There’s a storm brewing. It has the aesthetic of a clown, a killer contour, and the fierce comedic chops of Joan Rivers… if Joan Rivers were a 42-year-old man in a dress. In short: the second coming of Hurricane Bianca (subtitled From Russia with Hate) has made landfall, and its hilarious star is ready to blow that wig right off your head with the funniest film of the year so far.
“I think we’ve elevated the second film,” RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio — who stars in the cinematic sequel to her 2016 big screen hit — tells EW of the film in the candid video interview above. “We have great cameos from some fabulous people like Janeane Garofolo, also from some of our Drag Race alumni, [like] Mrs. Kasha Davis and Darienne Lake. And we also got Wanda Sykes, so that upped the ante… and the budget. And we went to Russia… slash Brooklyn. You don’t know the difference. It smelled the same.”
Hurricane Bianca: From Russia with Hate picks up shortly after the events of the first film, as Texas’ most vile, homophobic vice principal Deborah Ward (Rachel Dratch) is released from prison. But she has a bone to pick — particularly with Del Rio, the drag alter ego of one of her former school’s flamboyant teachers, Richard Martinez (Del Rio, credited by his real name, Roy Haylock), who had her arrested for having sex with a student. Thus, she sets out to lure him to Russia, where she’s hoping he’ll meet his doom at the hands of the nation’s anti-gay agenda.
“You think America’s f—d up? Russia’s far worse, I can tell you that,” Del Rio says. “We really lucked out with Russia, because in the beginning it wasn’t such a big deal [in the news today], and we only chose Russia because of [costar] Katya, and it all kind of worked out from there. So the fact that all of this is actually going on in the world right now, we really benefitted from.”
The film is also better, she says, thanks to a slew of notable guest stars, which also includes (in addition to Garofolo and Sykes) Cheyenne Jackson and Sally Jessy Raphael.
“We were very lucky to get Sally Jessy Raphael, and the second exciting part was that she was still alive,” Del Rio jokes about the former talk show host. “You can’t tell in the movie though. She was very serious. Actually, when she was on set, I felt the need to talk to her about my problems even though she didn’t ask.”
As for Garofolo, who plays a nefarious Russian scientist tasked with enforcing a crude form of conversion therapy on imprisoned gays, Del Rio says she was “a great sport” about working on such an unorthodox scene, which may or may not end with a band of horny rats lusting after her mouth.
“Here she is in… a jail cell with a half-naked boy, drag queen, and rats,” she remembers. “To me, that’s a typical Saturday night. But for her, it was great.”
Dratch was game to get down and dirty, too. Particularly when it came time to “draggify” her look for the film’s gut-busting climax.
“We were very lucky to have a fabulous hair and makeup team, and they said, ‘We’re going to make Rachel look like you!'” Del Rio playfully remembers. “And I thought it was so cool! Then I saw Rachel and thought, ‘Is that what I look like? Problems.'”
But Del Rio’s biggest accomplishment as a performer, she says, was inspired by fellow Drag Race fan-favorite Katya, whose Russia-inspired persona serves as her character’s love interest.
“It was very disturbing because I like Katya as a friend, but I’m not interested in Katya, so that’s probably the only time in the film where I’m acting,” she admits. “And I use that term loosely. Like Katya’s a—hole. I’m kidding. We didn’t have sex. We did not.”
If, for some reason, you “hate” the resulting chemistry?
“Don’t blame me,” Del Rio finishes. “Blame Katya.”
Hurricane Bianca: From Russia with Hate is available now on digital retailers (including iTunes). Watch EW’s interview with Del Rio above.