RuPaul’s The Guardian Interview On Life, Love, Parenthood, Drag, Drag Race, Gender Politics

DragCon2016_RuPaul_Keynote_speechRuPaul sat down with The Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead to talk about… what I call… familiar RuPaul topics: drag, Drag Race, gender, his journey, love, relationship & parenthood. If you listen to his podcast, “RuPaul ‘What’s the tee? With Michelle Visage”, religiously like I do, it won’t take long for you to recognized familiar topics and anthems he talks about with great authority. He is consistent and unwavering with his principles and wisdom. The number one reason why I am such a huge fan of him and why I take heed about the things he says is that his principles and ideals resonates with mine. I don’t believe him just because he’s the drag supermodel of the world, but mainly because his belief system jives with mine. I can relate to his life lessons. And I have a penchant for credibility, consistency, integrity and practical wisdom. And he’s all that. When I listen to him talk, about almost anything — be it from his podcast, from a stage or in person — it’s almost like going to church and listening to your Pastor giving a sermon. He’s a very engaging and genuine person. At 140 podcasts, each at least an hour long, I’ve taken a lot of notes I can apply to own life journey. I can count how many times I disagree with him… less than a handful, and they’re often trivial; coconut oil, sea salt, and Red Bull diet. lol For my own direction and choices, I find his direction aligning or intersecting with mine at some point.  Like something as trivial as ditching cable television (years before he did), or favoring Netflix over traditional programming, or other random things (such as wondering when he’s going to get his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two years before the fact, or floating the idea of RuPaul headlining in Las Vegas, I’m sure they talked about it decades before I even thought and wrote about it), or anticipating DragCon two years prior its’ debut, or something as profound as being given a break.

The Break: I wanted to photograph the red carpet of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 finale as part of my press coverage. The taping was scheduled two days after DragCon. I saw him and a few of his staff walking on the lobby at DragCon before preview night. I was there to claim my badges and for the preview.  I approached him just to say “Hi” — he doesn’t like to take random selfies or photos because people don’t know how to work a phone camera quickly and properly. He remembered who I was. He held me by the waist while we’re exchanging pleasantries ushering me to their direction, and I said to myself, “okay, we’re walking with RuPaul.”  While we’re walking towards the mezzanine floor, I said to myself, “say something!” So I blurted out while we were ascending on the escalator that I wanted to shoot the red carpet and wanted to know where I can apply for a press pass. When we got on the mezzanine floor, RuPaul stood still for a moment then instructed his assistant to find out the details and give me the information I needed. The next 24 hours was a flurry of emails between his assistant and Press Relations at VH1 (carbon copied to me). Before the first day at DragCon was over I got my press pass to shoot at the finale red carpet. I was excited, grateful, shooked at the lightning response, overjoyed and so very thankful to RuPaul and the people who helped me out. That was my first time witnessing first hand what star power can do. My first red carpet experience was phenomenal. It helped that I’ve meet and photographed many of the attending Queens prior that it felt like a reunion. And then, at the taping, I saw RuPaul in full drag for the first time with my naked eyes, at a mere stone’s throw away on seventh row. The whole experience felt like the third coming of Jesus Christ.

His advice and life lessons helped me tackle many difficult decisions in my life. And it still continue to do so. So as a thank you, I continue to diligently and religiously help spread the word about his podcast, so others may learn something from it too. RuPaul’s answers in The Guardian interview are all familiar mantras, and I agree with him. But not everyone understands him… I dare say, especially the younger crowd. Like that whole issue about “She-Mail”, it’s word-play and comes from love, they should bring it back. He would’ve if it’s only up to him. As well, my take on “drag” is, by definition it should just be about cis men dressing up as a woman. To me, the mysticism and magic around it is lost without the tucking, for one thing. To me, if you’re already a woman (cis or trans – m2f post op) the work is done… a woman in “drag” is a woman in a costume with heavy make-up … a parody of drag — it doesn’t make it any good or bad, technically it’s just not it. Maybe trans women can still be called “drag Queens”, but it’s a gray area to me. I’ve already read fans reacting harshly to RuPaul’s response about having trans women on the show. And it’s not far fetched to assume it’s coming from younger people (because some of them these days tend to feel so entitled that they think their entitlement has to be enshrined at everything regardless of criteria or requirement. I should know, I have seven millennial siblings. And I’ve seen this behavior up close and was bothered by some of it long before people popular culture gave it a name and did studies about it. I’ve never been a fan of people who didn’t earn their keep.). I believe his wisdom and principles will stand the test of time… because they’re grounded and based on real-world experiences and facts. At the end of the day, after this me-me-me movement is over, he’ll continue to be proven right. Why? Because some of the demands of some movements these days are unsustainable and utopian. Meanwhile, read the full article. It’s a great read. RuPaul-The-Guardian-Interview

“In the subculture of drag you do occasionally find what are known as “bio queens” – biological women who mimic the exaggerated femininity of drag. Would RuPaul allow a biological woman to compete on the show? He hesitates. “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.””—Decca Aitkenhead/The Guardian

[ Update 2018-03-05 ]

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