ACCORDING to Bianca Del Rio, drag queens often have a long, drawn-out story about how their stage names came about.

But for her, it was an impulsive moment.

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“I didn’t have a name and a friend in a bar once said I looked like Bianca,” she recalled.

“It wasn’t that serious and it wasn’t that thought out, it just kind of happened in the moment and it stuck.”

Since that moment, Del Rio — the alter ego of Ray Haylock — has gone on to become a drag queen superstar, winning the 2014 season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Fresh from sell-out shows in the US, she’s now set to bring her Comedy Special show to Australia.

The self-proclaimed “clown in a dress” told the Star Observer about her excitement for the national tour, which includes a stop over in Sydney as part of the Mardi Gras festival.

“I’ve seen some photos [of previous Mardi Gras], I’ve seen some beautiful people and some lovely costumes,” the 39-year-old said.

“I’m curious to see what you have to offer.”

Working with Australia’s own drag superstar and fellow Drag Race contestant Courtney Act, this is also the first time Del Rio will do a full one-hour show in Australia.

It’s a far cry from her early days in New Orleans’ gay bars, where Del Rio began her “amazing journey” as a 20-year-old.

“It started kind of small, I was lip-syncing and performing in a bar, and then I started hosting it. It went from one night a week to five nights a week. Then when I was 30 I moved to New York,” she recalled.

“I had been hired and fired by everybody in New York by that time. I am far more appreciative of the opportunity at my age now then when I was 20. I’m well aware that [RuPaul’s Drag Race] was totally the golden ticket.

“It has definitely shifted my life in a great way, but if it wasn’t for moments I have had previously I probably wouldn’t have been as appreciative.”

Del Rio has also been hailed as the next Joan Rivers, which she considers “a huge compliment”.

“I adore Joan, what a brilliant talent she was,” she said.

Speaking on Australia’s drag queen culture, Del Rio said The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert had a major influence on her drag character.

“Priscilla was quite fascinating as it was definitely the style of drag I like, so it was something that always stayed with me,” she said.

“It made me think I was on the right path, if they can do it I can do it.”

She also loved her audience from Down Under: “Australians have the tendency to get the in-your-face sense of humour.”

“I’m excited to be down there, I’m excited to go. Even though I heard koalas give you chlamydia.”

Bianca Del Rio’s Comedy Special is on February 27 at Sydney Theatre. Details and tickets: mardigras.org.au/events/bianca-del-rios-comedy-special

This story was first published in fg, the Star Observer’s festival guide for the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s available now. Click here to read the e-book version.

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