“Everyone wants to perform at Wembley Arena,” Roy Haylock, who performs as Bianca Del Rio, said by phone from Boston. “It’s a mecca.”
Last month, Haylock/Del Rio became the first drag queen to headline Wembley Arena. The breakout star from the TV reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was overwhelmed looking out at the capacity crowd. Performing at London’s Wembley Arena is the British equivalent of performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The storied venue is one of the most venerable halls in the world.
“It felt kind of surreal,” Haylock said. “It wasn’t completely daunting, but when I looked out at so many people, I couldn’t believe they were there for me. I was taken aback initially, but after a few seconds it was on with the show.”
Haylock, 44, who was born and raised in New Orleans, is a harsh comic. The fast talking humorist is akin to a taller, more animated Don Rickles.
It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference or ethnicity is, Haylock will poke at you, but the engaging entertainer also takes shots at himself.
“Anything goes when I perform,” he said. “That’s the way it’s been since I started. I do whatever I want, and I know my humor isn’t for everybody. I’m onstage to take you away from all that is happening in the world. I’m just a clown onstage, but I’m very different from the clown in the White House. If we can’t find a little humor in all of this, it’s not going to end well. When I come to Iowa I’m going to talk about Donald Trump, Brexit and why we hate people who we haven’t even met.”
Haylock, who is of Cuban and Honduran descent, is amusing when goofing on celebrities, but much of Del Rio’s charm is when that persona picks on herself.
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“I have problems like everybody else,” Haylock said. “I have problems with razor burn, and I try not to eat food that will make me gassy before meet-and-greets with fans. I’m thrilled that I have fans, but in a world in which the Kardashians are famous, anything is possible.”
RuPaul is a huge reason why Del Rio has an audience.
“I’ll be the first to thank RuPaul, who gave me the money and let me out into the world,” Haylock said. “RuPaul is an excellent role model. I’m talking about someone who has worked hard in the business for quite some time. RuPaul put gay men in wigs into people’s living rooms. RuPaul is the reason that we’re not threatening.”
After Haylock performs as Del Rio on Oct. 24 at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, he has a date at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.
“It’s incredible,” Haylock said. “I have to thank my audience, which is 90 percent straight women. Without them, I wouldn’t be on the road like I am. I’m always somewhere. Thankfully I have a tour bus and I don’t have to fly everywhere. I live on the road.”
How does Haylock spend time at home in New York?
“I just hang out as a man and I love it,” Haylock said. “I’m often asked what I dress as for Halloween, but I don’t get dressed for Halloween since Halloween is every day for me.”
Two of Haylock’s close friends and fellow drag queens, Shangela and Willam Belli, stole scenes in “A Star is Born.”
“The cool thing is that the director (Bradley Cooper) let them improvise during their scenes in ‘A Star is Born.’ He kept what they did in the movie. People loved it and drag queens are being accepted, which is amazing.”
WHAT: Bianca Del Rio: It’s Jester Joke Tour
WHERE: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 24
TICKETS: $39.50, $119 Royal Court VIP, $199 Imperial Court VIP; Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org/event/bianca-del-rio/ ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Thebiancadelrio.com/