"Have you seen me? I'm clown realness!"
During Season 6 of the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race in 2014, eventual winner Bianca Del Rio described herself as an insult comic who should never be taken seriously — complete with makeup that would make Bozo jealous. In the years since her Drag Race triumph, Del Rio has been hard at work building an empire that consists of two (soon to be three) Netflix films, countless sold-out worldwide tours, a book deal, and all of the accompanying merch that drag queens with TV exposure are expected to sell.
"It all starts with the sense of humor; let's begin with that," she tells New Times. "I'm a fucking joke! I am a walking joke. I'm not curing cancer over here, people! Look at me!"
Del Rio has spent much of this year traveling the globe on her tour It's Jester Joke, which will land at the Olympia Theater Wednesday, October 30. Among previous tour stops were London's Wembley Arena — where Del Rio made history as the first drag queen to headline a show (and a sold-out one at that) — and the iconic Carnegie Hall earlier this month.
"It hasn't hit me yet," Del Rio reflects, chalking up her delayed emotional reaction to the frenetic energy of tour life.
Her trademark "Rolodex of Hate" — the mental directory of insults she consults when looking to deliver a punch line — has helped her present a uniquely tailored show on every stop of the nine-month tour.
"It is tricky when you're trying to figure out what you want to talk about, and it is interesting to see what triggers people and what gets them really laughing at stuff," Del Rio says. "So you have to kind of navigate through what's going to make sense to other people. Usually, the majority of the show I talk about myself and my life, but when you’re traveling with a show for a year, it does change, and usually, wherever you go, the rhythm of it will change as well."
Much of her comedic material, she says, comes to her while she's on the road, so she has already begun filling out a new Rolodex for her next tour.
Her biting wit and unfiltered style haven't failed to strike a few nerves; in more recent years, social media has provided fans and critics a public platform to publicly praise or shame her.
"It’s not so much that people are offended more nowadays; it’s just more noise and more outlets," she says plainly. "Do you ever expect anyone to agree with everything you say? If you did, you’d be batshit crazy. I also don't have to be someone you like, and that's OK too! I'll live, you'll live, and we can both function in this world."
Del Rio notes that the volatility of fan bases and their loyalty is especially apparent among LGBTQ people, who have a tendency to uplift and celebrate performers and trailblazers but then "cancel" them for their first misstep.
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"In the gay world, and in drag in particular, they love to put you on a pedestal and then two minutes later rip you down," she says. "Or you could be the opposite: You could be this gay icon that lives your life and everyone puts you on a pedestal where you can do no wrong, and I can show you endless texts from any of those bitches of the shit they say in real life. I'm actually the opposite: I'm a cunt onstage but a real person offstage!"
Next week's show will mark only Del Rio's second time performing in Miami — her South Florida stops in the past have mostly been reserved for Fort Lauderdale. "This is the first time in a long time that I'm actually coming to perform in Miami as opposed to vacation, so I'm really looking forward to it," she says. "I can't wait to see all the glorious Ed Hardy fashion!"
Though she says she has to remain somewhat tight-lipped about what's coming down the pike next year, she confirms that Hurricane Bianca 3 is just one of her upcoming projects. "There's always something that I will always find to do, because I just enjoy working so much," she says. "There's always something on the horizon; it really comes down to scheduling and making it all happen. I don't think I've ever had a true plan of what I wanted, but I'm a 'yes' person. And look where it got me: Twenty-four years later, I'm still wearing a fucking wig! What was I thinking?"