Ladies and Gentlemen
This weekend, RuPaul will make his hosting debut on “SNL”. The Emmy Award-winning creator of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” now also stars in Netflix’s “AJ and the Queen.” At some point during Saturday night’s broadcast, RuPaul will look into the camera and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Bieber.” And then Bieber will play a song because he's the musical guest. This is Bieber’s third time on “SNL”. When Bieber made his “SNL” debut on April 10, 2010, it was Tina Fey who got to say “Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Bieber,” because she was the host that night. When he was both host and musical guest in 2013, we don’t know who introduced him (maybe himself?) but we do know that this was the episode where he earned the title of “Worst Guest”. This was a mid-“Believe” tour Bieber, which feels like a million Biebers ago. You know what else feels like a million Biebers ago? Us talking about RuPaul. Let’s get back to that. BTW, this is the look Ru was serving at the GLAAD Media Awards in 1995.
We're Born Naked And The Rest Is Drag
Photo by Tom Hill/Getty Images
RuPaul was born RuPaul Andre Charles in San Diego, California, on November 17, 1960. No, seriously. That’s the right date. 1960. Yep, we double-checked. Here’s the tea, girls: RuPaul is 57 years old. Growing up, he had three older sisters and an early appreciation for Diana Ross. When he was 15, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to study performing arts. When he was 19, he posed for this photo. Enjoy. We have some more vintage Ru images coming up that we’re really excited to show you.
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RuPaul made her TV debut in 1982 on “The American Music Show”. The Atlanta public access variety show featured reports from around Atlanta, interviews, sketch comedy, musical guests, and drag. RuPaul became a regular. This is Ru in the wild, circa 1985.
You Better Work
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RuPaul recorded “Supermodel (You Better Work)” in 1993. It became an unexpected hit. The video was played in high rotation on MuchMusic alongside grunge and gangsta rap. RuPaul was a sensation. It’s not unusual now to think that a beautiful Amazon drag queen could boss her way onto the charts with a supermodel instructional monologue set to an irresistible beat. But this was 1993. This was wild. This was risky. This was subversive. This was four years before Ellen came out. This was five years before George Michael was outed. This was two years before the Chicago Tribune casually called a drag queen “straight society’s worst nightmare” and such was the manner of the day. RuPaul is so brave that we don’t know how he achieves such a neat tuck.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/ Getty
We’ve all seen this famous photo of RuPaul comforting baby Frances Bean Cobain with Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl. It was taken at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. Frances Bean shared it on Instagram. But did you know...
Nirvana Loved RuPaul
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty
Kurt Cobain said "Supermodel (You Better Work)" was one of his favourite videos of 1993. Nirvana appeared on RuPaul’s Christmas special, "RuPaul’s Christmas Ball", in 1993. They performed "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".
Lip-Sync For Your Life
Elton John was on hand for a duet of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. We don't know how the camera lens didn't shatter in the presence of so much fabulousness. In 1995, he appeared in the video for Diana Ross’ cover of “I Will Survive”. Performing with his idol must have felt like disco strutting into heaven.
RuPaul Loves Christmas
©VH1 / Courtesy: Everett Collection/Canadian Press
He has released no fewer than three Christmas records: ‘Christmas Party’ in 2018, ‘Slay Belles’ in 2015, and ’Ho Ho Ho’ in 1997. And don't forget the 2018 TV special “RuPaul's Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular”. He also appeared in "A Very Gaga Holiday" in 2011, which was Gaga's Muppet-filled holiday show. These Christmas projects are among RuPaul’s 12 studio albums, three soundtracks, six compilation albums, five remix albums, 11 EPs and 45 singles. When he’s not doing that, he’s racking up 77 acting credits.
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines
"RuPaul's Drag Race" debuted in 2009. The reality TV competition documents Ru's search for America's next drag superstar. The colourful, empowering, dramatic, hilarious program earned RuPaul four consecutive Emmys (2016 to 2019) for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. The show won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2018 and 2019. But the real mark of success is spinoffs and "Drag Race" is dripping with them. See: “RuPaul's Drag U”, “RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars”, “The Switch Drag Race”, ‘Drag Race Canada”, et al. The franchise has launched a new league of drag queens, including Trixie Mattel, who will release her fourth album this month.
He's A Wonder
But don't let any playlist try to convince you he's a one-hit wonder. That's like calling Bradley Cooper a one-hit wonder. RuPaul is a multi-talented performer who earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 2018. He has racked up hits on the dance charts and we mentioned all those Emmys, right?
A Real Nancy
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Okay, we mentioned the Emmys. But did you know that L.A.’s Occidental College offers a course called “Reading RuPaul: Camp Culture, Gender Insubordination and the Politics of Performance”? Did we tell you that last year, American Democrat and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was a guest judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars”? RuPaul is an institution and that bouffant purple chiffon bow is giving us life, girl.
'AJ and the Queen'
Photo: Getty Images for Netflix
Here's RuPaul and co-star, Izzy G., at the premiere of Netflix's "AJ and the Queen", which is streaming now. We binged this. It was 100 per cent entertaining, even during those few moments where the camp verged on being cheesy or when the lessons seemed heavy-handed. The characters are so compelling! We would like season 2 right now, please. But in the meantime, we'll take "SNL" this weekend. We can imagine Mama Ru in the hair and makeup department showing them how it's done.