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Yesterday saw Montréal Pride 2018 come to a close, having taken place throughout the city from Aug. 9–19. Events during the Pride celebration included everything from the annual march to a festival featuring performances by Fischerspooner, among others. But one event in particular that has had people talking is a Thursday show called Drag Superstars, featuring a dozen RuPaul’s Drag Race alums and hosted by the always ‘no holds barred’ Bianca Del Rio. Following that show, the drag superstar speaks to Hornet offering a response to the recent backlash to a few Bianca Del Rio Montréal Pride jokes.
The jokes in question concerned Drag Race contestant Blair St. Clair, who in the most recent season’s sixth episode recounted a story from the runway about being sexually assaulted. Del Rio joked to the crowd that St. Clair’s story of sexual assault was a strategic one.
Having already poked fun at several of the Season 10 queens and the drama they brought to the runway (“Unh, I’m fat” of Eureka O’Hara, “Oh, I’m a black queen” of The Vixen), Del Rio said of Blair St. Clair’s televised revelation, “And then you’ve got that other bitch: ‘I was raped!’ You know that she wasn’t raped until she was in the bottom two! Think about that, bitch. That’s strategy! That’s fucking strategy!”
Del Rio joked further, “Oh, fuck you, rape is funny if you hadn’t had it,” and, “If you weren’t raped, remember this: You’re ugly.”
The jokes — which are largely par for the course during a Bianca Del Rio set, which is typically characterized by crude humor and controversial, dark comedy — were met with audible gasps from some of the crowd, though the rest of Bianca Del Rio’s set was largely met with applause. Partial footage of the Bianca Del Rio Montréal Pride set, including the Blair St. Clair jokes at issue, can be watched here.
Speaking with Hornet about the controversy that has since erupted following these jokes, Bianca Del Rio says:
Look, my point was everyone was crying on the last season of Drag Race to win over the judges and “save yourself from elimination.” I wasn’t questioning the validity of anyone’s personal struggles, but bringing it up right before you “lip sync for your life” was strategic … in my opinion.
Back in the day, when a man in a wig had to “lip sync for their life,” they relied on a wig reveal, rose petals or picking up their opponent and twirling them around. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the old days when drag was fun, not personal.
Del Rio tells Hornet it’s “pretty obvious” that Montréal Pride seemed to bring out a more sensitive audience, and asked whether the controversy surrounding these jokes is indicative of a broader “politically correct” cultural shift, Del Rio says, “Call it political correctness, social justice or whatever else. Bottom line is there will always be people who don’t agree with you. That’s life. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why there’s coffee.”
Following the incident, Blair St. Clair took to Twitter to respond, though he didn’t acknowledge Bianca Del Rio by name: “In the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes, but people persist in thinking that making rape or sexual assault jokes is ‘comedy.’ It is not. Rape jokes contribute to rape culture.”
The city’s Pride organization itself also weighed in on the Bianca Del Rio Montréal jokes at issue, commenting, “The Montréal Pride Festival would like to severely disassociate itself from certain remarks made during the Drag Superstars show. … The approach of certain sensitive themes, presented in the form of so-called jokes, in no way reflects the policies of our organization and we apologize to anyone who has experienced discomfort due to these events.”
Asked whether he has any reaction to this formal statement from Montréal Pride, Bianca Del Rio remains steadfast in the defense of his role as a comedian and entertainer: “Not at all.”
What do you think of the controversial Bianca Del Rio Montréal Pride joke at issue?
Photos of Bianca Del Rio by Jovanni Jimenez-Pedraza