Fabulousness certainly does come in threes. The spectacular third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race is airing on Logo, RuPaul’s vast career in drag enters decade num- ber three...and now I have the pleasure of conducting my third interview with the globally celebrated icon of inclusivity and poise. Whether it’s drag, music, personal reinvention or her legendary pursuit of style, Ru has always done it all with love. We were lucky enough to spend a few minutes chatting with the "supermodel of the world"and found out why love is here to stay!
Congratulations on Season Three of Drag Race!
Don’t you mean condragulations, David? (laughter)
I love that the number of episodes has gone up from last season’s 12 to a total of 16!
Well, you get a hit show...and they want more! Espe- cially after doing this for 29 years!
Have you been making music this whole time as well?
I have! My first record came out in 1983 with my band at the time called Wee Wee Pole. On my own, I recorded an EP called Sex Freak. Then in 1991, I signed with Tommy Boy Records and "Supermodel (You Better Work)" came out in November of 1992.
In the years since then, how has making music changed for you?
I’ve gained more confidence in what my voice is-not just literally, but figuratively. Achieving the end result has become clearer. It’s interesting because I just bought Duran Duran’s latest album on iTunes. It is so, SO good. It’s unfortunate that their audience-the people who know who they are from years past-don’t buy records anymore! Here they are in the prime of their music- making career-the same with Kylie Minogue! They’re at their best, the top of their game. But their audience has diminished because the people who buy music are between the ages of 11 and 25. So unless you appeal to them, nobody’s going to hear it!
Speaking of iTunes, your remix album (also called Drag Race) sounds great! My favorite song, "Champion," in particular has not lost any of its spirit in the remix process.
Yeah! Actually we use the song on Season 3 of the Logo show Drag Race when the girls walk the runway. I love that song. We also used the Stock/Aitken/Water- man version of "Main Event." Stock/Aitken/Waterman is a production team that was really big in the ’80s and produced Kylie’s first stuff and Bananarama too. I’m actu- ally putting the finishing touches on a new album called Glamazon, which will come out in April. It’s dance-pop, but it’s really good! I’m excited about it. Champion was my best album ever, and Glamazon definitely rivals that.
What were your inspirations for this new album, Glamazon?
It’s the show. It’s the queens I get to work with. It’s really always about people being reborn and realizing their greatness-owning it. Even in Drag Race Season Three, the big storyline there is watching people overcome their self-saboteur. Now, you’re 27. You’re about to enter your"Saturn Returns"-which is when the planet Saturn aligns to the exact same position it was in when you were born. It’s quite the revelation. Some people have a hard time with it because you have to look at yourself in a different way. This album, Glamazon, is really about that. Even the shows, Drag Race and Drag U, they’re about people becoming aware of their power and not being afraid of it.
The contestants of Drag Race Season Three look as energetic and fabulous as ever! Now that you’ve brought the art of drag into the limelight, have you noticed a change in the contestants?
Not as much as I’d like to. If there is a Season Four, I hope to see a new crop coming into the game inspired by the queens they’ve seen on the previous seasons. A lot of girls come with their own taglines. They’ve watched my career, they know I’ve got, "You better work" and "If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell..." and "...don’t fuck it up!"you know? (laughter) It’s so funny watching some of the girls trying to push their taglines into the show. So they understand the format, they come ready to com- pete and brand themselves-which is smart. But there’s room for more. We’ve almost run out of queens, actually! People get it confused, they think we’re just looking for drag queens. We SCOURED the United States for "work- ing girls"-queens who are true showgirls, not just girls who have a pussycat wig and a pair of slingbacks. The competition is fierce and the girls have to be able to pull from resources and their experience.
Can you give us a clue as to who we can expect in the judge’s chairs?
The first episode featured Vanessa Williams. She is a big fan through her 12-year-old daughter-who is absolutely obsessed with the show. So Vanessa wanted to do the show to impress her daughter. Then we got the great Lily Tomlin and the complex and multi-faceted talents of Miss La Toya Jackson. You know, the show was conceived with Michelle Visage in mind in a permanent seat at the judge’s table, but before now, contractually she couldn’t do it. She and I share a long history. We had a radio show in New York about 15 years ago and then she was my co-host on my VH-1 talk show. She has elevated the judges’panel ten-fold.
RuPaul’s Drag U was another wonderful idea of yours. Where did the inspiration for this show come from?
It spawned from letters we received for Drag Race from women around the world, all asking"what can you do for me? I became a mother...a wife...I’ve lost my mojo. How can you help?" So that show was born. I know what it’s like to put yourself second or third...or not even think of yourself at all. It’s a constant reminder to myself: never play small. You’re doing nobody a favor by playing small. And this goes for you too. Remember this: on the surface you may think,"I’m do- ing this so my loved ones don’t feel intimidated by me,"or "I don’t want to seem too smart or too bright."FUCK THAT SHIT! That’s my way of giving back, not only to these women, but also to myself.
That reminds me of the attitude behind your book, Workin’ It! RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style. It’s an important work!
I think so! I wish more people would get on board, but many are intimidated by that message. Most people have a problem playing their greatness, I understand it.
With all your projects, do you have time to yourself away from the camera?
I do! I insist on it. I get up very early in the morning and meditate at 6:30 a.m. and then I’ll go on a hike in these beautiful hills in L.A. and listen to my music. I just need that foundation so I can remember what’s real-what I’m here for.
Do you have plans for St. Valentine’s Day?
You know, it usually comes and goes without me noticing it. It’s sort of one of those made-up things I don’t pay attention to. Easter is my favorite of all because the idea of a resurrection is so beautiful to me. Drag in general is like a resurrection of the spirit.
Have you visited your native San Diego lately?
I was down there for a book signing last June. My sister still lives down there in the house where we grew up. I don’t go as often as I’d like. I left when I was 15. Then I’d come back periodically to see my mom or stay when I was out of money or homeless. But for the most part, I’ve been gone for so long. Speaking of which, I have to go now. Lovely, lovely talking to you!
You’re an inspiration as always. Thank you very much!
That’s sweet. I hope I can be. Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy Season Three of Drag Race!