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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Former Champ Bianca Del Rio on Hosting ‘The Pit Stop’ and Her New Animated Christmas Short (EXCLUSIVE)

Bianca Del Rio
Courtesy of Paramount

It’s coming up on a decade since “RuPaul’s Drag Race” crowned Bianca Del Rio the winner of Season 6, and next year, the Emmy-award-winning show will celebrate its Her-storic 200th episode.

“I can’t even imagine how many queens there have been,” Del Rio tells Variety. “But it is mind-boggling to think about, because for me, in many ways it feels like yesterday.”

Over the past year, Del Rio has been on tour and now has been confirmed as the host of “The Pit Stop,” where she and a guest will recap and review the most recent episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 15. She’s also in an animated short special, “Bianca Saves Christmas.” Below, Variety caught up with Del Rio to tease her new recap show and animated short.

Let’s start with “The Pit Stop” and Season 15 of “Drag Race.” How did this opportunity come to be?

Can you believe it’s 15 seasons? I’m amazed. I’m from the original Season 6, which is crazy pants. I’ve been asked a few times if I’d be interested in doing it, but this was the first time that the stars and my schedule aligned for me to make this happen.

I must be honest, and I’ve said it many times before, that I have not kept up with all 15 seasons and all 96 franchises. But this was one time I was having a moment to sit down and actually watch the show, revisit it and enjoy it again. I also give my critiques in my usual cheeky manner, which is exciting for me because I really haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch it uninterrupted. And this is the first time I’m doing it. I told everyone the reason why I’m doing it is that I’m being paid. So that’s how it’s working for me.

What are you most looking forward to about hosting “The Pit Stop”?

What I am allowed to say is that I’m amazed at the global phenomenon that the show is. As I said, I’m from Season 6. I remember starting Instagram and getting Twitter for the first time, and seeing how much the world has changed, especially with so many people on TikTok. This season starts with 16 queens, so it’s been amazing to map out who’s who and to keep track. It’s crazy to say, but I must admit that as cynical as I can be, I have fallen back in love with the show again. So, I might not be as nasty as I usually am. This one is really tugging on me.

The show has come so far since that first season and even Season 6. It’s really in the mainstream now.

I started in bars and cabaret theaters and spaces where drag was accepted, and those were the only places you could really find it at the time. So, to see drag explode on this global level for the opportunities that I’ve received with getting to travel and that it’s broadcast in every country and every place and everybody can watch, it’s truly amazing.

“Bianca Saves Christmas” is a lot of fun. It’s about Christmas cheer plummeting to new lows, and Bianca Del Rio is the holiday’s last hope in an animated special set in Palm Springs. How did it come together?

I have not seen it. They love you more than me, but I was excited to get to do it. When they reached out and said, “Bianca Saves Christmas,” I thought how does this work? When it comes to Christmas, I’m more of a Grinch. But they came to me with this great story and asked if I’d be interested in doing it. So, I recorded it in the middle of a tour break earlier this year.

I’m so excited it’s coming out, and another huge compliment to me was getting to have the fabulous Cheyenne Jackson as my butler. I’ll have him in real life. But really, it was very sweet for him to agree to do it because he’s a lovely guy.

How much fun did you have doing this special?

I was amazed that someone wanted to do something with me about Christmas. I had recently moved to Palm Springs, so it seems fitting. Also, that someone can take this little bit of information and make it come to life, was fabulous. I’m just excited to be a part of this new Christmas tradition where. I’m helping out the world and Palm Springs, one Christmas at a time.

And this isn’t the first time you’ve done animation — you did “Drag Tots,” which is on WOW Presents Plus. Will there be more?

I think there is more “Drag Tots” coming our way. They [World of Wonder] always call and say what they’ve got going on. They’ve asked about availability, so I’m not sure which project it is because once they know you’re free, they reach out. So [producers] Fenton [Bailey] and Randy [Barbato] are on the radar and hopefully, there’ll be more soon.

What else is on the horizon for you?

We have the new season on Jan. 6 and “The Pit Stop,” which will be on MTV and the “Drag Race” YouTube channel the next day, so everyone can see that. You will see me for sure.

I will be starting on our third installment of “Hurricane Bianca,” which I’ll be filming early next year. We were planning to shoot that before the pandemic, but life went a bit crazy. We’ve only just worked out scheduling on that. I’m excited to work with some new people and some old — not old people in general, but old people I’ve worked with.

And there are a lot of opportunities in the process of being announced, so I can’t give that away. But it’s the year of film and television. I must say, it’s great, because for the past eight or nine years I’ve been on the road. So, this year of getting to do some exciting and fun projects that I don’t normally get to do is great.

Speaking of being on the road and touring, given the rise of anti-LGBTQ protests around the country, have you had to increase your security?

I’ve been a bit lucky because I was on the road before this hate erupted again, so I didn’t experience it. But, I have many friends that are out on the road now. I’m just shocked, appalled and saddened by the level of hate that’s in the world.

Watch “Bianca Saves Christmas” below.