Roy Haylock made movie headlines when Hurricane Bianca became one of the great sleeper comedies of the last several years. Now, he’s back — as Bianca.
Metrosource: Hurricane Bianca was such a tickle, and so surprisingly … linear and funny. So many of us were expecting something between an early John Waters/Divine movie and a Varla Jean Merman short. How satisfied were you with the result and the response? It works as a comedy, but it also makes a serious point about being fired just because you happen to be gay.
Del Rio: The intention was to be funny and to have fun. But yes, at the core, it’s a also serious topic can you can be fired in 29 states for being gay. So we tried to find a way to present that situation and keep it funny. And with Matt Kugleman writing; he always takes it to another level of funny. He was the one who said, let’s put Biana and (her nemesis, Debbie Ward) Rachel Dratch together, and I had a blast doing that.
Metrosource: Was the second movie easier to make? It’s often said that you have your whole life to make your first project, and two years to finish your second.
Del Rio: I just showed up. The second film was written by Matt Kugelman and Derek Hartley. So all I did was take out five or six weeks from touring. And I made sure they didn’t send me things too far ahead — because I’m not going to deal with it until it’s right there in front of me. I knew that we were filming in New York in October, and it was a lovely thing to wake up to — the idea of being in one place for a week, where all I had to know was whether to show up in or out of drag. And there are a lot of cameos from people who happened to be in town; Wanda Skyes, Chyenne Jackson, I mean Janeane Garafalo, for God’s sake! It was a lot of fun.
Metrosource: So moviemaking appeals to you.
Del Rio: I turned down several Meryl Streep roles. Dealing with Kugie, who just tells me: it’s gonna happen. He makes magic, you know. It was more or less the idea of a sequal that had been lingering in his mind since the first one, and there’s a third installment planned as well.
Metrosource: Do you see yourself as a trailblazer, planting the drag flag in Tinseltown?
Del Rio: I don’t really think of myself as carving out a path, but I know myself and my strong suites. I like stand-up and this is what I do. I’m not a singer to create music or videos; I’m a little older than some of the other queens. I’ve been at this for 22 years now, and I think of being on television as kind of a Golden Ticket. I know what it’s like to appear in front of four people at the Ritz on a Monday night. It’s quite amazing, and I definitely appreciate being able to travel the world, to go to Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. It’s worked out well and I can’t complain.
Metrosource: Why do you think you’ve been so successful, where others have clearly not been?
Del Rio: I’m not one of those queens who sits around thinking about what it all means — unless I’ve been drinking. I think as long as you’re working, that’s all that matters. And I know not everyone is going to like my particular brand of comedy. So you just go and do your thing the best you can.
Metrosource: Do you think you could have done all this without Drag Race?
Del Rio: If you want to look at how Drag Race has changed the world’s perception of drag — it all depends on how you look at it. I’ve been at it for many years. I didn’t start drag to do television; it just happened to work out. And when it does, you’re put on a platform and what happens after that is up to you. Some find success and some don’t. Some get banned from DragCon, when you know the only bomb they’re really going to bring is their act.
Look: I didn’t change who I am. I still travel all over with a new show every 10 months, but it’s still me. And of course one of the things about Drag Race becoming so huge is that people now think whatever they saw portrayed on the show is all you, or all there is to you. And there’s also a slew of people who now think they’re experts. We didn’t have all this when I was growing up — other than Ru with her solo show on VH-1.
So there have been a hundred queens through Drag Race now, and a handful that are memorable. So you have to figure out where you are in life and what you want to do with it. As far as the haters go, I just don’t listen to them. I know in my heart they’re gonna die. I mean, who cares what some keyboard warrior thinks? I have no regrets.
Metrosource: Is there a downside to the acceptance and assimilation of drag to where it can actually dilute the original, like Cinco de Mayo or St. Paddy’s celebrations?
Del Rio: To me it’s all just entertainment. It’s not some secret magic thing that requires a lot of time thinking about it. That’s not my thing. To me, it’s pretty simple: If I don’t wear a wig I’m a nasty fag. If I do, I’m hysterical. I just try to go about my business, you know? I’m a clown, and I’m not here trying to change the world. I wanna laugh, and so do the people who come and see me.
Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate makes its debut May 18. Check your cinema listings and streaming services for details.
Last modified: May 15, 2018