A quiet Tuesday afternoon was passing peacefully enough at the Penguin offices in London. Someone, somewhere, was being presented with a birthday cake by their colleagues. A too-tall stack of books was inevitably collapsing on someone at their desk. Suddenly the undercurrent of clattering keyboards was interrupted by a shriek from an unassuming meeting room. Bianca Del Rio was on the phone.
It’s impossible to get through a conversation with her without screaming. The winner of season 6 of Rupaul’s Drag Race is essentially a bucket of bad taste in a wig and a scoop-neck gown. For all her success - she’s now on her second film and third comedy tour since her season ended - she’s not someone from whom you want to take advice. Asking for her opinion is like biting into an apple with a razor blade buried deep inside - it will in theory be good for you, but it won't feel good going down.
Nonetheless, Bianca fills out theatres of fans, hungry to be on the receiving end of her cutting wit. And now, if you have a particularly masochistic streak, you can bring her ‘rolodex of hate’ home with her new book, Blame it On Bianca Del Rio. If you do choose to bring this tome of filth into your home, some holy water and a fair warning may be in order, something Bianca will readily admit herself. 'Anyone who’s asking a 42-year-old drag queen who looks like a clown for advice, they deserve what they get, let’s be real.'
For a stand up comedian, someone who can usually adapt to the reaction of a live audience, doing something as final as committing her humour to paper was daunting. 'In print, it’s like death. Once it’s there it’s done.' Unlike a live gig ('usually it’s just shaving and throwing on make-up'), there was a sense of finality that made Bianca determined to ensure that the subtle nuances behind her sledgehammer humour came through.
Not one to hold her punches, the advice that Bianca doles out in the copious letters pages of her book isn’t designed to make anyone feel good, but she’s never anything less than honest. With Pride kicking off in a matter of weeks, she seemed like the perfect person to help guide us all through this exciting and often dizzying period.
Talking about the mainstream interest in pride from outside the LGBTQ community, Bianca was baffled by straight people who are endlessly fascinated by queer culture: 'I’ve never once walked down the street with my gay friends and said "ooh, let’s run in that bar and see what the straight people are up to." We know what they’re up to! Nothing of interest! So this is one of those places where I think segregation is very important. Because the time you would spend talking to a straight person could be spent drinking. And let’s be honest, if the straight people stay home on gay pride, they might have sex and create more gay children, which is the best thing they could do really.'
Bianca seemed to really enjoy writing this book, and I wondered whether there was any more literary output in her future, and what kind of writer she might turn into.
'Never ask a drag queen what she can turn into. I’ll do anything for money,' she said, before revealing that she had long ago, with a friend, come up with an idea for a series of children’s books.
But I’m afraid we’ll have to wait a while before we get to see a future generation adopt a slightly gentler version of Blame it On Bianca Del Rio’s caustic burn. Bianca isn’t keen to share the profits or the glory, so she’s either waiting to work things out with her friend, or for them to die, before she embarks on that next project… For now though, wisdom abounds in the pages of this new book. As Bianca says, 'love means never having to say "‘that’s just a cold sore, right"'.
'Acetone, carbon disulfide, lacquer, gasoline, and fuel oil are all wonderful accelerants.'
'A lot of parents think their son/daughter is "just experimenting." I believe that if you do it once, you're drunk; twice, you're curious; three times, you're a Republican congressman with a wife and four happy Christian children.'
'Your question is stupid. I have no advice for you. By the way, my lips are real. Ask your father.'