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RuPaul (born RuPaul Andre Charles on 1960 November 17), and named after Paul Bergeron, is an American drag performer, dance music singer, actor, and songwriter who gained worldwide fame in the 1990s; appearing in a wide variety of television programs, films, and musical albums. Though a catty attitude is often associated with drag queens, RuPaul intentionally displayed a "love one another" attitude to be set apart from them. Although primarily known for an extravagant drag queen persona, RuPaul has performed as a man in a number of roles, usually billed as RuPaul Charles.


Born in San Diego, California, RuPaul's tumultuous youth was marked by the bitter divorce of his parents. He struggled as a musician and filmmaker in Atlanta during the 1980s. It was there that he participated in underground cinema, helping create the low-budget "Starbooty" (and an album by the same name). He entered the public eye in 1989 with a cameo in the music video for The B-52's immensely popular single "Love Shack."

In the early 1990s, RuPaul became a fixture in the New York club scene, eventually voted "Queen of Manhattan" by area party promoters and DJs. He was often seen pushing a shopping cart outside of dance clubs, and distributing flyers for upcoming events. It was during this time that he began performing under the name "RuPaul Charles." 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 also appeared for many years at the annual Wigstock drag festival, and appears in the documentary "Wigstock: The Movie." There are many videos circulating on the internet from this time that were filmed by Nelson Sullivan, whose claim to fame was recording everything he saw.

Some of his better known songs include "Supermodel(You Better Work)", "Snapshot", and "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous".

Supermodel (You Better Work)[edit]

He began releasing dance/house albums with Supermodel of the World in 1993, spawning the dance track hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)", which was to be the advent of Rupaul. The music video became an unexpected success on MTV channels, as grunge-rock (Nirvana) and gangsta rap were popular at the time. RuPaul's friendly, drag queen image catapulted him to celebrity status through this first release. The song itself peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was regarded as an unlikely accomplishment for the drag entertainer. It also charted on the UK Singles Chart, peaking within the top 40 at #39. The song found the most success on the US dance music charts (otherwise known as the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart), where it peaked at #2. It was through massive airplay that the song became famous, as well as promotional TV appearances on programs like The Arsenio Hall Show.

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 charts and further developed her 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 bit of controversy at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards when he was given the opportunity to present an award with legendary actor Milton Berle, who performed an altogether different type of drag early in his career. The two had conflicts back-stage, and when Berle inappropriately touched RuPaul's breasts, RuPaul ad-libbed the line "So you used to wear gowns, but now you're wearing diapers." The press picked this up as a crack in the "love everyone" message RuPaul presented, and depicted the incident as a young newcomer treating a legend poorly. Eventually the controversy faded.

In 1993, he recorded a duet with Elton John (a remake of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart") that went to number seven in the U.K. This was his biggest hit on The UK Singles Chart.

In 1995, 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."

In 1996, he landed a talk show on VH1, appropriately called The RuPaul Show, where he interviewed celebrity guests and musical acts. Nirvana (even though Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994), Duran Duran, Taylor Dayne, Mary J. Blige, Bea Arthur, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Beenie Man, Bow Wow Wow, and the Backstreet Boys were notable guests. His co-host was Michelle Visage, with whom he also co-hosted on WKTU radio. On one notable episode, RuPaul brought gay porn culture to Middle America with featured guests Chi Chi LaRue and Tom Chase.

RuPaul also helped launch the return of WKTU radio in New York City in 1996. RuPaul would serve as host (with Michelle Visage) of the morning show until 1998.

He also released his second album, Foxy Lady, in 1996. Despite his growing celebrity, it failed to chart within the Billboard 200. However, the leadoff 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 his second Hot 100 entry). Because of his strong fan base within the gay community, RuPaul has performed at gay pride events and numerous gay clubs.

In 1997, he released a Christmas album entitled Ho, Ho, Ho. He has had guest appearances in many films, including both Brady Bunch movies, in which he played Jan's female guidance counselor.

In the late 1990s he released his autobiography, Lettin' It All Hang Out. In 1997, RuPaul teamed with Martha Wash to remake the classic disco anthem, "It's Raining Men". It was during this time that he appeared in Webex TV commercials and magazine ads.

In 2001 he recorded with Brigitte Nielsen, credited as Gitta, the Eurodance track You're no lady.

In 2004, RuPaul released his third album, Red Hot. It received some dance radio and club play, but very little press coverage. On his blog, RuPaul discussed how he 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 his apparent dissatisfaction with the release, the leadoff single "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" hit number two on the dance chart. The second, "Workout," peaked at number five. The album itself only charted on the Electronic Albums chart, where it hit number nine. In 2006, the remixes of "People are People" went to number ten.

On 2006 June 13, RuPaul released ReWorked, his fourth album. It features reworked versions of songs from his back catalog, as well as new recordings. The first single is a re-recording of "Supermodel (You Better Work)". The remixes have, thus far, reached number twenty-one on the U.S. dance chart. A remix album, "The Rumixes," has also been released. RuPaul will be working on his ninth studio album. It will be a mix of dance-oriented pop and Euro-dance sound.


  • When guests enter the main room of Madame Tussaud's New York, they are greeted with the wax likeness RuPaul holding court as the center attraction high above the room as a life size center piece of a fountain.
  • RuPaul is noted amongst famous drag queens for his indifference towards the gender-specific pronouns used to address him - both "he" and "she" have been deemed acceptable.[unverified]
  • In 1997, the French-Canadian pop star Mitsou, who had primarily only had French-language hits, released an English-language single "Everybody Say Love" written by RuPaul (from the album Tempted).
  • In August 2005 a series of three RuPaul dolls was released. Three more were released later.
  • The song "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" from the album Red Hot was used as the theme song for the first season of the NBC reality show The Biggest Loser.
  • "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" was also used in scenes of an episode of Las Vegas titled "Whatever Happened to Seymour Magoon?" in 2006.
  • RuPaul once made an appearance on Walker Texas Ranger.


  • RuPaul has been famously quoted as saying, "we all came into this world naked, the rest of it is all drag," although this quote has been traced back to the gay liberation movement of the 1970s.[unverified]
  • RuPaul once said, "I do not impersonate females. How many women do you know who wear seven-inch heels, four-foot wigs, and skintight dresses?"[unverified]
  • When asked why he wore women's clothes, responded "these are not women's clothes, they are my clothes."[unverified]
  • "They told me I couldn't sing. They said there wasn't no big, black drag queen in the pop world."[unverified]
  • "You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis & Kathie Lee; I don't care!"[unverified]
  • "Learn to love yourself, 'cause if you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"[unverified]




Other Works[edit]

  • Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1993) (#7 UK) [Remake, duet w/Elton John, from Elton John's album "Duets"]
  • Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get (1994) [from "Music From The Motion Picture Addams Family Values"]
  • I Will Survive (1995) (UK Top 20) [featured on the video to the Diana Ross remake]
  • Free To Be (1995) [from "Wigstock: The Movie, Music From The Original Soundtrack"]
  • It's Raining Men... The Sequel (1997) [#21 UK] [Remake, duet w/Martha Wash, from Martha Wash's album "The Collection"]
  • Come (1997) [Writer, sung by Martha Wash, from Martha Wash's album "The Collection" and "RuPaul's Go Go Box Classics" compilation album]
  • Everybody Say Love (1993) [Writer, sung by Mitsou, from Mitsou's album "Tempted"]
  • Do The Right Thing (Don't Do Me Wrong) (1999) [Writer & Backing Vocalist, sung by Ev-Va]
  • Bad Girl (2000) [Unreleased, Recorded for Lil Kim's album "Notorious Kim"]
  • Say My Name (2001) [w/The Disco Brothers]
  • You're No Lady (2002) [duet w/Gitta aka Brigitte Nielsen]
  • It's Only Rock'n Roll (But I Like It) (2003) [Backing Vocalist, sung by Siedah Garrett]


During 2006, a series of "demos" were available to download to fans through the official RuPaul MySpace page.


  • StarrBooty '91 (Rare Demo)
  • Free to Be (Steve Silk Hurley '94)
  • Love Your Funky Self (Steve Silk Hurley '94)
  • Don't Walk Away (Steve Silk Hurley '94)


  • You're No Lady (Spanish Radio Edit) performed by RuPaul vs. Gitta
  • Say My Name performed by DiscoBros. featuring RuPaul
  • You're No Lady (Radio Edit) performed by RuPaul vs. Gitta


  • Dog Done Bit'cha


  • Electric Ecstasy (Club Remix) performed by Eklektica featuring RuPaul



See also[edit]

External links[edit]

This article is based on a GNU FDL LGBT Wikia article: RuPaul LGBT