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RuPaul at the DVD release party for Starrbooty in New York, October 2007
|Birth name||RuPaul Andre Charles|
November 17, 1960 |
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Origin||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Genres||Dance-pop, Hi-NRG, disco house, R&B, eurodance, electro house|
|Occupations||Drag performer, singer-songwriter, actor|
RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960), best known as simply 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 during the 1980s and early 90s. RuPaul has on occasion performed as a man in a number of roles, usually billed as RuPaul Charles. RuPaul is noted among famous drag queens for his indifference towards the gender-specific pronouns used to address him—both "he" and "she" have been deemed acceptable. "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 reality television shows RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's Drag U. Rupaul is also known for his hit song "Supermodel (You Better Work)".
RuPaul was born in San Diego, California. His name was given to him by his mother, a Louisiana native. The "Ru" came from roux, an ingredient used in gumbo. 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, which included the late Todd Butler. RuPaul's first prominent national exposure came 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 appeared for many years at the annual Wigstock drag festival and appeared in the documentary Wigstock: The Movie. In the '90s, RuPaul was known in the UK for her 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.
In 1993, RuPaul recorded dance/house albums which included Supermodel of the World. They were released through the rap label Tommy Boy, spawning the dance track hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)". The music video was an unexpected success on MTV channels, as grunge and gangsta rap were popular at the time. The song peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. It further charted on the UK Singles Chart, peaking on the top 40 at #39. The song found the most success peaking at number 2 on the US dance music charts (known as the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart). Airplay, heavy rotation of the music video on the MTV network and television appearances on popular programs like The Arsenio Hall Show popularized the song.
|“||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.||”|
His next two songs/videos, "Back to My Roots" and "A Shade Shady (Now Prance)" both went #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and furthered his campy persona. Between them, "House of Love" was released without a video. It failed to place on any US charts, despite rising to #68 on the UK Singles Chart.
RuPaul caused a controversy at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards when she presented an award with actor Milton Berle, who performed an altogether different type of drag early in his career. The two had conflicts back-stage, and when Berle touched RuPaul's false breasts, RuPaul ad-libbed the line "So you used to wear gowns, but now you're wearing diapers." A surprised Berle replied, "Oh, we're going to ad lib? I'll check my brain and we'll start even." The press portrayed the exchange as a crack in the "love everyone" message RuPaul presented, and as a young newcomer treating a legend poorly. RuPaul would later describe the situation in his autobiography, describing Berle's behavior backstage as sexually inappropriate and rude. He did regret the situation, saying: "Of course, what I should have done backstage is told him 'Get your dirty hands off of me, you motherfucker!', and then gone out there and been Miss Black America." That same year would also mark her biggest hit on the UK Singles Chart, a remake of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Elton John, which went to number seven. It was around this time that RuPaul co-hosted the BRIT Awards in London, also with Elton John.
RuPaul was signed to a modeling contract for MAC Cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. Various billboards featured him in full drag, often with the text "I am the MAC girl." It also released his autobiography, Lettin' It All Hang Out. He promoted that book in part with a 1995 guest appearance on ABC's All My Children, in a storyline that put it on the set of Erica Kane's talk show "The Cutting Edge".
The next year she landed a talk show of his own on VH1, called The RuPaul Show, interviewing celebrity guests and musical acts. Diana Ross, Nirvana, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, Mary J. Blige, Bea Arthur, Dionne Warwick, Cyndi Lauper, Olivia Newton-John, Beenie Man, Pete Burns, Bow Wow Wow, and the Backstreet Boys were notable guests. His co-host was Michelle Visage, with whom she also co-hosted on WKTU radio. On one episode, RuPaul featured guests Chi Chi LaRue and Tom Chase speaking about the gay porn industry.
Later in the year he released his second album, Foxy Lady, this time on the L.A.-based Rhino Records label. Despite her growing celebrity, she failed to chart within the Billboard 200. However, the first single "Snapshot" found success in the dance market and went to number four on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It also enjoyed limited mainstream success, charting at number ninety-five on the Billboard Hot 100 (which was its second and only other Hot 100 entry). The second single "Little Bit of Love" only charted at number 28 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The album featured covers of a 1981 Diana Ross song "Work That Body", co-written by Paul Jabara and "If You Were a Woman and I Was a Man", originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler. Because of her strong fan base within the gay community, RuPaul has performed at gay pride events and numerous gay clubs. During this time RuPaul helped launch the return of WKTU radio in New York City and would serve as host (with Michelle Visage) of the morning show until 1998.
In 1997, she released his third album, a Christmas album entitled Ho, Ho, Ho. She has had guest appearances in many films, including both Brady Bunch movies, in which he played Jan's female guidance counselor. In 1997, RuPaul teamed with Martha Wash to remake the classic disco anthem, "It's Raining Men". The song was included on the 1998 compilation CD RuPaul's Go Go Box Classics, which was a collection of some of his favorite dance songs by other artists; this would be her third and final release through Rhino Records and a major record label. It was during this time that she appeared in Webex TV commercials and magazine ads. In 2002, she recorded with Brigitte Nielsen, credited as Gitta, the Eurodance track "You're No Lady".
In 2004, RuPaul released his fourth album, Red Hot on his own RuCo Inc. label. It received some dance radio and club play, but very little press coverage. On his blog, RuPaul discussed how she felt betrayed by the entertainment industry, particularly the gay press. In one incident, it was noted that the magazine Entertainment Weekly refused to review the album, instead asking him to make a comedic contribution to a fashion article. He likened the experience to "a black person being invited to a party, but only if they'll serve." Despite her apparent dissatisfaction with the release, Red Hot showed RuPaul returning to the top of the dance charts in the US with the lead off single "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" hitting number two on the dance chart. The second, "WorkOut", peaked at number five. The third and final single from the album "People Are People" a duet with Tom Trujillo peaked at number 10. The album itself only charted on the Top Electronic Albums chart, where it hit number nine. When asked about this in an interview, RuPaul said, "Well, betrayed might be the wrong word. 'Betrayed' alludes to an idea that there was some kind of a promise made to me, and there never was. More so, I was disappointed. I don't feel like it was a betrayal. Nobody promises anything in show business and you understand that from day one. But, I don't know what happened. It seemed I couldn't get press on my album unless I was willing to play into the role that the mainstream press has assigned to gay people, which is as servants of straight ideals."
|Wikinews has related news: RuPaul speaks about society and the state of drag as performance art|
On June 13, 2006, RuPaul released ReWorked, his first remix album and fifth album overall. It features reworked versions of songs from his back catalog, as well as new recordings. The only single released from the album is a re-recording of "Supermodel (You Better Work)", reaching number twenty-one on the U.S. dance chart. June 20, 2007 saw the release of Starrbooty (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on iTunes in the US. The single "Call Me Starrbooty" was digitally released in 2007. The album contains new tracks from the singer as well as interludes with dialogue from the movie. The film was released on DVD in October 2007.
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.
In March 2009, RuPaul released the album Champion to iTunes and Amazon. The album topped the iTunes dance album chart at #1 and features the dance singles "Cover Girl" and "Jealous of My Boogie", both anthems from the reality show RuPaul's Drag Race. Logo's second annual NewNowNext Awards in 2009 were hosted by RuPaul. There he performed "Jealous of My Boogie (Gomi & RasJek Edit)". In March 2010, RuPaul released his second remix album, Drag Race to iTunes. The album features remixes of songs from the 2009 album Champion and the brand new song "Hit the Floor".
In April 2011, coinciding with the finale of season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul released his fifth studio album Glamazon, produced by Revolucian, who previously worked with RuPaul on his album Champion. The album charted on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart and the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart at #11 and #8 respectively. In July 2011, RuPaul released another remix EP on iTunes entitled SuperGlam DQ, which features remixes of tracks from Glamazon, remixes of the "Drag U Theme Song", and a new song, "Sexy Drag Queen". Starting in June 2011, the second season of RuPaul's Drag U aired. Late 2011, promotions for RuPaul's Drag Race (season 4) began. RuPaul made appearances on The Rosie Show and The Chew, and also attended a Drag Race NY Premiere party at Patricia Fields store in New York. Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race premiered on Logo (TV Channel) on January 30, 2012, with RuPaul returning as the main host and judge. Season 5 of "RuPaul's Drag Race" premiered on "Logo (TV Channel)" on January 28, 2013, with a 90 minute special and RuPaul returning as the main host and judge.
|1995||In the House||Kevin|
|1998||Hercules||Rock Guardian "Hercules and the Girdle of Hyppolyte"|
|1998||Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||Member of the Witches Council/A hair dresser|
|1998||Walker, Texas Ranger||Bob|
|2001||Popular||Sweet Honey Child|
|2001||Port Charles||Madame Alicia|
|2002||Son of the Beach||Heinous Anus (credited as RuPaul Charles)|
|2009||Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World||Tyler|
|2009 – present||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself (In Drag) - Host/Judge (also producer)|
|2010||Ugly Betty||Rudolph, emcee of the cabaret|
|2010 – present||RuPaul's Drag U||Himself (out of drag) - Host (also producer)|
|2012||RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race||Herself (In Drag) - Host/Judge (also producer)|
|1987||RuPaul Is: Starbooty!||Starbooty|
|1994||Crooklyn||Connie, the Bodega Woman|
|1995||The Brady Bunch Movie||Mrs Cummings|
|1995||Wigstock: The Movie||Himself|
|1995||Blue in the Face||Dancer|
|1995||To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar||Rachel Tensions|
|1995||Red Ribbon Blues||Duke|
|1995||A Mother's Prayer||Deacon "Dede"|
|1996||A Very Brady Sequel||Mrs Cummings|
|1998||An Unexpected Life||Charles|
|1999||But I'm a Cheerleader||Mike|
|2000||The Eyes of Tammy Faye||Narrator|
|2000||The Truth About Jane||Jimmy|
|2000||For the Love of May||Jimbo|
|2001||Who is Cletis Tout?||Ginger Markum|
|2005||Michael Lucas' Dangerous Liaisons||Cameo|
|2006||Work it Girl: The Music videos|
|2006||Zombie Prom: The Movie||Delilah Strict|
|2008||Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild||Tyrell Tyrelle|
|1983||The Blue Boy Terror|
|1986||American Porn Star|
|1999||Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World||Daryl.com|
|2006||Zombie Prom||Mrs. Strict|
|2008||How We Got Over|
Awards and nominations
|1993||Best Dance Video – "Supermodel (You Better Work)"||1993 MTV Video Music Awards||Nominated|
|1999||Vito Russo Award||GLAAD Media Awards||Won|
|2010||Outstanding Reality Program – RuPaul's Drag Race||21st GLAAD Media Awards||Won|
|Best New Indulgence – RuPaul's Drag Race||NewNowNext Awards||Won|
|2012||Best Reality Show Judge/Host - RuPaul's Drag Race||TV.com's Best of 2012 Awards||Won|
- Lettin' It All Hang Out
- Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style is the second book written by drag queen and self-professed "supermodel of the world" RuPaul. This book provides tips on fashion, beauty, style and confidence for girls and boys, straight and gay. With photos by Mathu Andersen from the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race, "Workin' It!" picks up where the show leaves off. The book contains insights into makeup, clothing choices and the illusion of drag. It also shares RuPaul's philosophy on style and attitude.
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
- Gianoulis, Tina (2005-08-16). "RuPaul (RuPaul Andre Charles)". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. glbtq, Inc.. http://www.glbtq.com/arts/rupaul.html. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- RuPaul (1995-06). 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. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2871900054.html. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
- Interview with RuPaul, David Shankbone, Wikinews, October 6, 2007.
- Billboard.com Top Electronic Albums: RuPaul Red Hot (week of October 16, 2004)
- Project Runway: Season 5, Episode 6 Summary
- Paula's Party: Season 4, Episode 6 Summary
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: RuPaul|
- Official website
- RuPaul on Myspace
- RuPaul's Drag U
- RuPaul's Drag Race Season 2 on Logo TV
- RuPaul at the Internet Movie Database