If there’s one thing RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio is known for, it’s her unfiltered comedy. The queen has famously been unafraid to tackle almost any subject when doing stand-up shows, ranging from politics to gender and even race. But now it seems that the drag star has crossed a line, even for some of her own fans.
During her set at Montréal Pride last week, Del Rio made fun of the queens of season 10, saying that they were “all crying” throughout the season. “You got the one going ‘Ugh, I’m fat.’ Then you got the other one going ‘Ugh, I’m a black queen,'” she said, referencing season 10 contestants Eureka O’Hara and The Vixen. Del Rio then mentioned a standout moment when contestant Blair St. Clair opened up about being sexually assaulted. “Then you got that other bitch, ‘I was raped!’ No, fuck you,” the queen said. “You notice she wasn’t raped until she was in the bottom two? Think about that, bitch — that’s fucking strategy … And if you weren’t raped, remember this — you’re ugly.”
Some of the queen’s fans took to social media to express their disappointment in Del Rio’s choice to make fun of a rape victim, saying that making fun of victims of rape isn’t productive or funny and just adds to continued stereotypes about victims. Others defended Del Rio, saying that this brand of the queen’s dark, acerbic comedy shouldn’t be censored simply because others don’t find it funny.
Eventually, St. Clair herself weighed in on the topic. Without calling out Del Rio by name, the queen pointed out that when someone makes a rape joke, they are contributing to a larger problem. “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,’” she wrote on Twitter. “It is not. Rape jokes contribute to rape culture.”
Montréal Pride also chimed in on the conversation, saying that they were publicly distancing themselves from Del Rio’s jokes. “The Montréal Pride Festival would like to severely disassociate itself from certain remarks made during the Drag Superstars show on Thursday, August 16th, 2018,” the statement on their Facebook page read. “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.”
Del Rio commented on the controversy in an exclusive statement to Hornet, defending her position and saying that she wasn’t claiming that St. Clair’s story was untrue or unfounded. “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,” she said. “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.”
Read Blair St. Clair’s tweet and Montréal Pride’s statement below:
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.
— Blair St. Clair (@BlairStClair) August 18, 2018
This article has been updated to include Del Rio’s statement and to better contextualize the comedy set.