Bianca Del Rio: An Overnight Success (That Took 22 Years)

Bianca Del Rio is really nice.

I know, I know, but honestly, she’s wonderful. We spent some time talking today and I think I’m a bigger fan than I was before the call. I am an unusual fan, in that I have never seen RuPaul’s Drag Race (don’t have cable). I found her through the show In Bed With Joan Rivers and thought that Ms. Bianca was one of the funniest humans I’ve ever come across. Her humor is a lot like Joan Rivers. So over the top mean and bitchy. So witty and quick. Both of them have that wink that lets us know that they’re just playing, and they’re not really going to eat us.

Joan Rivers was a hero to Bianca, and was so generous and kind to everyone she met—in person. Bianca talked about their first meeting—way before Drag Race—where Joan was just as kind as she was after Bianca won the sixth season of the show. I’ve heard that success amplifies what already lives in a person. If you were an asshole before success found you, you’ll be a gigantic asshole after. In the case of Bianca and Joan, it seems they’ve always been kind.

Bianca’s new tour, “Blame it on Rio,” began last year and has just hit the United States after stops in Australia, Asia, and South America. After several months of airplane rides, she’s on the ground taking a bus for this stretch of the tour. Part of the headache of airplanes is the packing involved. I asked how Bianca achieves her total look, because she’s the opposite of booger-drag. With a long history in theater and opera, Bianca is used to staging a show. It’s never just one thing at a time, and she said she’s gotten very good at finding what works for her, her body shape, and the stage, even looking at which fabrics don’t wrinkle during travel (sequins), which color the curtain on the stage is, and what makes sense for the location. There are so many components to the look. Bianca said that the best compliment she’s ever received was from a friend who said, “You always look like a Broadway show.”

I asked what came first, the comedy or the drag. They started hand in hand, as a gradual process. She was a dresser and tailor for shows, then starring in shows, then starring in drag in shows. The comedy was a gradual process as well. As a way to keep shows moving, she learned how to talk to the audience, saying, “You get the best comedy through talking to people.”

We talked about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. It’s the hustle. The trick is to just keep working and say yes to everything (within reason). You never know how it’s going to work, and how a conversation can lead to a friendship and then to an opportunity. She also said that you have to pay attention to how you feel while working. If you don’t like it anymore, find something else. Taking chances is how you get where you want to be, and the craziest risks you take can change your life. She also suggested surrounding yourself with people that you trust. All of her staff are her friends, and all of them will answer the question, “Am I being crazy?” honestly.

One of the things I enjoyed most about our conversation was while we were talking about current events. Both of us can’t even watch the news anymore. There are a lot of heavy and serious things going on in the world right now. One of the things that happens when things get dark is that the funny and compassionate people become our lifelines. Things might get dark and twisty for a while, but we have to have some light, too.

Bianca Del Rio will be lighting up the stage in St. Louis at the Pageant on February 25th. See you there. | Melissa Cynova


Tour dates:


February 22 – Milwaukee, Turner Hall Ballroom

February 23 – Detroit, Royal Oak Music Theater

February 24 – Chicago, The Vic

February 25 – St. Louis, The Pageant

February 28 – Houston, Warehouse Live

March 1 – Austin, Paramount Theatre

March 2 – Dallas, Majestic Theatre

March 3 – New Orleans, Orpheum Theater

March 6 – Ft. Lauderdale, Parker Playhouse

March 7 – Tampa, Straz Center for the Arts

March 8 – Orlando, The Plaza Live

March 9 – Atlanta, Variety Playhouse

March 10 – Ponte Vedra, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

March 11 – Nashville, James K Polk Theater

March 13 – Durham, Carolina Theatre


Go to for more dates


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