From Ru’s rise to prominence in the early ‘90s to the multimedia brand he’s become today, RuPaul Andre Charles has become a subversive pop-culture institution, a guide to learning to love yourself and one of the most iconic bastions of all things glam. From film to television to music and makeup, Ru has broken barriers and, seemingly against all odds, bent mainstream culture to his will.
Prior to the empire though, RuPaul was just a punk kid in 1980s Atlanta. From the underground scene, Ru first began with gender-fuck before evolving his drag look into the striking beauty we know today. After his single “Supermodel (You Better Work)” became a hit on MTV, the Ru-volution was in full effect. A talk show, film appearances and several more dance albums followed, but they didn’t capture the same success. The real ru-surgence (I swear that’s my last one) came in 2009 with the launch of RuPaul’s Drag Race, one of the most brilliant reality-TV competitions of all time and the cornerstone of the Logo Network.
While critically-lauded and a winner of a GLAAD Media Award, the show did run into some controversy last season. The show has weathered criticisms for using transphobic language, and Ru, adored for his warmth and sensitivity, pushed back in interviews. He shared his feelings following Lance Bass’ apology for using the word "tranny" in a 2011 interview with the Huffington Post: "I love the word 'tranny'...And I hate the fact that he's apologized. I wish he would have said, 'F-you, you tranny jerk!'" It was a stance seemingly at odds with the show’s open embrace of trans contestants like Sonique, Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz during and after the competition. However, it was a segment called “female or she-male” that finally forced the show’s hand. Outcry over the mini-challenge led to the pulling of the episode and the loss of the recurring “She-Mail” bit.
With season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race just around the corner, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite RuPaul moments, AFTER THE JUMP …