On the Couch with Christina Bianco

Christina Bianco photo by William ErnstWho is Christina Bianco?
She’s a chatty New Yorker living in London, who is always hungry, always chasing dogs down the street to say hello, and she’s an unabashed, self-proclaimed diva-holic.

What would you do differently from what you do now? 
I have entirely too much fun planning trips. Not just for myself but for my friends and family … whether they’ve asked me to or not. I just can’t help myself! I could easily change my life to be a bespoke travel planner. From the location, to the daily walks, to restaurants and attractions – the idea of creating the perfect itinerary for someone is absolutely intoxicating to me. Aaaannnd since I started answering this I’ve already booked two different holidays.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m always inspired by people who pave their own way and think outside of the box. This is probably because, as a performer, I’ve never really fit into a box myself. Back when I was just out of college, I was at a party chatting with someone, venting about agents, auditions, the usual blabber … and they said to me, “If you don’t fit a mould, make your own.” I may not remember that lovely persons name, but I’ve never forgotten those words. I wish I’d taken their advice sooner but I can tell you that when I did, my life and career changed for the better. The people whose experiences and opinions I value most have always been those who challenge typical ways of thinking and working.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I wish I could give everyone more patience and tolerance. In today’s ‘click culture’ everything comes at us so fast and we’re pushed to respond just as quickly. And trust me, I get it. I grew up in an Italian home where you had to yell the loudest and talk the fastest if you wanted to be heard! But hardly anyone seems to take a moment to really listen and understand each other anymore. This Italian girl would say ‘basta!’ Have patience, please.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’ve fallen in love with Sitges in Spain! It’s so ideal because I can go explore the big city of Barcelona with all the historic buildings and attractions, but then hop back to the little seaside town filled with a perfect mix of locals and tourists, gorgeous beaches, music-filled night life and the most incredible Catalan restaurants! I mean, we’re talking life-changing seafood here!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why? 
I take them to try the fabulous food at Borough Market! (are you finding the common thread here?) There’s something for everyone – you want gluten free muffins, oysters, flavoured olive oils, paella, bbq chicken, vegetarian curries, homemade ice cream, duck confit and a side of beef to take home – they’ve got it! And the vendors all have a story to tell if you care to ask.

What are you currently reading? 
A Borough Market menu! I’m kidding … I’m actually re-reading Barbra Streisand’s two books. Her memoir My Name Is Barbra and her first book, My Passion For Design. Yes, I realise it’s insane to re-read 1,265 pages, but this is who I am! For the past 12 years, in many of my shows, I’ve been directly reading from her first book. Now it’s gotten to the point where people request that I ‘do the Design book bit.’ So, since the recent release of her autobiography, I’ve been working on a new show that’s entirely about Barbra, using her two self-penned books as my guide through her music, life and career.

What are you currently listening to? 
Ok you caught me. Instead of re-reading I’m now listening to Barbra’s audio book. How could I not? Her books are entirely too heavy to travel with, and she narrates them herself so Babs’s dulcet tones will be keeping me company on my long flights to Australia. I mean, after all, a girl has to save some room in her luggage for shoes.

Happiness is? 
After years of constant travel while living with the daily grind of NYC, my happiness these days is staying at home in lush South East London, listening to The Bill Evans Trio and cooking while I watch my husband and dog play in the garden. Absolute bliss!

What does the future hold for you?
I’m beginning a very cool theatrical job at the end of this year that will keep me busy for quite a while. (I know it’s awful to tease you and not say what the show is, but I don’t make the rules!) I know I won’t get to enjoy as many quiet, happy moments cooking at home with my boys, but I’m very excited and grateful to step into a dream role and do what I love. That’s another kind of happiness I’ll never take for granted.

Christina presents In Divine Company at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival: 21 – 22 June, before playing the Hayes Theatre Co: 24 – 27 June 2024.

Image: Christina Bianco – photo by William Ernst