Categories: LGBT History Month

Gay History Month: RuPaul

RuPaul is one of the world’s most famous drag queens. He is a successful actor, singer and television host.

Born RuPaul Andre Charles in San Diego, Calif., RuPaul learned about fashion from his mother and three sisters. His parents divorced when he was 7. At 16, he moved to Atlanta to live with his sister and brother-in-law.

In Atlanta, RuPaul studied acting, performed as a bar dancer and sang with a band. He gained national exposure with a cameo role dancing in the video for the B-52s’ “Love Shack.” In 1987, RuPaul moved to New York, where he became a popular entertainer in the Manhattan nightclub scene. He was crowned “Queen of Manhattan 1990.”

In 1993, RuPaul collaborated with Elton John on a remake of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” The following year, RuPaul had his first solo hit single, “Supermodel (You Better Work),” which topped the dance music charts. Three more dance hits followed: “Back to My Roots,” “A Shade Shady” and “House of Love.”

His appearances in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (1995), along with the release of his autobiography Lettin It All Hang Out (1996), landed RuPaul a talk show on VH1. He described the The RuPaul Show as “the most creatively satisfying, fun-filled working experience I’ve ever had.” That same year, he became a spokesperson for M.A.C Cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. In six years, RuPaul helped raise over $22 million for the M.A.C AIDS Fund.

RuPaul had a role in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). In the late 1990s, he co-hosted the morning show on WKTU-FM, a New York dance music station. He produced and starred in the film Starrbooty (2007), which he adapted into a nightclub act. He is the host and executive producer of RuPaul’s Drag Race and hosts RuPaul’s Drag U on Logo.

In 1999, RuPaul was named Entertainer of The Year at the GLAAD Media Awards. In 2002, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Most Beautiful Transsexuals in the World Association.

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