Bianca Del RioSam Bennett   

“Your stand-up routines are quite confrontational,” I point out to Roy Haylock, more famous as Bianca Del Rio. The RuPaul’s Drag Race winner cackles and describes my statement as “genius”. Yes, he confirms, his routines are confrontational. Part of the drag industry for 21 years now, he thinks back to earlier club gigs, where it could get heated between him – unknown and vicious – and a drunken audience member. This doesn’t happen so much anymore, he tells me, as his fame has grown and people are actually paying to see his act. In fact, he says, people want him to be mean to them; they’ll come up to him in an airport or shop, and ask for it. But “it doesn’t work that way”, he says. He doesn’t have a vile bank to dip into for each stranger who approaches – the Bianca nastiness requires a different sort of situation apparently.  

In his time he’s come across every kind of drag queen – the comedy queen, the singing queen, the lip-syncing queen, the storytelling queen. But there’s something new now, he says: “the Instagram queen”. These people are stunning in photos and skilled with a makeup brush, I’m told, “but there’s no talent. There’s nothing substantial there.” This doesn’t anger him (“There’s nothing wrong with being liked on Instagram”), he’s just from a generation of drag queen “where you had to do something. You had to have something to offer.” Today “we live in a world of Kardashians”, he resumes. “What do they do? Absolutely nothing. Do we know this? Yes. Do they have followers? Yes. Are they millionaires? Yes.”  

Admitting that whatever they’re doing is working for them, he says he can’t fault the Kardashians. He goes oPhoto: Jovanni Jimenex Pedrazan to call them useless pieces of shit, describing himself as fascinated that people are interested in what they’re up to. Khloe Kardashian was actually a guest judge in the series of RuPaul’s Drag Race Bianca Del Rio won. While Haylock confesses he liked her more than he thought he would, he still finds her sort of fame bizarre. But then, the American points out, “We have this asshole of a president – anything is possible in America.”  

Speaking of Trump, then, where does Haylock stand on his military trans ban? “Let me just break it down,” the comedian launches. “I obviously did not vote for Donald Trump, and I think he’s ridiculous and a disgusting human being. I think he does this shit because he’s ignorant. I think he’s trying to win a certain fan base.” These fans, he continues, support Trump’s vision, not realising “trans people have served in the military for years”. He then concludes: “If you’re willing to give your life for your country, you should be allowed to do it.”  

Insofar as this side of the Atlantic goes, I’m talking to Haylock not long after the news has broken about Nigel and Sally Rowe, the couple who have taken their six-year-old son out of his C of E school – because another boy was allowed to wear a dress. “It’s insane,” is the comic’s assessment. “What does it matter if this child wants to wear a dress to school? It doesn’t affect [the Rowes].” He applies the same thinking to the gay marriage debate: “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. How does it affect your fucking life?”  

He may hold views, but a Bianca Del Rio show doesn’t “get too preachy” or political. “Certain comedians have crossed that line and people have turned on them,” the performer reasons. “I’ve got enough shit to talk about. I will make an obvious joke about [Trump’s] appearance or lack of intelligence, but I won’t go hard in on it – because no one wants to hear that. I would rather talk about my bigger problems.”  

This year, and next, he’s using a world tour, Blame it on Bianca Del Rio, to do so. The venues are significantly bigger these days to the clubs and bars of his past. But he’ll be treating Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre, Singapore’s Shine Auditorium and Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo as though they are clubs containing four punters. Pretend it’s happy hour on a Wednesday night, he explains, and “you can’t get lost in the grandness”.  

Blame it on Bianca Del Rio comes to the UK this July – 27 July 2018 London Eventim Apollo, 28 July 2018 Brighton Centre & 30 July 2018 Birmingham Symphony Hall.  

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