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Lettin It All Hang Out

RuPaul Article And Interview

In the wake of Mondo New York, some videos by the B-52's and various episodes of Geraldo, the success of the former RuPaul Andre Charles comes about as much a surprise as Peter Gatien's drug bust. Someone from that underground nightlife E-lect known as club kids was bound to parade their fabricated personalities in front of the masses and RuPaul arrived there with a perfect blend of warmth and camp, cradling middle America in the bosom of black motherly sentiments while tapping into the sassiness that is part of drag's legacy.
And because she trafficked in non-threatening image concoction, she's been able to sashay/shante easily through practically every facet of today's media.
The occasion for this interview, for example, was the release of her new album, "Foxy Lady" (Rhino). While it's more eclectic than "Supermodel of the World," moving from slow jam to faux flamenco to Miami bass to the attitudinal collage of the title track, it leans too heavily on her trite "Everybody say love" philosophy.

And even though "If You Were A Woman And I Was A Man" is a cute twist, it's downright polite compared to the debut's "Supernatural" - still her greatest song, a classic to that can almost stand up to such gender f******-up milestones as Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and the Raincoats' cover of "Lola."
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RuPaul on a day off

  But the real point here is that there's no reason to believe her career is over if the rest of the world shares my opinion on her musical shortcomings. Her autobiography, "Lettin' It All Hang Out," is now in paperback. She's appeared in about half a dozen films, most recently Fled and A Very Brady Sequel.
Her contract as spokesqueen for MAC cosmetics has been renewed. She hosts the morning show for New York radio station WKTU and VH-1's Party Machine. She has her own talk show, The RuPaul Show, also on VH-1. So, who cares if she's clogged up the arteries of the Tunnel with a diluted brand of outrageousness? That's still a gay black man underneath the glitz and his success is a success for us all.

I called Ru at his New York apartment on a Friday morning after his radio show. We only spoke for fifteen minutes - an ironic time slot for someone who's far surpassed its Warhol-bestowed significance.

NYTix: Hello! What a pleasure it is to finally meet you!
RuPaul: Thank you.

RuPaulLocksHow are you?
I'm a talking fool today. I've been doing phoners since the show was over and...

Oh, tell me a little bit about your radio show.
Well, it's from six to ten in the morning...

Six to ten in the morning!?!
Oh, yes. I get up at 4:30 in the morning and the car comes at five. I interviewed Olivia Newton-John, Jay Leno, Geena Davis, Cindy Crawford and, well, I can't even remember the others right now.

Wow!
It's the Morning Drive Show and it's the number four show in this market.

So, RuPaul is your real name, correct?
Yes. My mother is Creole and my name is based on her background.

(At this point, Ru is yelling to someone in the room.)
Does that have any carbs in it? Those other shakes had too many carbs in it.
(Back to me now.)
Sorry.......

What was that?
That was my boyfriend George. He's making me a new shake. They have lots of protein and, I tell ya, the weight just falls off.

Whats in it?
Just some secret stuff that we cant talk about - But its full of natural organic protein, it just slides down my throat, I just canīt get enough of it, ha ha!

Why are you drinking that?
I have some television appearances coming up. I'm not fat but there's a few areas here and there that I need to work on ... anyway, my name comes from my mother's Creole background. Ru is the basis of a lot of Creole cooking. It's like a gravy.

And she just added it to Paul?
Yeah.

I see. Who are some of your mentors?
Oh, I have lots. Berry Gordy. I mean here's an African-American who built an empire with just a dream and sheer determination. Cher.Who would've thought that this girl with crooked teeth and a huge nose could be a superstar? Diana Ross. David Bowie. Bowie bucked
the system with his image in a male-oriented rock world. When I was fourteen, I took a Magic Marker and wrote "Bowie" on everything that wasn't moving.

So are you in drag right now?
Yes, darling, and are you touching yourself?

(laughing) I'm sorry, I know that sounds like a 1-900 number...
No, I'm not. I do it once in a while for fun but I really only do it when I'm getting paid, ch-ching! A lot of people think I'm in drag when I'm doing the radio show and it's like "Sure, honey," but, no, I'm never in drag on the radio.

Are people disappointed when they meet you and you're not in drag?
Some people are but, the people who are into me because of what's in the inside aren't. I mean, if it was just drag that I was about, Iwould've already disappeared.

So who would you like to see in drag?
Well, we're born naked and the rest is drag. Drag is whatever you wear - however you choose to represent yourself through clothing. Sothere's different types of drag. There's men who do drag like Elvis, Dennis Rodman, Michael Jackson, and women too like Zsa ZsaGabor, LaToyah Jackson and Dolly Parton. What they do can be considered drag. I'm glamour drag.

Oh, sure, I understand that. I guess then what I'm asking is what men would you like to see in glamour drag?
Every man would look good in drag. I'd like to see a guy in nothing but bra and panties with his big ole fu***** cock sticking out of the side of his panties... oh, I'm sorry.

That's okay.
Yeah, a bra and panties and nothing else. And no make-up. Ooo, I'm getting hot!! But as far as men I'd like to see in full glamour drag -Bill Clinton.

He would look good in drag. But I think Al Gore is cuter.
Oh, Al Gore. Mmm! Yum, Yum!! Yeah, him too.

Is it hard to find a boyfriend?
I've never been much of a dater. I was a virgin until I was eighteen years old. It's never been a focus for me. Five years ago, though, Imade a conscious decision to make it a priority to be in a loving relationship. But I had to come to terms with my relationship with my dad which always effected my relationships with other men. My dad is a charming man but he was emotionally unavailable and detached when I was young. But I dealt with my dad and things are better. I talk about it in my book.

So who's George?
We've been together for three years now. I met him at a club. I was breaking up with someone at the time and saw him dancing like a maniac. He wears his spirit on the outside and I saw that his spirit was my own. Again I wasn't into dating so I wasn't looking. But we became friends and just went from there.

Now what happened at (former label) Tommy Boy and how'd you wind up on Rhino?
We had two different agendas, Tommy Boy and me. It was an amicable split but I wanted to go with a label that was on the same page. And so many people at Rhino are gay so that helped.

Really? I didn't know that.
Oh, yes. And the roster is just a handful of new artists. The rest is just catalogue. I didn't want to get lost in a huge studio roster.

Was that Lawanda Page on the single for "Supermodel?"
Yes, it was. In fact, I think today's her birthday. I should call her. I always loved her - her voice and her delivery. I had a wish list for the album and Lawanda Page was at the top.

Who would you like to record with?
Cher. I never met a celebrity that I hit it off so well with. We were like old girlfriends. Bowie, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, kd lang, Patti Labelle, Taylor Dayne, I'd love to record with any of them.

Are you happy?
Yes, I am happy. I pinch myself sometimes because I've been so lucky. I've been blessed by the universe and now I'm able to give back to the universe through my work. The universe gives rewards when you give back to it.

So what's in store for the future?
VH-1 asked me to do thirteen more shows and I'm going to be touring with the new album soon. I don't know if we're gonna hit Milwaukee.

Probably not. There's nowhere here for you to hit. One last question: Who would you like to be stranded on a desert isle with?
Well, George, of course!! But for fun's sake, Matthew Modine or Antonio Sabato Jr. They're both so cute - I would do them in an instant.

Ru, thanks for the interview, best of luck with the new show...... NYTix

 

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