Mother Has Arrived: A Review of Hurricane Bianca

For most Drag Race divas, their winnings are quickly spent on a dance single, a garish video, and a clusterfuck with a gaggle of rent boys. Thankfully Bianca Del Rio is not your typical queen.  Vying for legendary status, Bianca has ditched the usual disco orgies and taken a completely different tack to post-Drag Race success.  Enter Hurricane Bianca, her cinematic debut.

Most gays know Bianca Del Rio from her dominating win on Drag Race season 6, but Bianca was a star long before she set foot in the Interior Illusions Lounge.  Bianca had begun crowdfunding for Hurricane Bianca years ago, even before she ever auditioned for the great race.  After a plethora of fundraising campaigns, and a hefty paycheck from Mother Ru, Hurricane Bianca has finally arrived and it’s every bit the campy spectacle we hoped it to be.  Equal parts To Wong Foo,Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, Hurricane Bianca is an ultra-campy, feather light satire of employment discrimination and small town homophobia.

Del Rio plays the deliciously nerdy Richard Martinez, a NYC school teacher who moves to Texas for a teaching gig, only to be promptly fired when he’s outed as a homo. Enraged, Martinez teams up with a local trans woman to exact revenge on the town who wronged him.  Martinez returns to school disguised as Bianca and naturally hilarity ensues and hijinks commence.  There are gags, satire, drama, intrigue, and even a bit of skin via co-star Denton Blane Everett’s smooth twunk body.

In short, it’s good.

While there’s no doubt that Bianca is hilarious, I wondered, is she glamorous enough to be a movie star? Visually Bianca is best known for serving Mrs. Potato Head realness in a 90’s ball gown, so when I heard that she was going to star in a gay version of Mrs. Doubtfire, I had doubts that she could ever be that passable.  I’m glad to say I was wrong.  Though I didn’t think it possible, through the magic of dedicated hair, make up and wardrobe, Bianca looks the best she ever has.  She almost looks good!

Speaking of fashion disasters, Rachel Dratch is a sight to behold as the Kim Davis-esque tyrant Deborah Ward.  Dratch’s constipated, authoritarian pearl-clutching is one of the best parts of the movie. She is the perfect overdrawn villain and she has a wardrobe to match.   It’s astonishing that the filmmakers ever managed to find such a thorough collection of tacky, dated selections of Sears’s formalwear.  They must have raided Lady Bunny’s closet.  The costumers deserve an Oscar, or at least a Grabby, for Dratch’s incredible ensembles.

Del Rio is joined by Drag Race alums Willam, Shangela, Joslyn Fox, and Alyssa Edwards in the film.  I have to say, Bianca put these queens to work: Willam plays a slutty himbo, Shangela plays a sassy drag queen, Joslyn plays a bar queen named Joslyn, and Alyssa Edwards plays a drawling southern chanteuse.  Astonishing.  I’ve never seen such range.  Fuck Meryl Streep; these queens are redefining versatility.  Someone better get a Golden Globe out of this or I’m rioting.

Look, this isn’t Annie Hall or The Royal Tenebaums, but it is better than White Chicks, and that’s the standard by which I judge drag queen comedies.  The film doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know about homophobia or employment discrimination, but it’s funny and hopefully it will reignite a conversation about ENDA in the complacent, post-marriage equality gay community.

It’s good to see a queen broaden the scope of what Drag Race girls can do.  Hopefully her example will encourage other Drag Race winners to create their own productions.  While I won’t hold my breath for Tyra Sanchez’ film debut (sorry, a webcam show doesn’t count as a movie), it’ll be interesting to see how other Drag Race winners up their game following Bianca’s success.  Hurricane Bianca was almost entirely crowdfunded and it shows what can be accomplished when the drag community comes together to support a project.  This is only the beginning.  Picture it: Bob the Drag Queen in B.A.P.S. 2, Sharon Needles in Bathhouse of Horror, Kim Chi in The Joy Fuck Club.  Get those Kickstarter drives going ladies and make it happen!

Octopussy: Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race

After a somewhat rocky seventh season, RuPaul’s Drag Race has returned to its former stellar form.  What can account for this change?  Ultimately I feel that this season saw a return to the classic tropes of drag.  After much deliberation I have determined the four main ways that RuPaul got back to her roots in season 8:

1. Bad Teeth

There is perhaps no greater indicator of potential drag greatness than a busted set of chompers.  I’ve found that pretty teeth make for pretty boring drag.  I want some funk in my drag queens, perhaps even a bit of stank, and there is no better representation of this than an overgrowth of plaque.  This season didn’t settle for just a Jiggly Caliente or a Trinity Bonet.  From Bob to Kim Chi to Chi Chi to Robbie and various shades of yellow in between, this season was a nonstop dental train wreck and, not coincidentally, an unmitigated success.  At this point I have to assume that having stage 1 of gingivitis at minimum is a requirement for any future drag racers.

2. Bottoms By The Barrelful

Seriously, what the fuck is the point of an all bottom Pit Crew?

3. Bitchery

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of season 7 was the lack of a clear villain.  Sure, Violet and Ginger were kind of cunts, but there wasn’t a readily identifiable villain to move the narrative forward.  Enter Derrick Barry.  Granted, she was clueless, often basic, severely limited and sometimes utterly aggravating, but she fulfilled the villain role splendidly.  Whiny, entitled, and stuffed precariously full of shit, it was impossible not to hate her.  Being a basic white bitch will henceforth be known as Popping a Barry.

4. A Satisfying Narrative

Bob’s win brought the season full circle.  She had entered strong, clashed with Derrick, vanquished Derrick, stumbled briefly and then regained form to end up on top.  With her win, Bob’s story came to a neatly polished arc, thus providing the complete, satisfying narrative that was missing from season 7.  As I said before with Bianca, Bob didn’t win just by being the most talented, she won by being the smartest.  She knew this gig inside out and with every wisecrack, every side eye and every perfectly executed gesture (exclamations of “Purse first!” will echo on in gay bars for years to come) Bob cemented her victory with each passing week.  What’s more, unlike her predecessor, Bob’s victory felt like it really meant something.  I so rarely say this about a fellow transvestite, but that bitch has a hell of a lot of integrity.

Thanks for the memories, ladies.  Before I go, let’s open the library one more time…

Laila McQueen: Sorry, but anyone who bases her makeup on Marlon Wayans in White Chicks deserves to be in the bottom.

Dax ExclamationPoint: Live long and prosper, busted one.

Cynthia Lee Fontaine: Why the hell do bottoms get silicone ass implants?  That’s just an ER trip waiting to happen.

Naysha Lopez: Serving banality.

Acid Betty: That lip ring is taking me on a journey to the darker side of 2003.  That’s a flashback I could do without.

Robbie Turner: Can we start a Kickstarter for her braces?

Thorgy Thor: Poor Thorgy tried too damn hard.  She didn’t have to waste all that effort playing Michael Jackson on Snatch Game.  With that hair she could have just gone as Rachel Dolezal.

Derrick Barry: She’s awfully uptight for someone who spends so much time taking two dicks up her ass.

Chi Chi DeVayne: Anyone who eats possum is good people.  Know this.

Naomi Smalls: I’m not buying the Naomi Campbell illusion until she starts beating people with her phone.  She can start with Derrick.

Kim Chi: That runway walk is every bit as sweet and charming as the acrid, pickled vegetable that bears her name.

Bob: Congratulations on your victory, Bob.  Here’s a beauty blender.  USE IT.