Bianca Del Rio
St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wed 1 Aug
With the popularity of drag at its peak (thanks in no small part to RuPaul’s Drag Race), Cardiff once again welcomes one of the show’s greatest exports Bianca Del Rio back to the stage at St David’s Hall. A modest set consisting of velvet magenta curtains bathed in soft pink lighting sets the scene as support act Sherry Vine takes to the stage. First thing on the agenda for Miss Vine, a New York City native, is how to thank the Welsh crowd in our native tongue with hilarious consequences.
Keith Levy, a veteran of the drag scene, has been performing as Sherry since 1992, so you won’t be seeing any death drops in her set, but she uses that to her advantage with some hilarious choreography as she blasts through parodies of Britney Spears Toxic (cheekily renamed Cock Stinks and coming with its own warning), as well as the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah} (or How I Blew Ya). A hilarious, not to mention nasty, warm up for Miss Del Rio. Can this show possibly shock anymore?
Of course it can: this is Bianca Del Rio. Anyone familiar with her work will know that no subject matter is taboo. Before the chaos starts, the soothing tones of RuPaul, the queen of queens, are played over the P.A., introducing the night’s main event. The beauty of Bianca Del Rio’s act is that before she takes every single type of human apart, she viciously takes herself apart first. Black, white, gay, heterosexual, cancer victims, fellow queens and everybody else are all put to the sword by the self-confessed “most hateful bitch in the world.”
Her vitriol is truly shocking in parts, but it’s carefully balanced with her own self-depreciation and delivered in a manner that somehow doesn’t offend. She offers insight and opinions into the inner workings of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which fans of the show enjoyed, as well as road stories with other queens, which has the entire crowd roaring in the aisles. Her love of the odd chardonnay is well documented as she knocks back glass after glass of the stuff, giving the show an intimate feel, as if we are all just hanging out at a bar, while she tells us stories. Anyone brave enough to heckle is given a vicious dressing down by Bianca including the hapless person who decided to try and take a picture. The encore is a Q+A session with the crowd, which gives Del Rio a chance to get up close and personal with her audience and boy does she get personal. Every question is answered in her own unique style culminating in her lip syncing while a poor girl states the longest place name in Wales. No doubt some shocking lines have been uttered on that famous stage, but Bianca Del Rio just took it to a whole new level.
words Chris Andrews