainly with my uncle. No, I’m aware of that—you can tell when people feel they’ve had enough.
But isn’t it weird that the meaner you get, the more popular you become? If you allow that to become your identity, it would be different. I have a real life, a day job. I still have the same sense of humor, but I don’t walk into a bar and go: “Hi, I’m Bianca, a drag queen out of drag. Talk to me. I’m racist.” It’s a job. It’s not my identity.
Did you always have the same wicked perspective? Always. When you get older, people go, “You can’t say that.” Coming to New York and being a drag queen, I had my opinions. “Oh, [drag performer] Shequida’s annoying.” People said, “You can’t say that.” Who? Who are these people?
Do you still think she’s annoying? Totally. She always claims to be fancy and lovely, and she went to Juilliard, but she’s now working at a haunted house on 42nd Street.
No, a haunted mansion, a spook house. And when she said, “I went to Juilliard,” she was just visiting her cousin in prison.
Let’s roast some other drag stars while we’re at it. What would you say to Epiphany besides “Give me my jewelry back?”
I’d tell her to die like her career.
Keep your chin up. All three of them. [I object.] Please—it’s all good! Print it! I know you’re as hateful as I am! Any queen who does an awards show and changes 16 times, and it’s not me—please!
What’s the really dark side of Roy—I mean Bianca—that you’re not showing? Everybody does drag for different reasons. Some want to prove their point, some had a bad childhood. Not for me. I feel a lot of times that becomes a crutch—”Oh, I was beaten up.” And I’m thinking, “Maybe you deserved it.” I don’t care for sob stories. You’re an adult at this point. Get over it. When you’re onstage, do what you’re supposed to do. Every fag has a sad story. I don’t. I’ve had a good life. Anything bad that’s happened makes it more fun later. I have no regrets and worries. My motto is “Never let a bitch see you sweat.”
And how’s your love life? I hate people.