Bianca Del Rio spoke to Entertainment Weekly about her immediate reaction to hearing her name announced as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which Drag Racer tested her patience, and which queens she would have NOT wanted to go up against if she had to Lipsync for Her Life. After the jump.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, condragulations and thanks for talking to me bright and early after what I’m sure was a wild night. Did you get up to any shenanigans after your win?
BIANCA DEL RIO: It was a crazy, crazy, crazy, insane night. I have 342 text messages that I haven’t looked at or even bothered to see who the hell or what yet. I haven’t gone [on the Internet] yet. I’m afraid my phone will blow up.
Before all that, what was the first thought that popped in your head when RuPaul announced your name?
It’s all surreal. Even if you think about it, we’ve had some time [over the last few months] to go back and forth about what could happen with any possible scenario, but when it happens, it just kind of throws you for a minute. You’re watching it with everybody else in the world, which is the good and bad of it. So much of what we experienced on the show happened and then aired. Now, for everybody to know what’s going on at the same time [as we do], it was overwhelming. I was grateful to be there with Adore and Courtney. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You definitely emerged as a fan favorite as the show aired. Did you have any hopes or expectations that you’d win?
No. That’s the thing about the whole process — even in moments when I was confident during the show, you really don’t know what the judges are looking for, you really don’t know what they like. The support from people that watch the show has been overwhelming, but, in the end, you truly don’t know. It is Ru’s decision. They really put you through the ringer. Everybody’s got an opinion — good and bad — and it can rattle you at moments. You never really think you have it in the bag at all.
You mentioned support, and I think that’s one that stood about this season and made fans connect to you — despite being able to zing someone, you also have this kindness that was, for lack of a better word, maternal…
Are you calling me old? [Laughs]
You were always helping people — from dishing out advice or giving a waist cincher to Adore…
When you’re on the show, you forget the cameras are there after the first day. People are, like, “You were being maternal or showing a softer side,” but it’s just I was unaware [of presenting a certain image of myself]. For me, it was just being me. It’s fascinating — and sometimes awkward — to watch [people’s responses to me].
It speaks to a larger draw about the show in general. Compared to any other reality show, there is a greater sense of community and the different facets of that community working together, even as you’re in competition with one another.
Agreed. When you put that many people in a room, it’s sink or swim. Even walking away from it, in those moments when things might not have been the happiest or my favorite, [there’s a chance] to objectively say, “You know, I don’t dislike these people. It’s what they were experiencing while I was there.” It brings out the good and bad in all of us, and now we can sit back and become friends and realize what happened. It’s not so black or white.
Speaking of first impressions, who made the strongest first impression on you — good or bad?
All of them did for different reasons. The great thing about the show is we don’t get any information prior to it. We don’t know who’s there. I did know Courtney and Kelly Mantle prior to the show — though I didn’t see them in action until I got there. For me, once I saw Courtney, I was relieved to see somebody I know, someone I respect, someone who gets it. But you really don’t know what these girls possess. With each challenge, you find out. Otherwise, you don’t get much time to schmooze with them and find out what their strong talents are. These moments come up and you’re, like, “Is this b—- going to pull something out?” We don’t know. My views of all of them changed each time and with each challenge. By the time we got to Untucked and people were crying — Laganja [Estranja] — that was a lot. It’s, like, “Oh gurrrl. You can cry once, you can cry time… three times? I’m done!” My patience was tested there.
It’s interesting you mentioned being relieved to see Courtney because y’all definitely seemed to clash, especially toward the end of the Race. Where do you two stand now?
We’re great. Darienne, Courtney, Adore, and myself have this endless chain of texts from throughout the process [of watching the episodes air]. Really, no one understands what happened outside from us. So, as they were showing it, we talked through it. There’s no type of animosity or awkwardness or weirdness between any of us. There is no angst or hate or nastiness whatsoever. Do I agree with everything she did or said, or Darienne did, or Adore did? No. But we all take responsibility.
What would you say was your biggest challenge or stumbling block in the competition?
All of it! All challenges were challenging. If it was something you were unfamiliar with, you had to show some sense of confidence and get through it. If it was something you did confidently, you were unaware if the judges were going to get it. There never was an easy day. Never did I sit back and eat bonbons and think, “Oh, I’ve got this.” You just didn’t know. You can’t get too comfortable when you’re there.
On the flip side, what was your proudest moment?
Getting to have this great moment with Trinity [who was open about her HIV diagnosis, just as a friend of mine had been]. Trinity is a great person, and getting to know her was by far my favorite [experience] to walk away with. We’re still friends and talk. Here was something that was so unexpected, and it clicked and made sense. That’s closest to my heart, I must say.
Since you were such a strong competitor and never had to Lipsync for Your Life, if you had the choice, who would you like to go head to head with?
Not Trinity and not Darienne because those are some Lipsync b—-es! [Laughs] I learned every Lipsync song because you do not know what’s going to happen. When Ru [says you’re safe], it’s like, “Thank you, Jesus!” For a lot of the other contestans, that was their strong point. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but… I was just prepared to bring it any time — I just didn’t know who or what or where or when. I’m grateful that it wasn’t Trinity or Darienne, I gotta say. I don’t have a favorite, but I know who I didn’t want to go against.
Do you think there were contestants who were eliminated before their time?
In the zone, I remember being there and thinking that everybody went home when they should have gone home. [Viewers don’t] have all the information that I had when I was there or see the endless hours of either their struggle or their attitude or whatever. To watch it [on TV], it is a different story. It is a journey, it’s a test of your skills, it’s a test of your sanity. I think everybody went home when they should have gone home, and I stand by it.
Though you’re known for your zingers, you mentioned at the finale that there were things you said that made you cringe. What were some examples of that?
I probably would have handled things differently. There’s lots of little things: I would have changed my hair, or I wouldn’t have worn this lipstick. The whole situation with Laganja was quite testing. Some of that I would have taken back and shifted it a bit, but you’re seeing 13 minutes of it, whereas we were there for three hours. In the moment, that’s what I felt, but I don’t have that anxiety or hate or nastiness or lack of patience normally. Those are things I wish I could have, maybe, softened as opposed to just going in and going, “Rawr!“
On the other hand, do you have a line that fans have quoted back to you — something you’ll be putting on a T-shirt?
By far, the latest response I’ve gotten is from [when I said to Courtney Act], “Not today Satan! Not today.” It’s something I’ve always said and something I always live by. When there’s some sh—y situation coming up, it’s the best way to deal with it.
Last — and most important — question: How are you going to spend that $100,000?
I haven’t even thought about. I mean, the first thing to remember is that the check is from Logo, so I have to go to the bank and make sure it’s good. [Laughs] At my age, I’m going to do adult things with it. The show’s given me this amazing platform to do anything that I want to do and have the support of people that I never expected. At this point in my life, to be on this level is insane. Even though I had all this time to think of about it, I really did not plot or plan anything. It’s kind of, like, “Here we go, let’s roll….” I know I’ve got everybody behind me, and I’m looking forward to the next journey.
Well you’ve got a long runway, no pun intended…
[Laughs, asks mischievously] Who told?