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Interview With Bianca Del Rio, Winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Bianca Del Rio
Bianca Del Rio

Bianca Del Rio, the winner of season 6 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” is a West Bank native who made a name for herself as a performer and costume designer in New Orleans before moving to New York. She recently performed two sold out shows on her “Rolodex of Hate” tour at House of Blues New Orleans. We asked her a few questions before the show.

How do you feel about being the New Orleans LGBT community’s “hometown girl”?
It’s amazing. New Orleans has been very, very good to me. Without New Orleans, I wouldn’t have been working. I was lucky enough to work at Oz for 10 years, five days a week. The great thing about New Orleans is that it’s always home and everybody wants you to do well. My goal was not to leave and go to New York and become successful. I just wanted a change, always knowing that I would come back to New Orleans at some point. This is just the icing on the cake.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in New Orleans?
I usually go to either Oz or Lafitte’s to have a bloody mary. Or I’ll go to Bourbon Street and get a daiquiri — that’s if I make it past Metairie without stopping at a drive-through daiquiri shop. If I’m traveling with anyone that’s not from New Orleans, they’re fascinated by the fact that you can do that.

Describe New Orleans in one word.
Magical: the architecture, the food, the culture, you can get a daiquiri and walk on the street. Magical because you really do walk around in disbelief — you really do.

What’s your favorite New Orleans festival?
Mardi Gras definitely … was always my favorite. I used to go to all of the parades with my mom and family and friends, but I didn’t really experience Mardi Gras until I experienced gay Mardi Gras, which is the Mardi Gras balls that lead up to everything [Amon-Ra, Satyricon, Lords of Leather, Armeinius, Petronius]. And then Mardi Gras Day, getting to be out in costume with the Society of St. Ann, which is this huge group of people that march from the Marigny to Canal Street to see Rex. It’s a huge parade of costumes … something that I’ll never forget. It was like “This is real Mardi Gras!” — this is what it’s like. So, my love instantly grew stronger. It became less about beads and throws and more about experiencing it with some amazing people.

So, where will we be able to find you at Mardi Gras?
I’m going to be at Oz, and I’m going to be hosting the Bourbon Street Awards, which I’ve done for the past 12 years with Blanche [Debris]. So that’s Mardi Gras day at 10 a.m. [at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets]. And like a true New Orleanian I have a late flight on Wednesday. It makes sense ’cause I know what happens.

Speaking of flights, what happens if the airline loses your luggage?
Well, it’s happened! I’ve now created in my carry-on a Baby Bianca, which is the Bianca starter kit. This is what you get — one wig, one muumuu, glasses, and whatever TSA allows me to carry. They’ve lost my luggage in Wisconsin of all places, and I was in a pickle, but I went to the local Wal-Mart and bought some stuff — it was like a “Drag Race” competition. I had an hour and I had to make it work. I always say, what’s a drag queen without her luggage? A man.

How do you get in the “zone” before a show?
It’s just setting yourself up … occasionally I’ll have a glass of wine (because that always kind of helps). People ask, “Why don’t you get a makeup artist? Or why don’t you get a hairdresser?” For me, all of that is part of the process — it’s get into the monkey suit, and then get to the venue and deal with whatever is in front of you, which is a live audience — that I love.

Bianca Del Rio is still on her “Rolodex of Hate” tour. See the dates here. To receive the upcoming Guide to Gay Mardi Gras, sign up for New Orleans’ LGBT newsletter here.

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