Amid all of the hoopla connected to tonight’s second season premiere of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race‘ (10pm on Logo) America’s most famous drag queen took some time while in Los Angeles last week to savor the occasion.
“I went driving around all over town late at night looking for billboards,” RuPaul told Fancast after returning to New York. “The thrill of something like that never worn off on me. At the corner of Santa Monica and La Brea, I was on the phone and looked over and was, ‘Oh my God.’ There it is!'”
RuPaul is a showbiz veteran who has released several albums, had movie and TV roles and even hosted a talk show. But none have approached the breakout success of ‘Drag Race’ which is a search for America’s next drag superstar. It’s the first reality show to feature drag queens and the series of competitions that pit them against each other are based on RuPaul’s own experiences when he was a fixture on the Atlanta and New York City club scene.
In the second season premiere, the queens must reinvent their drag looks using only a set of curtains and household items. Kathy Griffin joins the fun tonight as a guest judge.
“Kathy is a very smart woman and she understands that duality,” RuPaul said. “She understands what showbiz is. She’s a great judge and she knows how to put on a show. That’s what these kids are asked to do. They are asked to put their best foot forward and make it work. These are things I’ve had to do to become the world’s most famous drag queen. Asking them to do it really does test whether they have what it takes.”
What will it take to win?
“Charisma, talent, it takes that it factor,” RuPaul said. “It takes more than being hungry. You have to be present and clear enough to know what the situation calls for.”
‘Drag Race’ immediately took off last year, quickly becoming the biggest hit in Logo’s history.
“I knew it would take off the way it did,” RuPaul said. “People have always loved drag since beginning of time, they didn’t always admit it. It personifies the duality that lives in all of us. If you’ve ever stepped in front of a camera or on stage, you understand you are doing drag, Your persona in the public eye is not the you who has burnt toast in the morning. You are born naked and the rest is drag. People don’t want to hear that because the ego mind is so strong. I’ve been saying that for years and people refuse to absorb that information.”
RuPaul is happy to be providing others with a career boost through ‘Drag Race,’ the kind of show that would have been unimaginable when he was starting out..
“The biggest reward here is to be able to offer a platform for those who are coming up. I’ve pretty much been the only one out there,” he said. “To have people to play with, to have people in this field and share a spotlight with is fantastic. I’ve had a wonderful, successful run and it’s fun to share it with the younger generation. I know it sounds like a UNICEF speech, but it really is.”
“Watching the TV show is really a study in tenacity of human spirit,” he added. “We have these little boys who grew up to be drag queens who have the tenacity to keep at it in a male society where behaving in a feminine manner is treason to have that moxie and chutzpah you can’t poo poo that, that’s the stuff empires are built.”
And who better than RuPaul to show them how it’s done?
“For the first 10 years of my career, I could have been arrested but I was doing it anyway,” he said. “No one has come close to what I have done. I really am surprised. I think honestly I was very lucky, I think it’s my work ethic. I love to stay busy and work, I love the creativity of it even when I wasn’t making a damned dime. But it’s harder when you don’t have competition. Once you get successful, once you hit your mark and find yourself, there’s the act of maintaining it. Given a male dominated society where you behave in a feminine manner or take on femininity you will be up against a lot of people’s negative conditioning.”