Artwork by Tyler Dziubinski
(Author Note: While RuPaul is biologically male, as a drag queen Ru is indifferent to gender-specific pronouns. Throughout the article, I will use both male and female pronouns.)
While technically not a ‘she’, it’s a fact unavoidable that RuPaul, the self-proclaimed Supermodel of the World, is all that and then some. From films, to music, to books, to reality TV, RuPaul has done it all and she shows no signs of stopping.
Born in San Diego, RuPaul began her rise to stardom on the New York and Atlanta drag scene. He had his first taste of mainstream success in the 90’s with his hit dance song “Supermodel (You Better Work)” and he eventually went on to score a short-lived talk show on VH1, which featured guests like Diana Ross, Pat Benetar, Cyndi Lauper, and even Nirvana. He also gained attention for his many film cameos, like the Pageant Emcee in To Wong Foo, and Jan Brady’s guidance counselor in both Brady Bunch films. Then we come to 2008 when he began to produce RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition show dedicated to finding America’s next drag superstar. Having just wrapped its seventh season and with an eighth on the way, Drag Race has become a cultural phenomenon and really rocketed RuPaul into the mainstream media and the public’s eye. Throw in a bunch of CD’s and a couple of books, and you’ve got RuPaul’s career in a nutshell.
Now, many celebrities have success in multiple entertainment fields. What makes RuPaul so special? Basically, he has the confidence to do it in 6” heels and a platinum blonde wig.
RuPaul has conquered an industry catered to handsome white male actors, and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Sure, he does have male privilege on his side, but that’s where it ends. In an industry where being openly gay, or a person of color traditionally limits you, it’s hard already. Throw in the fact that RuPaul was pursuing success as a drag queen, and it seems like nothing was in her favor. But Ru said, “No way”. No one stopped her from achieving her dreams, although I’m sure more than a few doors were slammed in her face. And I think this is a great lesson for everyone: If you believe you have something worth selling, then who cares what others think.
Ru has never compromised her character during her career, and it comes through in everything she does. Each book, each song, everything she says… It’s all authentically RuPaul. He has a direct hand in everything his name is attached to and that makes it all the more enjoyable. I think having a signature ‘je ne sais quoi’ is so important as a person, and RuPaul has nailed it. You’ll never hear of him selling out or doing what’s popular. She does what’s RuPaul… and makes it popular.
She’s a business woman on her terms. She has the confidence to stand up for what she believes in and what she thinks is right. She uses her resources to build others up and promote love and acceptance and education. So the next time you’re second guessing yourself, just think of RuPaul and everything she’s done. And never ever forget this important Ru-ism: Unless they’re paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind.
Canonically, 23 year old Tyler hails from Fairbanks, AK. But as that is a pretty boring origin story, he prefers to tell people he’s a fabulous creature of the ocean, banished from the aquatic depths because all the other merfolk were hella jealous. Currently residing in South Korea, he one day hopes to work in fashion and entertainment. His guilty pleasures include overpriced cosmetics, trashy reality TV and B-List horror flicks and his top 3 films of all time are Showgirls, Mean Girls and Heathers. He can be found regularly avoiding responsibility at his Tumblr (cryface-larddick) or stalking drag queens on Twitter (TDziubinski)