Live!

The night Miss Bianca Del Rio learned the Mormon ritual of floating

She is resurrected from her crypt for “Dead Inside.”

By Blair Howell, with Michelle Blackham

STAND-UP “Hello, Salt Lake City!” Miss Bianca Del Rio bellowed as she entered the Eccles Theater full house, garishly swathed in a black-sequined caftan gown and matching Norma Desmon turban, both adorned with hideous fluorescent circle appliques. Another of the over-the-top-stunning outrageous trademark garments she stitches.

Amid thunderous applause, “You can clap all you want. I have a drink to drink,” then sips an onstage cocktail. The appreciative applause continues. “How the fuck are you tonight? I’m so fucking excited to be in Salt Lake City. Not because there’s anything special about Salt Lake City,” as a knowing audience roars with laughter. She will soon discover something special about Utah — Provo in particular.

“Well, well, well. I hope you bitches are ready!”

Concertgoers recalled Miss Bianca’s familiar self-empowering RuPaul’s Drag Race quote: “I’m not here to please everyone, I’m here to slay,” which encapsulates her unapologetic and fierce approach to life.
No topic is taboo, no insult too insidious, no offense too offensive. Everyone’s favorite glamorous drag clown has zero shame.

Bianca Del Rio is back on the road, and no one is safe — thank gawd! Cancer patient Devin, who selected a Miss Bianca show, was chided for her “Make-A-Wish” dying wish request. Then mocked unceasingly for deciding on her live act rather than an expense-paid Walt Disney World adventure. Endlessly mocked her, better said.

“That was a fucking bad decision,” or something similar. I was too enamored to take notes. Actually, my friend Michelle Blackham needed to point out to me that her name is “Bianca,” not Blanca, the name of my parents’ former chain-smoking housekeeper.

I could have sat in the Eccles Barn all night, just gleefully watching her half-scripted, half-improvised comedy show, but too entranced to take notes. Thanks to my friend Michelle for helping me write this not-nearly-complete summary.

The essence of the side-splitting act of our favorite glamorous drag clown is guileful jokes — embraced with a sledgehammer — on pop culture, encompassing riffs on comparisons of Beyoncé’s “Beyhive” to Taylor’s “Swifties.” (What should we call ourselves? Biancavites? Del Rioists? Blunt Blunts?)

Our Miss Bianca had been doing drag for nearly 20 years and almost gave it up before she won Season 6 of Drag Race in 2014 at the age of 37. Now, a decade later, she’s been in movies where she stars as the main character (including Hurricane Bianca and its sequel), written a book, sold out both Carnegie Hall and Wembley Arena — the first queen to ever perform in the storied venues.

Now, she’s on her sixth world tour, titled “Dead Inside.” There are 60 stops across the United States and Canada, each sold out, according to her website. Her next venue is San Francisco’s Warfield Concert Hall, aptly named for her war-like onslaught.

Everyone’s cherished portion, no doubt, was the Q&A with the audience, where Miss Bianca had the lights turned on so we could feel part of the conversation.

“Are you familiar with ‘floating’ and ‘jumping’?” she was asked on a question card written previously by an audience fan. And then was taken aback by the answer. The BYU-centric practice involves the insertion of the Mormon male penis into the Mormon female vagina on a bed — but without thrusting, thereby side-stepping any breach of the coveted Law of Chastity commandment. Then, a third “jumper” bounces on the bed to stimulate both orgasm-deprived participants. Bianca then stored the card with the question into her bra strap for later reference.

Leading us to wonder that her next concert will begin with, “Let me tell you what’s going on in Provo, Utah.”

The show kicked off with another iconic NYC drag queen, Miss Sherry Vine, the undisputed parody queen, serving up a hilariously twisted take on popular tunes.

With her razor-sharp wit, she transformed beloved classics songs into abrasive anthems of absurdity — from “Jolene” (“Hole Clean”) to “Good Morning, Baltimore” (“I’m a Whore”), and even Leonard Cohen’s hymn-like “Hallelujah” transformed to “How I Blew Ya.” Lyrics: “One hand must swirl around the tip, the other hand pinches the nip,” followed by “You straight girls, take notice.”

No song is safe from Miss Sherry’s irreverent rewrites. We weren’t prepared, as we may never again hear these songs the same way.

► Thebiancadelrio.com, for more “Dead Inside” tour dates

THEATER ON LITTLE SCREEN The multiple Tony-nominated Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch revival mirrors playwright Ossie Davis’ personal journey, growing up in racially segregated Georgia, to challenge oppressive white authority in the South and beyond. A Tony winner for Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. stars alongside infinitely enjoyable Kara Young as Lutiebelle. Her character is a rich creation, sweet and hungry, down-home and dirty. 

Premieres Friday, May 24 on PBS, on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS app

Jay O. Sanders, Billy Eugene Jones, Kara Young,
and Leslie Odom Jr. in the Broadway revival
“Purlie Victorious” to be broadcast on PBS
Photo: Marc J. Franklin

You’ll remember that Audra McDonald is the winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy awards, and an Emmy. The divine songstress performs a repertoire of classic Broadway songs in Audra McDonald at the London Palladium, including “I Am What I Am,” “Cornet Man,” “Summertime,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Recorded from the London Palladium, musical director Andy Einhorn leads the 40-piece London Musical Theatre Orchestra to accompany.

Premieres Friday, May 17 on PBS, on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS app

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