Bianca Del Rio has come under fire on social media after joking about rape during Montreal Pride.
Del Rio has built a career on her quick wit, frequently shocking jokes, and ‘takes no prisoners’ attitude when it comes to dishing out insults during her shows. But the RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 winner has been heavily criticized after joking about season 10 queen Blair St. Clair’s sexual assault.
St. Clair, facing elimination during the sixth episode, was asked about her drag always being pretty and upbeat. During an emotional breakdown on stage, she revealed that it stemmed from the trauma of being raped at a college party, telling the judges “I urge to find daintiness, because I feel dirty at times.”
During her Pride set, Del Rio mentioned St. Clair’s assault, and said that it was “strategy” that she only spoke about it while facing elimination from the competition.
“Seriously, I don’t even want to talk about season 10 because every fucking bitch cried every fucking episode,” she said. “Did you see that? Every episode! It’s her fat ass going ‘Ugh I’m fat’ and…then you’ve got that other bitch, ‘I was raped!’
“No, fuck you. You notice she wasn’t raped until she was in the bottom two? Think about that, bitch, that’s strategy. That’s fucking strategy,” Del Rio continued. “Oh fuck you, rape is funny if you haven’t had it. And if you weren’t raped, remember this: you’re ugly.”
Watch a clip of Del Rio’s set below:
Montreal Pride distanced themselves from Del Rio’s comments in a post on Facebook.
“The Montréal Pride Festival would like to severely disassociate itself from certain remarks made during the Drag Superstars show on Thursday, August 16th, 2018,” they wrote. “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.
They added: “We will also take the necessary steps to ensure that such situations do not happen again.”
Blair St. Clair didn’t directly respond to Del Rio, but referenced her comments in a tweet.
“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. “It is not. Rape jokes contribute to rape culture.”
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.
Reaction among those who watched Del Rio’s set live was split.
“As someone who was there, the situation felt really uncomfortable,” one Reddit user noted, to which another responded adding, “In my section at least the joke flopped, it was crickets the whole set.”
However, one Reddit user contested the negative reaction, saying, “[Where] I was at, people were doubled over with laughter the entire night. I left the event hearing nothing but ‘Bianca killed it!’ from everyone I knew who attended and didn’t hear anything negative about it until MTL Pride posted their apology on facebook.”
Responding to St. Clair on Twitter, many users slammed Del Rio for joking about sexual assault.
“I was raped and to hear the joke that bianca said teared me apart,” one user wrote. Another added: “It’s hard to see someone who I respect do something stupid and rude, but even harder to see someone who I respect be hurt by a careless joke.”
However, there were some who disagreed with St. Clair’s response. Noting that they had been assaulted multiple times, Twitter user @MissLovelyMonet said, “Everything in life has some sort of humour, a lot of it comes from a dark place. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If I didn’t laugh, I’d be in the grave.”
As of press time, Del Rio has yet to publicly comment on the matter.
UPDATE: Del Rio responded to the controversy in an interview with Hornet:
“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.”
Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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