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I recently got a chance to sit down with RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio. What a delight!
Bianca got her start in theatre and stumbled into drag. “I was working at this bar, and one night they asked me, ‘Hey, could you do this?’, and I said "Sure!” Prior to that night, she had done one part in a play in drag. “I say yes to everything," she explained.
From this humble beginning, Bianca grew to be a well-known drag star in New Orleans, and she led the Pride parade there many times but never really considered the level her career could go to. "I was happy to be doing it but tried to stay realistic about longevity," she said. Had it not been for that fateful night, Del Rio added, "I had planned on retiring from drag at 40. How much further could I go?" Bianca will be 40 next year. But with age comes wisdom, and Del Rio has a Ph.D. in quick wit and street smarts. Her reign as America's Drag Super Star is a laugh in the face of the ageism that plagues our community. You can be over 25 and be beautiful, successful and even have your career suddenly, finally take off.
According to Del Rio, Drag Race wasn’t something she seriously considered. "I never had a plan. I didn't expect to do the show." But Bianca has luck smiling on her. She said, "I hadn't really thought about doing the Drag Race show. I had been hired by a promoter to host a Drag Race viewing party for a club in New York. Some of the previous contestants were there, and they were acting like they were so much better than me because they had been on this show," Del Rio explained. "I looked at them and thought, ‘If they can make it on the show, I certainly CAN!’" With that she applied for the show, and we all know how that ended. Bianca said the girls in question are now good friends of hers, adding, "You have to have humility. I know I'm not better than anyone, I'm incredibly lucky."
When asked what she thought it took to win drag race and whether there was validity to queens saying they were edited to seem a certain way, she said, "Know yourself before you go on Drag Race. You need to be aware of yourself. The show is intense. The schedule is crazy, and you have a lot of different personalities. You are only in control of yourself." So perhaps the queens who see something else on screen need to look a little harder in the mirror. "You know you said that. You know you did that," she said, and pointed out that while pressure is high and that doesn’t bring out the best in people, it also doesn’t change who they really are inside either.
I had to ask about her recent appearance on Season 7. She was summoned to tell the queens to be funny. Many thought this had been shot recently because the Season 7 queens seem to be lackluster in the funny department. Not so, said Bianca: "I actually shot that last summer and had no idea what it would be used for in the show." She had shot the clip while in LA for a weekend shooting her "Really Queen?!" videos for World of Wonder, the production company for Drag Race. (If you're a fan of those videos, there's good news! She is planning on shooting more!)
Del Rio’s fame has boosted her stand-up career. Bianca is unique in the competitive world of stand up. The closest comparison I could make would be Eddie Izard, the well-known, cross dressing British comic. Like Izzard, Del Rio’s comedy is clever, shows her wisdom, and is a bit tongue in cheek. Bianca said of her craft, "I'm a man in a dress telling jokes. Talent is talent no matter what you are wearing. It's passion and it's business. I'm not curing cancer, I'm doing comedy. I don't want people to focus on the drag, but to focus on the material. That's just how I represent my community. This is who I am and how I do comedy."
Bianca loves her craft. "Every time you walk on stage and there’s an audience, it's surreal! I've performed for as few as three people before, and thought I was lucky. To walk on stage to these huge audiences is something I'm grateful for every time." That grateful attitude guides Bianca and helps keep fame from going to her head. “I really have no reason to be rude,” Del Rio said, “even if I’m tired. Everyone has bad days but I get treated really, really well: for me to be in a huff because I have jet lag would be ridiculous. I appreciate this opportunity so much!"
Her level headed approach to the business no doubt helped her win not only the title but the hearts of millions of fans. "Before drag race, I didn't have Instagram or Twitter or anything like that. It's so fun to hear back from people when they've been to a show and really enjoyed it"
When asked whether she felt pressure from becoming an overnight idol in the worldwide drag community Del Rio said, "I try to be a good person every day and be the best me I can be. I don't feel pressure but I am aware of how I treat people." She views the spotlight Drag Race put on her as bringing with it responsibilities as a LGBT spokesperson, as well. "It's important to not be too preachy."
Bianca said that getting to meet Joan Rivers before she passed away was easily the highlight of her year. "Getting to meet Joan, traveling the world, being treated well… It's been an amazing ride. It's surreal and I'm very grateful.”
What next for Bianca besides Battle of the Seasons and Drag Stars at Sea? She be bringing her Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special to Nashville’s James K. Polk Theater on June 19, 2015, at 9:00 p.m. She'll also be hosting pride events this year in Toronto and New York.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.