As the current health crisis continues to wreak havoc across the globe, there is at least one constant to bring comfort to the home-sheltering masses: Bianca Del Rio and Lady Bunny have not lost their senses of humor.
“Who knew that Valentina would be such a trendsetter?” Bunny said of the past RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, who was eliminated after refusing to remove her mask on the runway.
This Saturday, the drag comedians are cohosting Werq the World Live Stream. The streaming event features a starry lineup, but it benefits local drag performers impacted by the epidemic, which has shuttered the physical venues where most queens make their coin.
“Everyone's events have been canceled. So not only is this a way for us to put on a sparkling and fun show — with the exception of Bianca — it's a way to reach people who are quarantined in their homes and entertain them,” said Bunny. The roster of featured performers: Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Gigi Goode, Kameron Michaels, Kim Chi, Plastique Del Rio, Yvie Oddly, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, and Violet Chachki.
Bunny also praised Brandon Voss, Werq the World’s producer, for the decision to donate a portion of proceeds to local queens — as well as 100 percent of any tips donated via Venmo during the stream. “Everyone is working paycheck to paycheck, and the paychecks have now stopped for anyone in the nightclub industry. So that's a very sisterly thing,” Bunny said.
Bianca was just relieved her schedule had freed up to participate. “What else am I gonna do? I've seen everything already on Netflix, for Christ's sake,” quipped Del Rio on her hosting duties. “Let's be real. The coronavirus is horrible and the fact is that the only thing that's worse than coronavirus is a drag show. So this is your option,” she added.
During the lockdown, Del Rio has also done a thorough spring cleaning of her Palm Springs, Calif., residence, where in addition to combing her wigs she “found quite a few dead bodies in my closet.” Why Palm Springs, by the way? “It's the only place I could move where I actually look young,” Del Rio said.
So what can viewers expect for the price of admission? The show, said Del Rio, is “like we do every time Bunny and I work together — she ups her medication and I start drinking at noon. And that's it. That's the show, honey. We don't know what's gonna happen or what's going to come out of our mouth. It's like watching a Trump press conference. Anything can happen, and it's gonna be a bunch of fucking lies and us constantly talking about how fabulous we are. That's it.”
“This is ideal for the lazy audience,” Del Rio added. “You sit on your couch; you know you can read us to filth. We can't hear you. That’s like pure fun for everyone.”
“Bianca said that social distancing is easy when everyone hates you,” Bunny said in reference to the practice recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to curb the spread of the virus.
“She's used to an empty crowd,” Bianca quipped back. “So this is kind of perfect for her.”
In fact, the livestream will cover quite a distance. Performers will beam in from New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Denver — another example of entertainers taking advantage of social media to reach fans as stay-at-home orders remain in fact throughout most of the country. Oddly, the reigning America’s Next Drag Superstar, is relieved, said the hosts — she will now be exempt from taking photographs with fans.
However, not every moment speaking with the legendary drag comics is a jeu de mots. Bunny discussed with sadness how her friend Nashom Wooden, also known by the drag name Mona Foot, died from the novel coronavirus.
“My friend looked to be the picture of health and was 50 years old. So it's not just killing seniors,” Bunny stressed. “It's something that can be deadly.”
“These are sad times,” Bunny continued, “and I do believe that they will get better. This is a project that keeps me feeling like not all is lost and at some point you will be performing [in person] again.”
Drag holds a special place in the LGBTQ community, particularly in times of crisis. It should be no surprise, then, that the number of viewers of Drag Race, the VH1 reality competition where most of the entertainers became names, has surged as queer people look for both an escape and a sense of connection.
“We need entertainment,” Del Rio said. “And if you can't get entertainment, then you get me and Bunny.”
“Laughter is the best medicine,” Bunny asserted. “Connecting with people is what we love. And if people like me have been cooped up in their homes, it's wonderful to have a big drag show that you might see in a big venue that you can no longer go to piped right into your home. We're all finding different ways to reach our fans.”
“Just remember, as you're watching, I am not wearing any clothes from the waist down,” Del Rio added.
At present, with the world that way it is, the only gig in the real world Bunny said she can look forward to is “blowing my landlord through a hole in my mask.”
“I'm glad you're wearing the mask, because when you wear the mask, that means that your mustache won't tickle his dick,” Del Rio said.
“Well, safety first,” Bunny said.
Werq the World Live Stream, presented by Voss Events and hosted by Bianca Del Rio and Lady Bunny, airs Saturday. See it at VossEvents.com and watch the trailer below.