RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960), best known mononymously as RuPaul, is an American actor, drag queen, model, author, and recording artist, who first became widely known in the 1990s when he appeared in a wide variety of television programs, films, and musical albums. Previously, he was a fixture on the Atlanta and New York City club scenes. Usually billed as RuPaul Charles, he has played men in a number of roles, and makes public appearances both in and out of drag.
RuPaul is noted among drag queens for his indifference toward the gender-specific pronouns used to address him—both "he" and "she" have been deemed acceptable, as stated in his autobiography: "You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don't care! Just as long as you call me." He hosted a short-running talk show on VH1, and currently hosts the reality television show RuPaul's Drag Race. RuPaul is also known for his hit song "Supermodel (You Better Work)".
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life and career[edit | edit source]
RuPaul was born in San Diego, California in 1960. His name was given to him by his mother, a Louisiana native. The "Ru" came from roux, which is the term for the base of gumbo and other creole stews and soups. RuPaul struggled as a musician and filmmaker in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1980s. He participated in underground cinema, helping create the low-budget film Star Booty, and an album by the same name. In Atlanta, RuPaul often performed at the Celebrity Club (managed by Larry Tee) as a bar dancer or with his band, Wee Wee Pole. RuPaul also performed as a backup singer to Glen Meadmore along with drag queen Vaginal Davis. RuPaul's first prominent national exposure came in 1989 with an extra role dancing in the video for "Love Shack" by The B-52's.
In the early 1990s, RuPaul worked the Georgia club scene and was known by his full birth name. Initially participating in genderfuck-style performances, RuPaul performed solo and in collaboration with other bands at several New York nightclubs, most notably the Pyramid Club. He played opposite New York City drag performer Mona Foote (Nashom Benjamin) in the one act Sci-Fi parody "My Pet Homo" written and directed by Jon Michael Johnson for Cooper Square Productions. He appeared for many years at the annual Wigstock drag festival and appeared in the documentary Wigstock: The Movie. In the 1990s, RuPaul was known in the UK for his appearances on the Channel 4 series Manhattan Cable, a weekly series produced by World of Wonder and presented by American Laurie Pike about New York's wild and wacky public-access television system.
|“||What other people think of me is not my business. What I do is what I do. How people see me doesn't change what I decide to do. I don't choose projects so people don't see me as one thing or another. I choose projects that excite me. I think the problem is that people refuse to understand what drag is outside of their own belief system. – RuPaul||”|
RuPaul's Drag Race[edit | edit source]
In mid-2008, RuPaul began producing RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality television game show which aired on Logo in February 2009. The premise of the program has several drag queens compete to be selected by RuPaul and a panel of judges as "America's next drag superstar". The first season's winner was BeBe Zahara Benet, and first runner-up Nina Flowers was chosen by fans as "Miss Congeniality" through voting via the show's official website. In publicity preparation for the new show, RuPaul made appearances as a guest on several other shows in 2008 including as a guest judge on episode 6 of season 5 of Project Runway and as a guest "chef" on Paula's Party.
Other ventures[edit | edit source]
Podcasting[edit | edit source]
'RuPaul: What's The Tee? With Michelle Visage' debuted on April 9, 2014. Ru-Paul co-hosts the ‘What’s The Tee?’ podcast with longtime friend and fellow ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ judge Michelle Visage. The bi-weekly show features RuPaul and Michelle’s thoughts on the behind the scenes of RuPaul's Drag Race, life advice, beauty tips, and conversations with featured guests from all corners of the entertainment world among other topics. The show is available on the What's the Tee website, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and iTunes.
References[edit | edit source]
- RuPaul (June 1995). Lettin' It All Hang Out: An Autobiography. Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-7868-6156-8.
- The Bonnie Hunt Show March 12, 2010
- RuPaul Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about RuPaul. Encyclopedia.com.
- Southern Belles, Latchkey Kids and Thrift-Store Crossdressers (October 2013).
- Kot, Greg (September 1, 1995). What a Drag. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on March 12, 2013.
- Project Runway Season 5 Good Queen Fun | Bravo TV Official Site. Bravotv.com.
- Diva Party : Paula's Party. Food Network. Retrieved on December 3, 2013.
[edit | edit source]
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