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Weekly Q&A: Drag superstar Bianca Del Rio on labels, lip syncs and Joan Rivers

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Woke up like this: Bianca Del Rio’s look is fierce, but she’s made a name by being funny.

After years as a costume designer and nightclub performer, the hilarious veteran drag queen Bianca Del Rio is finally getting her due. Known as Roy Haylock when not in her signature over-the-top looks—Del Rio has likened herself to “a clown in a dress”—the oft-described “comedy” queen has experienced a whirlwind year of fame and fortune since being crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar (and taking home the $100,000 prize) on the sixth season of Logo reality favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Sometime between appearing in a Starbucks commercial and performing at nightclubs around the globe, the rising star decided to take a comedy show on tour. We caught up with Del Rio ahead of her Sunday night Rolodex of Hate set at Hard Rock Live.

What has life been like since being crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar? I haven’t slept much, and I’ve been traveling a lot, which has been great. It has opened many, many doors, and I’ve been able to see the world. It’s been surreal.

You’re currently on your Rolodex of Hate tour. Who are you throwing shade at? Can you give our readers a taste of what to expect Sunday night at Hard Rock Live? With this particular show, a majority of the shade is thrown at myself … I kind of go with the flow. There is a huge part of the show that is scripted … and then the beginning and ending I have some fun with.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 6: Finale

The New York Times called you the Joan Rivers of the drag world. That’s pretty high praise. It’s something not in a million years would you expect. … I’ve always loved her and respected her, so it’s a huge compliment. It’s just been part of my process, I’ve been doing this for 19 years. … I did lip syncs, I did drag numbers, but that didn’t fit me quite well.

We don’t see a lot of comedy from drag performers in Vegas. Lip-sync performances tend to dominate the local drag shows, with a few wisecracks here and there from the host. Do you think drag is missing comedy right now? I think that they used to call people comedy queens because they were ugly … a lot of people fall into the labels. … I am a comedian who just happens to be in drag. … I think it’s always there; there are always gay men who are funny and hysterical, but they’re usually not in drag. I think there’s a market there, for sure.

Do you prefer performing in drag? Yes. I’m used to it now. … There’s also a sense of theatricality to it. … Whenever RuPaul does an interview, people are upset [if] he’s not in drag … If you’re not in a wig, oh God! … They think I wake up like that!

RuPaul’s Drag Race is about to crown another winner. What advice would you give? Just to use it wisely, and the same advice I’d give anyone is: The only thing you’re in control of is yourself. You don’t know what’s going to come next. Take that time to figure out what you want. I spent my time trying to figure out what I wanted to do. … People ask what’s next. You have to stay ahead of the game.

How long will you be in Vegas? Will you have time to explore a little? No, they don’t let me have that opportunity. I’m literally there for a night. … I can vacation when I’m dead!

Rolodex of Hate May 24, 7 p.m., $39-$85. Hard Rock Live, 702-733-7625.

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