Mama Ru became a popular fixture on the nightclub scene and achieved international fame as a drag queen with the release of his debut single, “Supermodel (You Better Work.) In 1994, Ru became a spokesman for MAC Cosmetics, raising money for the Mac AIDS Fund. In the same year, he received his own talk show, The RuPaul Show, on VH1. For us millennials, we know Ru best for the hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, having celebrated its tenth season this year. Ru keeps going from strength to strength, so let’s dive a little further into his life and find out who really lies underneath the wig and Klein Epstein and Parker suit.
36. He was kicked out of high school
Fun Fact: young RuPaul gives me life pic.twitter.com/L3a7V4OV1v
— tarynnnn (@t4tBowser) December 27, 2016
Some people and school just really don’t mix. This was exactly the case for Ru.
He was kicked out of Patrick Henry High School in the 11th grade because of persistent truancy.
Ru later attended the Northside School of Performing Arts near Atlanta, Georgia.
He didn’t complete his studies there either.
But luckily for Ru, he didn’t need grades darling, just an education on drag herstory.
Who needs grades when you’re the most successful drag queen in America?
35. He is the first drag queen to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
RuPaul made history in March 2018 when he became the first drag queen to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the ceremony, he was introduced by Jane Fonda.
The star of classic movies such as Barbarella and The China Syndrome spoke about Ru’s intelligence and compassion.
She said that he deserved a star three times the size of a normal one.
In his acceptance speech, Ru said it was: “absolutely the most important moment in my professional career,” wearing a colourful suit and trademark sunglasses.
34. He’s married to an Australian painter
— Celebrity News (@celebnewsnetwrk) September 4, 2019
Ru is famously private about his, well, private life, and doesn’t often reveal much about it.
One aspect where he has opened up a little, is his marriage to Georges LeBar.
Ru met the Australian painter whilst at the Limelight club in New York, way back in 1994.
When we say painter, we don’t mean he will decorate your walls.
— r/Pics Bot (@Reddit_Pics_Bot) October 3, 2020
He paints portraits, and also finds time to run a 50-acre ranch in Wyoming.
33. He made the Times 100 Most Influential People list
In 2017, RuPaul Charles was included in Time Magazine’s list of the most 100 influential planet in the world.
This is easy to see why, considering all of the work done and influence he has had for the LGBTQ+ movement.
The blurb written on the behalf of his induction was done by no other than Naomi Campbell.
She describes meeting Ru and immediately recognising him as a person who knew where he was going in terms of life and career.
Campbell says she knew instinctively to follow his career, because from the instant she saw him, that he knew where he was going professionally based on his attitude, and “that was where I wanted to be.”
32. He was named after a food
Many people may be mistaken in thinking that RuPaul is only his name for his drag persona. These people would be wrong.
RuPaul is his given birth name by his mother, Ernestine “Toni” Charles.
She decided to name him after a kew ingredient in gumbo.
The “Ru” in RuPaul comes from the word “roux,” which is a cooked mix of flour and fat that forms the base for stews and soups.
His mother was a native of Louisiana and named Ru after the base of Cajun cuisine she grew up with, adjusting the spelling slightly of course.
31. His ultimate idol is Judge Judy
In an interview from 2012 in US Weekly, RuPaul said that the person he idolises most is Judge Judy.
Maybe it is her business acumen that he respects, considering that she has negotiated a contract for her show to air through until 2020.
This is a show for which she earns about $47 million a year.
She is also known for being extremely sassy comments and putdowns, just as Ru is on Drag Race.
Judge Judy has also made an appearance on Drag Race, albeit impersonated by Bianca Del Rio in the snatch game.
There was no surprise that Bianca won that week’s challenge, and eventually went on to win season six.
30. Ru is no stranger to making cameos
Ru’s talents seem to be endless…singer…drag queen…judge, so it’s no surprise that acting is also on the list.
You may have seen Ru cameo in a few of your favourite shows throughout the years.
He has appeared on everything from Ugly Betty, to Happy Endings, and a little less-known part in Walker, Texas Ranger.
29. He got his big break in a music video
Talking of appearing in things, Ru’s first break was appearing in a music video.
After fronting indie bands during the 1980s, Ru was featured in the music video to the classic ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52’s.
He appears as a dancer in drag, which lead to him featuring in other music videos and eventually having his own singing career.
He has cowritten five albums to date, and his hit single “Supermodel (You Better Work” reached 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.
28. He sleeps with a stuffed donkey called Jimmy
In the same US Weekly interview where he revealed Judge Judy to be his icon, he also revealed something about his sleeping habits.
As well as his husband, Ru sleeps with a stuffed donkey named Jimmy every night.
Not much more is known about this. Is he a childhood treasure, or has he been acquired more recently?
I guess you will just have to ask him if you ever bump into him.
27. He keeps the winner of Drag Race a secret until it’s aired
The finale is filmed in front of a live audience, but is not broadcast live.
To prevent it leaking who has won, during the theatre performance, RuPaul crowns all of the final queens.
The winning queen only gets to find out they have actually won when the rest of us do, at a crowning party, when their win is aired instead of the other two.
Many of the reaction videos are available on YouTube.
It is really cute seeing how the queens react to their win. My favourite reaction is Bob the Drag Queen’s.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Drag Race…indulge yourself in these little known facts about RuPaul’s hit show….
26. The queens walk the runway twice
Ever wondered how the judges think of those witty runway comments seemingly on the spot?
Maybe it’s because they’re great at one line innuendos?
Maybe it’s because they’re great at one line innuendos? Or maybe it’s because the queens walk the runway twice.
There’s actually a much more plausible explanation!
The first time they walk the runways accompanied by music.
This give the judges a chance to think about anything they might like to say. The queens then walk down the runway with no music as the judges make their comments.
25. You may have seen some of the background cast twice
In Season 5, during the makeover challenge, Jinkx Monsoon was partnered with an old veteran to drag up and make glamorous.
This is the same audience member who falls asleep during Bianco Del Rio’s stand-up in Season 6.
The veteran told Jinkx that he was living with HIV, and that he might not walk very well in heels.
But this didn’t stop him! If you didn’t know who Jinkx was, you’d probably mistake her veteran for the pro!
In Bianca’s stand up performance, she told him to wake up.
Jinkx turned her veteran into a beautiful woman who stunned on the runway.
24. There’s a lucky seat in the snatch game
The snatch game is everyone’s favourite episode, with Queens impersonating their favourite (or least, depending on how they do) celebrity.
Well it seems there’s a lucky spot to be placed in the snatch game that all the queens will hope to be sitting.
The winners of Season 4, 5 and 6 have all sat in the same spot during the game.
Many people who win the Snatch Game go on to win the title of ‘America’s Next Drag Race Superstar.’
These include Jinkx Monsoon, Aquaria and Bob the Drag Queen.
23. Only three queens have won without having to lip sync for their lives
At the end of each episode, two queens are pitted against each other to lip sync for their lives.
At the end of each episode, two queens are pitted against each other to lip sync for their lives.
There are only three winners who never had to lip sync for their lives.
These are Tyra Sanchez, Bianca Del Rio and Violet Chachki.
Violet Chachki was pitted against Pearl Liason and Ginger Minj in the finale of her season.
22. If you’re a vegetarian, probably don’t sign up to do the show
That’s right, if you don’t like a meaty tuck, or just meat in general, don’t sign up to Drag Race!
Controversial and outspoken queen, Willam, was kicked off the show for breaching the rules.
She had ki-ki with her bf in her hotel. She has said that the show did not provide vegetarian catering options.
She said that Sharon Needles substituted on bread dipped in ranch for a month because her vegetarian food needs were never met.
We’re pretty sure that after this T was spilled, the producers sought to address the issue.
I’m sure the catering van has a few different options available now! And if not, come on girl, sort that out!
21. There’s a reason you spot them listening to iPods so much
When the queens are working on their garments in the workroom, you will often see them listening to music.
This is not because they are trying to drown out the voices of their competitors, throwing shade at them.
It is because they are given all of the season’s lip sync songs on an iPod at the beginning of the show.
They are only told a few days prior which song will be used for which episode.
Even though they are told in advance, there are plenty of queens who forget their lines.
Valentina famously tried to lip sync with a mask on because she didn’t know her words.
20. The Queens Are Kept In Secret As To Who Will Be On The Show
Surprise! It’s Shangela, jumping out of that box again!
The contestants have absolutely no idea which fellow queens will be joining them.
They can’t even open the blinds in their hotel rooms in case they see another queen before filming starts.
This is so that their reactions when other queens walk into the workroom are genuine.
Although the reveal is not always a big surprise of ardent fans of the show!
They will see which popular drag queens in America suddenly cancel appearances and shows around the time of the filming, and are usually accurate as to who will appear.
19. All Winning Queens Have Gone On To Release Music
Despite most of the time pretending to sing on the show, many of the winning queens (and queens that haven’t won of course), have gone on to release music to varying degrees of success.
All winners of RPDR have gone on to release their own music, everyone accept Bianco Del Rio.
She went on to release a film instead, called Hurricane Bianca.
The film stars many of Bianca’s fellow drag queens, including Shangela, Willam and Joslyn Fox.
RuPaul even makes a cameo, as RuStorm, a weather reporter.
If Bianca rocked up to be our teacher, we sure as hell wouldn’t give her any lip (seems like she’s got plenty!)
18. A Double Crowning Was Once Filmed
This one would have been extremely interesting to see being played out on screen.
On top of filming the possibility of any of the top queens winning the show, Drag Race also once filmed a possible double win.
This double win would have seen two contestants walking away with a shared crown.
Here’s the video of the final three finding out the result.
This was all the way back in season six, which was an extremely memorable season and featured many big characters.
A situation was filmed where both Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano won jointly. Ultimately, Bianca won solo.
17. Royalty Issues Are A Right Tucking Pain
During All Stars 2, Coco Montrese, for her ‘talent’ section, did a rather odd broadway number.
Why do this when she has a regular slot as a Janet Jackson impersonator in Las Vegas?
Why not do that instead? It was the question on everybody’s lips at the time.
Well, she wanted to, but was apparently stopped from doing so by producers. This was because of royalty issues.
They would’ve had to pay quite a bit of money I imagine for Janet’s songs to be featured.
Instead we were treated to a delightfully weird dancing and singing number.
16. Copyright Prevents The Queens Portraying Characters in The Snatch Game
Similar to queens not being able to sing or perform certain songs due to royalty issues, queens are not allowed to portray ‘characters’ in snatch game. Well, certain characters at least…
This is because those characters are more than likely copyrighted or trademarked to a certain company.
These are mainly characters associated with big companies like Disney etc.
This is the reason why Max couldn’t do Miranda Sings (like she did it on her audition tape.)
It’s also the reason why Raven had to be told to change her outfit for the Season 2 reunion special.
She turned up as the Evil Queen from Snow White.
15. Some Queens Believe The Winner Is Picked From The Start
Some queens have an issue with the way they are ‘edited’ when the episodes are aired.
This is to make them appear a certain way, and to miss bits out for drama.
There are also some queens who believe the winner is picked from the offset.
In season 3, it looks as though Mariah Balenciaga’s lipstick message that she leaves on the mirror after her elimination isn’t shown in its entirety.
When the queens are wiping off her message, it appears that part of the message was wiped away, leaving only her catchphrase, “MUG4DAYZ,” visible.
It appears, too, that the entire message included the name of fellow contestant Raja, and some fans believe what was originally written was “Congratulations Raja.” People speculate that Mariah felt the production had already pre-chosen Raja as the winner of season 3.
14. A Couple Of Queens Were Allowed/Asked To Reshoot Their Entrance
In terms of some queens thinking other queens are favoured, it’s because some of them have been allowed to redo their entrance if something hasn’t gone quite right.
Back in season four, Sharon Needles was allowed to redo her entrance to the workroom.
She entered wearing a tall witches’ hat, and apparently it fell off.
In season ten, apparently The Vixen was asked to redo her entrance, in which she uttered the now (in)famous lines ‘I’m here to fight’ (and boy did she fight!)
She said it perhaps came off more combative than intended because of the nerves of having to re-film it.
And fight she did! She often clashed with Eureka O’Hara, and many other queens.
13. Phi Phi O’Hara’s ‘Rudemption’ Didn’t Quite Go As Planned
For anyone who doesn’t know, a Rudemption is like a redemption. It’s when queens who came across as nasty try and redeem themselves.
One of the most outspoken queens, along with Willam, of how the show is edited, is none other than Phi Phi O’Hara.
In season four, she was portrayed as the villain of the series, often clashing with Sharon Needles (who would go on to win the show.)
All Stars 2 was supposed to show the ‘Rudemption’ of Phi Phi O’Hara, she wanted to show that she wasn’t the villain after all.
Lo and behold, she came across as a bit of a villain, especially when she went on a rant about Alyssa Edwards when said person was stood behind a two-way mirror.
Phi Phi said in an interview that she knew something was going on and that producers kept asking her questions. She said: “Okay, Phi Phi tell us who you picked, and so I was like Alyssa, and they’re like, Okay, so now tell us about this and tell us about that. I kept getting questions asked — that’s what actually happened.”
12. RuPaul Doesn’t Talk To The Queens On Set
This isn’t a good read for anyone who thinks RuPaul is the be all and end all of drag.
In the same interview, Phi Phi O’Hara threw shade on RuPaul, saying that she doesn’t talk to any of the contestants off set when the cameras aren’t rolling.
She said: “I remember watching Ru as a kid thinking, she’s like this life-size Barbie doll basically.”
She said: “I remember watching Ru as a kid thinking, she’s like this life-size Barbie doll basically.”
“I wanted to meet her and I just wanted to see who this person was that was so comfortable in their own skin. So watching her on set and seeing how she ignores everybody and she doesn’t talk to the contestants, I was like, What, this is weird, why won’t she say hi to me?”
We’re sure he’s lovely, he just doesn’t want to seem he’s choosing any favourites.
11. Phi Phi O’ Hara Isn’t The Only Queen To Have Beef With RuPaul
Several other queens have called out Ru for various different things.
First up, Courtney Act was blocked on Twitter by Ru after she spoke up about the ‘She-mail’ segment of the show, when queens received a message. She has said in interviews:
“I was shocked, I just expected RuPaul to be more like a mother/father to all Kweens who have been on the show.
I guess I expected him to be more protective in a way – so I guess to hear that, what you see on the show is all the kweens get – seems like the contestants are getting a bit ripped off.
“I have been in and around show business enough to know that this kind of duality is common.”
“It shouldn’t be like that but you do find that entertainers like RuPaul can be very different once the camera stops.”
10. Pearl V.S RuPaul
Pearl Liason was one of the more popular queens on season seven and she ended up in the finale.
At the beginning of season seven, Pearl told Ru off-camera how much she respected and idolised her.
She said all the nice things she ever wanted to say to Ru. She apparently replied by saying “Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling.”
Pearl said she was heartbroken by the response.
She that it lead to her cold personality throughout the season.
Despite this, Pearl did very well on the season.
9. Ever Wondered How The Queens Have Exactly The Right Outfits For Each Runway?
This is something that you’ve probably wondered when watching the show, but never knew the answer to.
It’s because they’re given an extensive, but vague list of outfits to prepare before the season starts.
The list may include themes that are sometimes scrapped.
As an example, in season 10’s “Evil Twins” challenge, many of the queens were wearing quite ‘prehistoric outfits’ (Kameron, Mizz Cracker, Aquaria and her skeletal face.)
It is theorised that a prehistoric challenge was on the list.
It is thought an ‘orange outfit’ runway was also scrapped.
8. Where Was Michelle Visage For Season 1 and 2?
It’s a whole decade ago, so we will forgive you if you didn’t even notice a point in Drag Race history where Michelle Visage wasn’t a judge.
During season 1 and 2, Merle Ginsberg was judging alongside Santino Rice.
She mysteriously disappeared to be replaced by Michelle in season 3 and was absent for a long time, with the swap not really being addressed until season 7, when they poked fun that Michelle had killed her.
The T is that Michelle was always lined up to be a permanent judge alongside Ru, but because of contractual issues during seasons 1 and 2 with CBS radio, Michelle was unable to be on the panel.
Michelle is also a co-producer on the show.
7. The Big Season 3 Spoil
There was some drama when season 3 was spoiled by the celebrity gossip blogger, Perez Hilton.
A spat kicked off between himself and the Drag Race team.
Michelle Visage was the most outspoken person on Ru’s side.
This provided plenty of drama when they were both cast together on the British version of Celebrity Big Brother.
Michelle and Perez often clashed with each other when they were staying in the Big Brother house.
6. It’s Filmed In A Relatively Short Amount Of Time
Each season of drag race airs for about thirteen weeks…that’s quite a few months of Drag Race brilliance to look forwards to.
However, each season only takes about four weeks to film.
They shoot several episodes over the period of a couple of days.
Thailand is the first country to receive its own Drag Race spin off.
The show is hosted by fashion stylist Art-Araya In-dra, while drag performer Pangina Heals co-hosts.
Here’s hoping that other countries will soon get their own spinoff too (fingers crossed for the UK!)
5. Queens Have Known They Are Going To Be Eliminated Because Of This Reason
You’d have thought that they might have thought about this one…
Season 4 queen, Jiggly Caliente, claims she received a check-out note from the hotel where all the queens were staying the morning before she was eliminated.
This suggests the producers had already decided Jiggly’s fate, and that the eliminated queens are chosen beforehand.
Several other eliminated queens have said they also received a checkout note the morning of their elimination.
This no longer happens, so the producers must have clocked on not to tell the hotel these queens won’t be staying for another night.
4. Asia was heavily criticised for her butterfly stunt
Here is Asia O’Hara with her controversial butterfly outfit.
She filled little sections of it with live butterflies, which she hoped would fly out and look spectacular.
Instead, the butterflies just fell to the floor and failed to take flight.
She was criticised heavily for the stunt.
3. They’re blindfolded when they get off the plane
We’ve already talked about how the queens are kept in a hotel at a secret location, and that they’re instructed to keep the blinds down in their hotel.
So secret is the location, that they’re actually blindfolded when they step off the plane.
They’re then driven to the hotel, so that they have no idea where they are going.
This information was disclosed in Ruvealed, a behind-the scenes interview with the queens of All Stars 2.
Coco Montrese and Roxxy Andrews said they had no idea where the hotel they were staying in was, calling it an “undisclosed location.”
Alyssa Edwards said: “They took us off the plane, blindfolded us, and got us here to the hotel so nobody would know where the girls are.”
2. Queens are limited to five suitcases
We’re not sure how this one works out, considering the amount of outfits each queen wears, but they’re limited to strictly five suitcases each.
They used to be limited to three, but this was upped to five in the later seasons.
Not only that, but they must be 50lbs or less! With all those wigs and make-up, how do they manage?
Take Asia’s dandelion hat for example, there’s no way that fits into a suitcase.
Of course, fabrics and sewing machines are provided in the work room.
Queens who live locally to Southern California, where the show is filmed, are driven their rather than getting a flight.
1. The legal documentation they have to sign is looong
Before appearing on the show, all queens must sign a legal document which is pretty hefty.
We’re talking 51 pages in length, which includes all manner of things.
One of the rules that is made clear, is that all queens who take part on the show must be aware of the possibility of “physical or verbal aggression” from other contestants.
Therefore, all queens must “expressly assume the risk of any physical or emotional injuries [they] may suffer.”
Considering how heated some of the arguments can be, we’re not surprised they put this clause in.
Are you a fan of Drag Race? If so, be sure to share this with all your fellow queens. The shade, the shade of it all…