RuPaul on the Next Generation of Drag Queens, Doing it for Love, and Never Going Mainstream
RuPaul has been called many things throughout his 29-year career. A man; a woman; a drag queen, but nobody can deny that the performer is nothing short than a legend, even if he denies taking on that label. "That's for others to decide or say, but not me," says the 50-year-old (what? how!?) entertainment icon. Co-produced with Lucien Piane, RuPaul released his first album in two years, Glamazon, which, due to the success of his popular television program, RuPaul's Drag Race, has catapulted the record to his best first week album sales since 1997. The Amazo Glamazon himself will be at Amoeba Records in Hollywood tomorrow, so we gave him a call and talked about nurturing the next generation of drag queens, and never going mainstream:
LA WEEKLY: Why release a record now?
RUPAUL: Because I have a TV show to promote, duh! (laughs)
Of all times to release a record called Glamazon, why now as opposed to any other time since it's such a fitting, relevant title for a RuPaul album?
It's a reoccurring theme, especially because of the television show. We nurture and fine-tune glamazons and its so much part of the venacular that we use. These kids are beautiful, courageous and heroic, and ultimately over creative so that's really what a glamazon is.
Your career has transcended many stereotypes and genres and has eclipsed pretty much any single word to describe it. But with the success of Drag Race, and the music business pretty much being in the toilet, why do you still have the desire to release an album?
Music has and always will be a part of my life, whether people bought it or not. Truthfully, I'm not doing it for the money. I don't have a Warner Bros. or a company like that behind me. it's my own label and my own thing. I can do what I want and that's the way I like it. And besides, I've never been mainstream anyway.
The show has been doing well, both critically and ratings-wise. What are some of the highlights make it worthwhile, from a personal standpoint, as opposed to some of the obvious reasons?
Knowing that these girls are set for life. If they want to work, that the opportunities are out there for them. They're doing commercials and touring around the world because of the show. It's really nurturing this next generation of drag queens.
Is it as easy as it seems on TV?
Sometimes, but the bottom line is that we're having a blast, even though it's hard work. I've been working with the same staff for the past 26 years, wow 26 years, did I just say that?! Anyway, we can flex our pop culture muscles and educate a new generation of kids to become their gay mentors.
What is the best example of you guiding your apprentices?
There was one young girl, who said she wanted to do a routine like Anna Nicole Smith but also said she could pull off a Monique routine. Well, she looked a hell of a more like Monique, but she had to figure it out herself because as much as she needs guidance, she needed to know she was more Monique than Anna Nicole and eventually she did and it all worked out!
RuPaul will be appearing at Amoeba Records in Hollywood on Thursday May 26 at 6 pm.