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Philip Minaker

Philip Minaker

Philip Minaker has been a regular contributor to since its inception in 2009.  Many of his pieces on fashion, style and pop culture for have also been reposted on numerous sites around the world. 

Being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1983 (when it was literally a death sentence) he initially chose to keep it to himself and continued to forge an extensive career in the fashion industry. It was not until the death of his grandmother (the love of his life), also in 2009, that he became comfortable with the idea of coming out regarding his HIV status. “For me, it was yet another ordeal I had to learn to live with while I continued to hope for better days ahead. Like other unpredictable and disturbing events that had occurred in my life, I have done my best to not let it fully define or consume me. I have however, recognized it as a part of who I am and made the necessary concessions over the years in my efforts to live a fulfilling, productive and happy life.” Philip has now been “undetectable” for nearly ten years. 

He officially moved from Winnipeg to Toronto in 1990 and continues to make a life for himself, which is an ongoing work in progress. Recently, Philip chose to combine his professional and personal passions into the pet industry by forging a unique ambience and perspective in managing and buying for an independently owned full service pet shop, naturally, right in the heart of downtown Toronto. He is having the time of his life!


Reality check

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 Written by // Philip Minaker - Style Categories // Arts and Entertainment, Performances, Theatre, Philip Minaker

Phillip Minaker on drag sensation Roy Haylock, better known as his stage persona, Bianca Del Rio.

Reality check

“If Phyllis Diller and Don Rickles had a love child it more than likely would have been Roy Haylock” . 

Try as you might, it is difficult to name more than a dozen that have participated in a talent based reality TV show that have managed to attain staying power and international acclaim in the last ten years. Granted, there are many that have capitalized on their exposure and taken a huge giant step forward in their given field but stardom in the true sense of the word has eluded most. Season after season, on a plethora of shows, we have watched many wannabe’s arrive and then just as quickly fade into the sunset.  

Those that have endured have used their stint as a launching pad to showcase their talent, reach out to a wider audience and then run with it whether they have won or just made their presence known. Singers Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, ventriloquist/puppeteer Terry Fator and comedian Amy Schumer are a few that have managed to gain global status as entertainers in their given fields. It’s a testament to their talent and passion to entertain rather that has given them staying power. 

The latest rising star to surface is Roy Haylock, better known for his stage persona, Bianca Del Rio. Comparisons to Joan Rivers are rampant. His guest stint on Joan’s internet show, “In Bed with Joan Rivers” (see below) is absolutely hilarious. Shortly before her unexpected passing, this whacko twosome created a sensation on YouTube. It's highly recommended viewing when you need some unbridled laughter.  

Variety Magazine listed Bianca as one of the top ten comics to watch from the class of 2015. The possibilities of watching Bianca in all her glory are abundant. from a variety of current options on the internet to her live comedy special, “Rolodex of Hate” that is continuing to sell out wherever she lands around the globe.  A featured film, “Hurricane Bianca” is slated to debut in 2016. A televised special of the “Rolodex of Hate” show and a new global stand up show are sure to keep Bianca’s star rising. 

After nearly twenty years as a local drag sensation, first in New Orleans and then New York, she ventured to go where many a drag queen has gone before - Ru Paul’s Drag Race. There, as a season six contestant. he brought something to the playing field that set him apart from all other contestants. Under the ruthless competitive demeanor that seems to be a given with drag artists was a heart of gold that was quick to help the other contestants rather than watch them go up in flames. His insult-filled comedic bent made him all the more endearing and combined with his self-deprecating nature made it no surprise that he was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar. 

Since sashaying away with the crown, Bianca has toured North America hitting every Pride celebration through the summer of 2014. Known to never say no to a gig, Bianca hit Europe, Australia and South America with a vengeance. Putting together her one-woman show was the next step after completing the filming of her yet to be released film. 

If Phyllis Diller and Don Rickles had a love child it more than likely would have been Roy Haylock. He has merged the personas of these two legends. 

“Rolodex of Hate” is a far cry from a few minutes in a gay bar or being part of the entertainment targeted at Pride revelers. Naturally there are some growing pains evident in a solo two-hour show in a theatre with an audience of over 2,000. It comes down to establishing a cohesive sense of intimacy and rapport that can be attributed to the catch a rising star syndrome now well underway.  

Torontonians recently had the privilege of seeing Bianca at the historic Elgin Theatre during her third visit since her crowning on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”. From the opening short film depicting her childhood and upbringing to the experiences of being on Ru Paul’s Drag Race the show could have been subtitled, “My Life ‘til Now”. The audience went wild as Bianca strutted on to the stage in a red sequined gown reminiscent of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes”, complimented with her own trademark over-the-top makeup and hair..Whether gags were from the scripted show or ad-libbed nuggets. the audience was in roars of laughter from beginning to end.  

Whether as Roy Haylock or Bianca Del Rio the future holds much promise for this former reality star. She is certainly one of the rare talents we continue to watch as they soar to new heights.