“You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.” —RuPaul
Born RuPaul Andre Charles, November 17, 1960, celebrity drag queen and entrepreneur RuPaul has worked with the likes of Diana Ross, Elton John, Spike Lee and countless other superstars. At 6’4”, she stands to be the most famous drag queen to walk the Earth. While others have certainly come before her, none have seemed to achieve the level of prosperity or success as RuPaul. With two television shows airing on LOGO—RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag U—and a rising social media empire, RuPaul is cashing in big time and just might be the next big media mogul. BlackEnterprise.com Decodes her rise to the top. Sashay! —Sirita Wright
THE POWER OF SOUND & WORDS
An international music star, RuPaul has released 10 albumsover her career, including her most-talked about 1993 LP, Supermodel of the World, which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart in 1994. RuPaul’s latest albums, Champion (2009) and Glamazon (2011), showed the “Kathie Lee” queen still has it, with both albums ranking in the top 20 of Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums chart—No. 12 (2010) and No. 11 (2011), respectively. And no less than two years after the release of her debut album, RuPaul published her autobiography, Lettin It All Hang Out: An Autobiography (1995), with Publishers Weekly saying, “Some of the most unforgettable women in the world… are men.” Continuing on her found talents as an author, she released her self-help book, Workin’ It! RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Style (2010).
CHANGING THE CHANNEL
Aside from her multiple TV (All My Children, Sister, Sister and Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and movie appearances (Spike Lee’s Crooklyn , To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, The Brady Bunch Movie, A Very Brady Sequel and The Truth About Jane), RuPaul hosted her own VH1 talk show, The RuPaul Show, from 1996 to 1998. Nearly a decade later, LOGO premiered RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality series that follows 13 contestants around to find “the next superstar drag queen of America.” Now in its fourth season, the show’s rating rose 50% from season three, causing the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race to become the highest-rated premiere to air on LOGO in network history. That success led two spin-off shows, RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, which follows the behind-the-scenes cat-fights and drama between queens while the judges mull over their fate; and RuPaul’s Drag U, where drag “professors” transform the style of the everyday woman and help her unleash her “inner diva.”
In 1995, RuPaul became the first spokesmodel and only drag queen for MAC Cosmetics’ VIVA Glam collection. A year later, she endorsed Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur via national print advertisements. In addition to her individual accomplishments, the fabulous queen’s successful show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, has acquired partnerships with some of today’s leading companies. During and after the show, the winner and contestants receive cruises sponsored by AlandChuck.travel; a lifetime supply of NYX Cosmetics; headlining the LOGO tour sponsored by ABSOLUT® Vodka and $100,000, the largest cash prize since the show’s inception. And having her foot in design, Ru launched a shoe line, RuPaul Drag Race Footwear by Iron Fist, on March 15 to accompany her highly-rated reality series and offer women shoes in all sizes.
ALL HAIL THE QUEEN
RuPaul’s popularity extends far beyond the LGBT community. Recognized worldwide for her pioneering spirit and self-love philosophy, she has received two GLAAD Media Awards in addition to a NewNowNext Award for Most Addictive Reality Star. She was also nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in 1993 for Best Dance Video for her single, “Supermodel.” RuPaul’s Drag Race was also nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best New Reality Show.
Deeply engaged in social media, RuPaul and her team use many avenues to reach beyond their general audience to keep them active and informed. With over 170,000 Twitter followers and over 570,000 fans on the Drag RaceFacebook fan page, Ru interacts with her fans daily allowing them to participate in contests, watch episode previews and behind-the-scenes footage. And with Foursquare becoming as big as Twitter, RuPaul’s Drag Race and the go-to check in for social media have teamed up to create scavenger hunts and badges for Race fans to check in locations for their fans. With her hands all over the media world, Ru is also active in the app world, with the “Dragulator” app for the iPhone and Android where people can upload pictures of themselves and create a drag persona complete with name, hair, makeup and clothes. “You betta work!”