RuPaul Andre Charles became the quintessential “Supermodel of the World,” debuting with the album of that name 27 years ago. In 1993, seeing a drag queen hit the mainstream was unheard of, but RuPaul knew he had finally arrived a born performer who always knew he would be famous.
“I knew this was happening for me when I was shooting the ‘Supermodel’ video in Central Park, and I had a Winnebago,” he told EW in a 2017 interview. “I thought I have a freaking Winnebago. I am here.”
Throwing Open Doors
RuPaul seemed to magically destroy prevailing homophobic attitudes with his charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. In a world where gay people remained in closets, RuPaul busted the door wide open. With undeniable charm and powerful singing voice, he sashayed through as if no door had ever been there.
Manager Fenton Bailey said, “RuPaul is basically Big Bird from Sesame Street. He’s non-threatening and family-friendly.” As a black, gay man in drag, RuPaul had plenty of hurdles to overcome.
Nevertheless, the fearless performer rose to fame, and the next year became the first drag queen with a major cosmetics campaign contract for MAC.
— kathy najimy (@kathynajimy) June 17, 2014
On the Only Thing that Scares Him
In a 2019 interview with Vanity Fair, RuPaul revealed the one thing that truly scares him.
“It’s the only thing I’m afraid of: Ignorant people. Especially ignorant people who think that they’re smart –that’s the scariest thing on Earth.”
Drag Race Changes the World
In 2009, he debuted the groundbreaking RuPaul’s Drag Race, bringing the colorful world of drag into homes everywhere. More than a show about queens in impressive outfits, the show focuses as much on the people out of drag. Thus, we learn about their serious struggles with a dash of education on LGBTQ rights throughout history.
At the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards, RuPaul won his fifth consecutive Emmy as host of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Meanwhile, the show has become the most-awarded reality competition show in history with an astonishing 19 wins.
Over the years, the show has launched a slew of empowering quotes, catchphrases, and one-liners. Below, see one that Mama Ru says on every episode of Drag Race:
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Get I get an amen up in here?”
Another quote from one of RuPaul’s many hit songs tells us that queens are far from the only ones wearing drag. It’s a good reminder that underneath we’re all human beings searching for the same things.
“I famously said you’re born naked, and the rest is drag,” said Ru. “What that means is that we are all more than just what it says we are on our driver’s license or what it says in our job description. We are actually, in reality, an extension of the power that created the whole universe.”
Rather than hiding from the world through what we wear, it can bring out our confidence to be our authentic, vulnerable selves.
“Drag doesn’t change who you are…it reveals who you are.” – RuPaul
“Vulnerability is power.” – RuPaul
On Ignoring Negativity
Another quote you’ll hear Ru say frequently tell us that other people’s negativity doesn’t have to be an obstacle.
“What other people think of me is none of my damn business.”
A lesson Ru learned from his mother that guides him to this day:
“Unless they are paying your bill, pay them bitches no mind.”
As well as blocking out negativity from others, RuPaul reminds us frequently not to heed “the inner saboteur” inside us all.
On ‘Condragulations’ for a Fifth Emmy
As RuPaul accepted “condragulations” for his latest Emmy, he had an inspirational quote:
“On behalf of VH1, World of Wonder, and our incredible cast and crew, I want to thank the Academy for this great honor. I’ve always said, every time I bat my false eyelashes, I’m making a political statement. Well, tonight, the only political statement I want to make is this: Love,” RuPaul said.
“Love for our LGBT brothers and sisters, love for Black queens and brown queens, and love for the United States of America, where a little gay boy with nothing more than a pussycat wig and a dream can build an international platform that celebrates sweet, sensitive souls everywhere.”
On the Importance of Drag
In 2020, we’re all in drag with masks and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, RuPaul and Drag Race are helping us through quarantine. Ratings are higher than ever, and the show couldn’t be more culturally important during a trying moment in history.
Some might question why the show has risen to such prominence. In 2017, RuPaul explained why he thinks drag is so important in an interview on Good Morning America.
“Our show, it’s a lot of fun, but at its core, it’s about the tenacity of the human spirit. These kids, against all odds, have said, you know what society, I know you want me to spit in this box, but you know what, I’m not going to. I’m going to do my own thing.”
Later, RuPaul explained why his show is particularly critical now, as many minorities face an uncertain future.
“In this culture, in the political culture right now, the fact that we get to show people that love is strong, we are Americans, and we believe in open hearts and love. We believe in love, in acceptance, and this show is so important more now than ever,”
See the interview from Good Morning America below:
On Choosing Your Own Family
In a world that can be threatening to those who are different, RuPaul shows us that we can choose who deserves a place in our inner circle. Choose to surround yourself with those who understand, appreciate, and lift you up –always.
“We as gay people get to choose our family and the people we’re around. I am your family. We are a family here.” – RuPaul.
If You Feel Alone
In his Vanity Fair interview, RuPaul gave his advice on what to do if you feel alone. We all feel like outsiders sometimes, but we are all connected. At no point are we ever truly alone.
“Feelings are not facts. What you feel is an indicator, but a lot of times, it’s not really the truth. The truth is, we are not separate from one another… We are actually one thing together.”
Thanks, Mama Ru, and amen to that!
See more gems from RuPaul in his personal 2019 Vanity Fair interview:
Featured image: Composite of screenshots from YouTube