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RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960), best known as simply RuPaul, is an American actor, drag queen, model, and singer-songwriter, who first gained fame in the 1990s when he appeared in a wide variety of television programs, films, and musical albums. Previous to this he was a fixture on the Atlantamarker and New York Citymarker club scenes. RuPaul has on occasion performed as a man in a number of roles, usually billed as RuPaul Charles. RuPaul is noted among famous drag queens for his indifference towards the gender-specific pronouns used to address him—both "he" and "she" have been deemed acceptable. "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." He hosted a long-running talk show on VH1, and currently hosts a reality television show called RuPaul's Drag Race.


Born in San Diegomarker, Californiamarker, RuPaul struggled as a musician and filmmaker in Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker during the 1980s. He participated in underground cinema, helping create the low-budget Starrbooty (and an album by the same name). In Atlanta, RuPaul often performed at the Celebrity Club (managed by Larry Tee) as a bar dancer or with his band, Wee Wee Pole, which included the late Todd Butler.

In the early 1990s, RuPaul worked the Georgia club scene and was known as by his full birth name. Initially participating in "genderfuck"-style performances, RuPaul performed solo and in collaboration with other bands at several New Yorkmarker nightclubs, most notably the Pyramid Club. He appeared for many years at the annual Wigstock drag festival and contributed an appearance to the documentary Wigstock: The Movie. In the '90s, RuPaul was known in the UK for his appearances on the Channel 4 series Manhattan Cable, a weekly series produced by World of Wonder and presented by American Laurie Pike about New York's wild and wacky Public-access television system.


In 1993 RuPaul recorded dance/house albums which included Supermodel of the World. They were released through the hardcore rap label Tommy Boy, spawning the dance track hit "Supermodel ", which was a hit song for RuPaul. The music video was an unexpected success on MTV channels, as grunge-rock (Nirvana) and gangsta rap were popular at the time. The song peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. It further charted on the UK Singles Chart, peaking on the top 40 at #39. The song found the most success peaking at number 2 on the US dance music charts (known as the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart). Airplay, heavy rotation of the music video on the MTV network and television appearances on popular programs like The Arsenio Hall Show popularized the song.

His next two songs/videos, "Back to My Roots" and "A Shade Shady " both went #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts and further developed his campy persona. Between them, House of Love was released without a video. It failed to place on any US charts, despite rising to #68 on the UK Singles Chart.

RuPaul caused a controversy at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards when he presented an award with actor Milton Berle, who performed an altogether different type of drag early in his career. The two had conflicts back-stage, and when Berle inappropriately touched RuPaul's breasts, RuPaul ad-libbed the line "So you used to wear gowns, but now you're wearing diapers." A surprised Berle replied, "Oh, we're going to ad lib? I'll check my brain and we'll start even." The press picked this up as a crack in the "love everyone" message RuPaul presented, and depicted the incident as a young newcomer treating a legend poorly. This year would also mark his biggest hit on The UK Singles Chart, a remake of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Elton John, which went to number seven. It was around this time that RuPaul co-hosted the BRIT Awards in Londonmarker, also with Elton John.

RuPaul was signed to a modeling contract for MAC cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. Various billboards featured him in full drag, often with the text "I am the MAC girl." As well at this time he released his autobiography, Lettin' It All Hang Out. He promoted that book in part with a 1995 guest appearance on ABC's All My Children, in a storyline that put him on the set of Erica Kane's talk show "The Cutting Edge."

The next year he landed a talk show of his own on VH1, called The RuPaul Show, where he interviewed celebrity guests and musical acts. Nirvana (even though Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994), Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, Mary J. Blige, Bea Arthur, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Beenie Man, Pete Burns, Bow Wow Wow, and the Backstreet Boys were notable guests. His co-host was Michelle Visage, with whom he also co-hosted on WKTU radio. On one episode, RuPaul featured guests Chi Chi LaRue and Tom Chase speaking about the gay porn industry.

Later in the year he would release his second album, Foxy Lady, this time on the LA based Rhino Records label. Despite his growing celebrity, it failed to chart within the Billboard 200. However, the first single "Snapshot" found success in the dance market and went to number four on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It also enjoyed limited mainstream success, charting at number ninety-five on the Billboard Hot 100 (which was his second and only other Hot 100 entry). The second single "Little Bit of Love" only charted at number 28 on the hot dance music/club play chart. The album featured covers of a 1981 Diana Ross song Work That Body co-written by Paul Jabara and "If You Were a Woman and I was a Man" originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler. Because of his strong fan base within the gay community, RuPaul has performed at gay pride events and numerous gay clubs. During this time RuPaul helped launch the return of WKTU radio in New York Citymarker and would serve as host (with Michelle Visage) of the morning show until 1998.

In 1997, he released a Christmas album entitled Ho, Ho, Ho. He has had guest appearances in many films, including both Brady Bunch movies, in which he played Jan's female guidance counselor. In 1997, RuPaul teamed with Martha Wash to remake the classic disco anthem, "It's Raining Men". The song was included in the 1998 compilation CD RuPaul's Go Go Box Classics, which was a collection of some of his favorite dance songs by other artists; this would be his third and final release through Rhino Records and a major record label. It was during this time that he appeared in Webex TV commercials and magazine ads. In 2001 he recorded with Brigitte Nielsen, credited as Gitta, the Eurodance track You're no lady.

In 2004, RuPaul released his third album, Red Hot, on his own RuCo Inc. label. It received some dance radio and club play, but very little press coverage. On his blog, RuPaul discussed how he felt betrayed by the entertainment industry, particularly the gay press. In one incident, it was noted that the magazine Entertainment Weekly refused to review the album, instead asking him to make a comedic contribution to a fashion article. He likened the experience to "a black person being invited to a party, but only if they'll serve." Despite his apparent dissatisfaction with the release, "Red Hot" showed RuPaul returning to the top of the dance charts in the US with the lead off single "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" hitting number two on the dance chart. The second, "Workout", peaked at number five. The third and final single from the album "People are People" a duet with Tom Trujillo peaked at number 10. The album itself only charted on the Top Electronic Albums chart, where it hit number nine. When asked about this in an interview, RuPaul said, "Well, betrayed might be the wrong word. ‘Betrayed’ alludes to an idea that there was some kind of a promise made to me, and there never was. More so, I was disappointed. I don’t feel like it was a betrayal. Nobody promises anything in show business and you understand that from day one. But, I don’t know what happened. It seemed I couldn’t get press on my album unless I was willing to play into the role that the mainstream press has assigned to gay people, which is as servants of straight ideals."

On June 13, 2006, RuPaul released ReWorked, his fifth album. It features reworked versions of songs from his back catalog, as well as new recordings. The only single released from the album is a re-recording of "Supermodel (You Better Work)", reaching number twenty-one on theU.S. dance chart. June 20, 2007 saw the release of "Starrbooty (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on iTunes in the US. A CD version is available from RuPaul's official website. The single "Call Me Starrbooty" was digitally released in 2007. The album contains new tracks from the singer as well as interludes with dialogue from the movie. The film was released on DVD in October 2007.

In mid 2008, RuPaul began producing RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality television game show which aired on Logo in February 2009. On the show, top drag queens compete to be selected by RuPaul and a panel of judges as the number one drag performer in the country. The winner of Season 1 was Bebe Zahara Benet. One of the contestants, Nina Flowers, was chosen by fans as "Miss Congeniality" through voting on In publicity preparation for the new show, RuPaul made appearances as a guest on several other shows in 2008 including as a guest judge on Season 5, Episode 6 of Project Runway and as a guest "chef" on Paula's Party.

Logo's Second Annual "NewNowNext Awards" 2009 were hosted by RuPaul. There he performed his new single "Jealous Of My Boogie".




Year Song U.S. Pop U.S Club Play U.S Hot Dance Airplay U.S. Dance Singles UK Singles Chart
1987 "Ping Ting Ting" ( as "RuPaul Andre Charles") - - - - -
1991 "I've Got That Feelin'" - - - - -
1992 "Supermodel " 45 2 - - 39
1993 "Everybody Dance" (Europe only) - - - - -
"House of Love" (Europe only) - - - - 40
"A Shade Shady (Now Prance)" - 1 - - -
"Back to My Roots" - 1 - - 40
"Little Drummer Boy" - - - - 61
1994 "The Extravaganza Megamix" - - - - -
"Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" - - - - -
1995 "Free To Be" - - - - -
1996 "Snapshot" 95 4 - - -
1997 "A Little Bit of Love" - 28 - - -
"Celebrate" - 34 - - -
"Funky Christmas" - - - - -
2004 "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" - 2 - - -
2005 "Workout" - 5 - - -
2006 "People Are People (featuring Tom Trujillo)" - 10 - - -
"Supermodel (The RuMixes)" - 21 - - -
2007 "Call Me Starrbooty" - - - - -
2009 "Cover Girl" - 16 - 9 -
"Jealous Of My Boogie" - - - - -

Other works

  • Gagging on the Lovely Extravaganza (1992) [The Return of the Fabulous Pop Tarts]
  • Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1993) (#7 UK) [Remake, duet w/Elton John, from Elton John's album "Duets"]
  • Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get (1994) [from "Music From The Motion Picture Addams Family Values"]
  • I Will Survive (1995) (UK Top 20) [featured on the video to the Diana Ross remake]
  • Free To Be (1995) (from "Wigstock: The Movie, Music From The Original Motion Picture)
  • It's Raining Men...The Sequel (1995) (#21 UK, #22 US Dance) (Remake, duet w/Martha Wash, from Martha Wash's album "The Collection" and "RuPaul's Go Go Box Classics" compilation album)
  • Come (1997) [Writer, sung by Martha Wash, from Martha Wash's album "The Collection"]
  • Everybody Say Love (1993) [Writer, sung by Mitsou, from Mitsou's album "Tempted"]
  • Do The Right Thing (Don't Do Me Wrong) (1999) [Writer & Backing Vocalist, sung by Ev-Va]
  • Queer Duck (1999) [Theme Song vocalist, voice for Lucky Duck]
  • Super (1999) [from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut - Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture"]
  • Bad Girl (2000) [Unreleased, Recorded for Lil Kim's album "Notorious Kim"]
  • Say My Name (2001) [w/The Disco Brothers]
  • You're No Lady (2002) [duet w/Gitta aka Brigitte Nielsen]
  • It's Only Rock 'n Roll (2003) [Backing Vocalist, sung by Siedah Garrett]
  • Electric Ecstacy (2004) [Eklektica featuring RuPaul, available from iTunes]
  • Come 2 Me (2006) [ Lucy Lawless featuring RuPaul, available from]
  • Computer Love (2007) [NSA featuring RuPaul, available from iTunes]


During 2006, a series of "demos" were available to download to fans through the official RuPaul MySpace page.

  • StarrBooty '91 (Rare Demo)
  • Free to Be (Steve Silk Hurley '94)
  • Love Your Funky Self (Steve Silk Hurley '94)
  • Don't Walk Away (Steve Silk Hurley '94)

  • You're No Lady (Spanish Radio Edit) performed by RuPaul vs. Gitta
  • Say My Name performed by DiscoBros. featuring RuPaul
  • You're No Lady (Radio Edit) performed by RuPaul vs. Gitta

  • Dog Done Bit'cha

  • Electric Ecstasy (Club Remix) performed by Eklektica featuring RuPaul




Short Films

  • The Blue Boy Terror (1983)
  • Wild Thing (1983)
  • Terror II (1983)
  • Terror 3D (1984)
  • Mahogany II (1986)
  • Psycho Bitch (1986)
  • American Porn Star (1986)
  • Voyeur (1987)
  • Police Lady (1987)
  • Cupcake (1989)
  • Vampire Hustlers (1989)
  • Beauty (1989)
  • The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
  • Skin Walker (2004)
  • Zombie Prom (2006) as Ms. Strict
  • How We Got Over (2008)

TV series

See also


External links

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