by Owen Scrivener
The RuPaul phenomenon seems to have become a powerhorse meme generator, ejaculating idioms into the all encompassing fog of queer and even mainstream social media.
Phrases like ‘purse first’ and ‘feel my oats’ have penetrated the very streets, making the rounds infectiously, as idioms do, from fringe club venues to daily conversation. Well perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but at least in my queer/queer friendly circles, they shoe-horn themselves into occasional campy banter.
For a while in 2015 “not today, Satan,” was possibly the reason “not,” “today” and “satan” were words my phone suggested I paraphrase for my own sanity. But it seemed to have a vulgar punchy effect as a catch-phrase. And perhaps my execution was a little off, but its source delivered it like a knee to the face.
Bianca Del Rio (Roy Haylock) is that knee.
Like the nasty birth-child of Eydie Gorme and Yucko the Clown, she ain’t a pretty girl. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a pillar of glamour and style. As much style can be delivered in a lace front wig that seems to have the wondrous touch of Moses and Jesus.
She’s a fork tongued nasty hateful c*nt, and unapologetically so. Her act takes its cues from one of her idols, Joan Rivers, who praised her wit and forwardness as a comedian and as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 6.
Bianca is touring Australia at the moment. She stopped in Perth for Bianca Del Rio: Not Today Satan, which I was lucky enough to see on Wednesday night at the Astor Theatre in Mount Lawley.
The theater was packed. Such is the influence of her persona that she managed to fill the isles. And boy did she roast them.
The show began with an unusual Final-Countdownesque intro. Ala mode de Joan-Rivers, her hateful routine began with a jab at the sound desk for playing her on like a president elect. Honestly the crassness so symbolic of the late Joan Rivers was there from start to finish, as if she’d never left us.
Bianca was a shady drunk King Kong in a sequin gown and glittery wheat-shaped-sash. One tale she regaled to the audience was of a recent ABC radio appearance with our own Paul Kapsis and feminist Susie Orbach. Bianca made observations about how diva it was for Patti LuPone to demand that a stool be cut down to a set height, which she then measured with a measuring tape and then never used. Orbach stated that it was likely a comfort blanket, to which Bianca scoffed “You give her too much credit.”
At a Q&A she was asked whether she’d ever performed a kai-kai (when drag queens hook up) with any RuPaul contestants. She said someone suggested fellow Season 6 finalist and Australian drag star Courtney Act, to which she responded “I don’t fuck losers.”
Throughout the performance she roasted fellow Drag Race creatures and RuPaul herself, who she proceeded to impersonate. I’d never realised how robotic RuPaul actually is. I doubt I’ll see her the same way again.
She made the observation that Kaitlyn Jenner’s dress sense seemed to be overshadowed by the ignorance of the coat-hanger she apparently hadn’t removed.
She also took a few swings at the audience. Picking on the poor lesbian and her heterosexual friend right up the front, remarking the equivalent phallic length specifications on gay-cruising apps like Grindr would be finger size for lesbians.
Bianca Del Rio’s punchlines, her vulgarity seems to be parceled in a way that wouldn’t be acceptable any other way. What could come off as bigotry is channeled through such a shockingly loud vessel that it can’t be taken seriously. And I think new audiences should understand this, not just about Bianca but about shock-comedy in general.
Quips on taboo subjects dieseling through our sensibilities and restraint don’t have to hurt people. They can simply be comedy.
header image from www.biancadelrio.com