RuPaul at DragCon LA in 2019
RuPaul Andre Charles
17 November 1960
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Television||RuPaul's Drag Race|
|Origin||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960) is an American drag queen, actor, model, singer, songwriter, and television personality. Since 2009, he has produced and hosted the reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race, for which he has received eight Primetime Emmy Awards. RuPaul is considered to be the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States. In 2017, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2019, Fortune noted RuPaul as "easily the world's most famous" drag queen.
RuPaul was born and raised in San Diego and later moved to Atlanta to study performing arts. He settled in New York City where he became a popular fixture on the nightclub scene. RuPaul achieved international fame as a drag queen with the release of his debut single, "Supermodel (You Better Work)", which was included on his debut studio album Supermodel of the World (1993). In 1994, he became a spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics, raising money for the Mac AIDS Fund and becoming the first drag queen to land a major cosmetics campaign. That year, he received his own talk show on VH1, The RuPaul Show, which he hosted for over 100 episodes, while co-hosting the morning radio show on WKTU with Michelle Visage. He has had continued success as a recording artist, releasing 14 studio albums to date (as of 2020), including Foxy Lady (1996), Ho Ho Ho (1997), Champion (2009), Glamazon (2011), and Born Naked (2014).
As an actor, RuPaul has made appearances in films including Crooklyn (1994), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999), Hurricane Bianca (2016), the Comedy Central series Broad City (2017), and the Netflix original programming Girlboss (2017) and Grace and Frankie (2019). He has also published three books: Lettin' It All Hang Out (1995), Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style (2010), and GuRu (2018). Additionally, RuPaul's Drag Race has produced twelve seasons to date (as of 2020) and has inspired several spin-off series, including RuPaul's Drag U, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, and RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race. He is also featured as a host on series such as Skin Wars, Good Work, and Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul. In June 2019, his daytime talk show RuPaul premiered, which was cancelled after a three-week test run.
RuPaul is indifferent to gender-specific pronouns about him, writing: "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 has also played male roles and makes public appearances in male and female drag.
RuPaul was born in San Diego. He was named by his mother, Ernestine "Toni" Charles, a Louisiana native; Ru in his name came from roux which is the term for the base of gumbo and other creole stews and soups. According to Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Finding Your Roots his ancestors were likely former slaves; his Global Ancestry Composition is 70% African, and 30% European. When his parents divorced in 1967, he and his three sisters lived with their mother. He was raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
At fifteen, he moved to Atlanta with his sister Renetta to study performing arts. In the ensuing years, RuPaul struggled as a musician and filmmaker during the 1980s, where he worked at Atlanta's famed Plaza Theatre. In 1982, he debuted on an Atlanta public access variety show called The American Music Show, in which he made frequent appearances over the years.:59 He also participated in underground cinema, helping create the low-budget film Star Booty, 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. RuPaul also performed as a backup singer to Glen Meadmore along with drag queen Vaginal Davis. RuPaul's first prominent national exposure came in 1989 dancing as an extra in the video for "Love Shack" by The B-52's.
In the early 1990s, RuPaul worked the Georgia club scene and was known by his full birth name. Initially participating in gender bender-style performances, RuPaul performed solo and in collaboration with other bands at several New York City nightclubs, most notably the Pyramid Club. He played opposite New York City drag performer Mona Foote (Nashom Benjamin) in the one-act science-fiction parody "My Pet Homo" written and directed by Jon Michael Johnson for Cooper Square Productions. He appeared for many years at the annual Wigstock drag festival and appeared in the documentary Wigstock: The Movie. In the 1990s, 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.
1993–1997: Supermodel of the World, Foxy Lady, and Ho Ho Ho
In 1993, RuPaul recorded the dance/house album Supermodel of the World. It was released through the rap label Tommy Boy, spawning the dance track hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)". The music video was an unexpected success on MTV channels, as grunge and gangsta rap were popular at the time. The song peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. It charted on the UK Singles Chart, peaking on the top 40 at 39. The song found the most success on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, where it peaked at 2. Radio airplay, heavy rotation of the music video on MTV and television appearances on popular programs like The Arsenio Hall Show popularized the song.
What other people think of me is not my business. What I do is what I do. How people see me doesn't change what I decide to do. I don't choose projects so people don't see me as one thing or another. I choose projects that excite me. I think the problem is that people refuse to understand what drag is outside of their own belief system.— RuPaul
His next two singles/videos, "Back to My Roots" and "A Shade Shady (Now Prance)", both went to the top spot on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and furthered his campy persona. Between them, "House of Love" was released without a video. It failed to place on any U.S. charts, despite rising to 68 on the UK Singles Chart.
RuPaul was signed to a modeling contract for MAC Cosmetics. Various billboards featured him in full drag, often with the text "I am the MAC girl". He also released his autobiography, Lettin' It All Hang Out. He promoted the book in part with a 1995 guest appearance on ABC's All My Children, in a storyline that put it 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, interviewing celebrity guests and musical acts. Diana Ross, Nirvana, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, Mary J. Blige, Bea Arthur, Dionne Warwick, Cyndi Lauper, 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 released his second album, Foxy Lady, this time on the L.A.-based Rhino Records label. Despite his growing celebrity, he failed to chart on 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 95 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was his second and only other Hot 100 entry to date (1996?). The second single "A Little Bit of Love" only charted at 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 City and would serve as host of the morning show until 1998.
In 1997, he released his third album, 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 on 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 2002, he recorded with Brigitte Nielsen, credited as Gitta, the Eurodance track "You're No Lady".
2004–2007: Red Hot, ReWorked, and Starrbooty
In 2004, RuPaul released his fourth album, Red Hot on his own RuCo Inc. music 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 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 first remix album and fifth album overall. 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 21 on the U.S. dance chart. June 20, 2007, saw the release of Starrbooty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|Starrbooty (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) in the United States. The single "Call Me Starrbooty" was digitally released in 2007. The album contains new tracks as well as interludes with dialogue from the movie. The film was released on DVD in October 2007.
2008–2010: RuPaul's Drag Race and Champion
In mid-2008, RuPaul began producing RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality television game show which aired on Logo in February 2009. The premise of the program has drag queens compete to be selected by RuPaul and a panel of judges as "America's next drag superstar". The first season's winner was BeBe Zahara Benet, and first runner-up Nina Flowers was chosen by fans as "Miss Congeniality" through voting via the show's official website. 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 episode 6 of season 5 of Project Runway and as a guest "chef" on Paula's Party.
In March 2009, RuPaul released the album Champion. The album spawned four singles "Cover Girl", "Jealous of My Boogie", "Devil Made Me Do It" and "Tranny Chaser". The album peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums as well as 26 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. Logo's second annual NewNowNext Awards in 2009 were hosted by RuPaul. There he performed "Jealous of My Boogie (Gomi & RasJek Edit)". In March 2010, RuPaul released his second remix album, Drag Race, the album features remixes of songs from the 2009 album Champion.
2011–2013: Glamazon, make-up and perfume line
In April 2011, coinciding with the finale of season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul released his sixth studio album Glamazon, produced by Revolucian, who previously worked with RuPaul on his album Champion. The album charted on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums and the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart at 11 and 8 respectively. In July 2011, RuPaul released another remix EP entitled SuperGlam DQ, which features remixes of tracks from Glamazon, remixes of the "Drag U Theme Song", and a new song, "Sexy Drag Queen". Starting in June 2011, the second season of RuPaul's Drag U aired. In late 2011, promotions for season 4 of Drag Race began. RuPaul made appearances on The Rosie Show and The Chew, and also attended a Drag Race NY Premiere party at Patricia Field's store in New York. Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race premiered on Logo on January 30, 2012, with RuPaul returning as the main host and judge. After season 4 ended, TV.com declared it was the best reality TV show on television.
In the fall of 2012, the spin-off RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars premiered after a large fan demand. The show featured past contestants of the previous four seasons to compete. Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race premiered on January 28, 2013, with a 90-minute special and RuPaul returning as the main host and judge. On April 30, 2013, RuPaul released a single "Lick It Lollipop" featuring Lady Bunny, who RuPaul previously collaborated with on Champion. On October 25, 2013 RuPaul reported via Twitter that the new album would be released in January 2014.
In fall of 2013, RuPaul joined forces with cosmetic manufacturers Colorevolution to launch his debut make-up line featuring ultra-rich pigment cosmetics and a beauty collection. Released alongside the line was a unisex perfume entitled "Glamazon". Talking to World of Wonder, RuPaul said: "Glamazon is for women and men of all ages and preferences who share one thing in common: They are not afraid to be fierce. For me, glamour should be accessible to all, and I am committed to helping the world look and smell more beautiful." The line was exclusively sold on the Colorevolution website in various gift sets.
2014: Born Naked, What's The Tee?, and Skin Wars
RuPaul and Revolucian both confirmed through their Twitter and Instagram accounts that they had been working on an upcoming seventh studio album. Born Naked was released on February 24, 2014 to coincide with the premiere of the 6th season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Prior to the premiere, an album of RuPaul cover songs performed by the Season 6 cast was released on January 28, 2014. The covers album is titled RuPaul Presents The CoverGurlz and contains RuPaul songs from 2009 to 2013. To further promote the Drag Race season premiere, RuPaul, representing Logo TV (and parent company Viacom) was chosen to ring the NASDAQ closing bell on February 24, 2014. The week of its release, Born Naked reached number one on the iTunes dance album chart. The following week it placed at number 4 on the US Billboard dance chart and 85 on the Billboard 200 chart. In a profile by The New York Times it was revealed that RuPaul is currently working on a porcelain statuette of his likeness. On April 9, 2014 RuPaul and Michelle Visage released the first episode of their podcast, RuPaul: What's the Tee? with Michelle Visage. In August, he joined the reality competition show Skin Wars acting as a judge.
2015: Realness, Good Work, and Slay Belles
On March 2, 2015, RuPaul released his eighth studio album, Realness. The release coincided with the premiere of the seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race. In April, he launched and began hosting a new show, Good Work, a plastic surgery-themed talk show for E!. In October he released his second Christmas album, and ninth studio album, Slay Belles. The album contains ten original Christmas-themed songs and features collaborations with Michelle Visage, Siedah Garrett, Todrick Hall and Big Freedia. The album charted at 21 on the US Billboard Dance chart.
2016: Gay for Play, Butch Queen, All Stars 2
In January 2016, it was announced RuPaul would present a new game show for Logo TV called Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul which premiered on April 11, 2016 after RuPaul's Drag Race. In February 2016, RuPaul announced his tenth album, Butch Queen. It was released in March 2016, just prior to the premiere of the eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. A song from the album, "U Wear It Well" was featured in the teaser campaigns for the season and was later officially released as the first single on iTunes in February 2016. The album charted at number 3 on the US Billboard Dance chart, marking his highest position on this chart to date (2016?). "'Be Someone" featuring American singer Taylor Dayne was released as the album's second and final single. Additionally, Butch Queen: The Ru-Mixes was released.
In July 2016, it was announced that RuPaul was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. He would go on to win the award at the September Creative Arts Emmy Awards Ceremony. 2016 also saw the release of the single "Read U Wrote U" that features rap parts by the RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2 finalists Roxxxy Andrews, Katya Zamolodchikova, Alaska Thunderfuck, and Detox Icunt with production by Ellis Miah.
2017–2018: Remember Me, American, return to VH1, and Essential, Vol. 2
On January 27, 2017, RuPaul announced that a new album would be released the week after. The album, named Remember Me: Essential, Vol. 1 was put up for pre-order on February 2 and eventually released the next day. It is a collection of new songs and remakes of classic RuPaul hits that feature new artists. Two singles have been released from the album so far: "Rock It (To The Moon)" which is a new song loosely based on the lyrics and the melody of "Hey Booty" which was released on the Starrbooty soundtrack in 2007, and an updated version of RuPaul's 1996 hit single "Snapshot" from the album Foxy Lady. The album failed to chart on the Dance Albums Chart but managed to debut at number four on the Billboard Dance Albums Sales Chart in the United States. It also charted at number eleven on the UK Dance Albums Chart, becoming RuPaul's highest charting album on that chart, after Realness managed to debut and peak at number 13.
On March 24, 2017, RuPaul released his eleventh studio album, American. Later that same day, the ninth regular season of RuPaul's Drag Race debuted on basic cable channel VH1, home of RuPaul's talk show in the 1990s. This marked a move from expanded cable channel Logo TV, which aired all previous seasons of the show. The season 9 premiere featured singer Lady Gaga as its guest judge and proved a success, with ratings of nearly 1,000,000 viewers, making it the series' most viewed episode. This figure was double LogoTV's season 8 premiere ratings from the year prior, and triple VH1's usual Friday night viewership in that programming timeslot. When the ratings were released, World of Wonder Productions announced they were casting contestants for a tenth season.
On June 2, 2017, Essential, Vol. 2 was put up on pre-order on iTunes. It was released on June 9 and preceded by the single "Crying on the Dance Floor" which is a re-recording of the 2010 single "Main Event" from the album Champion. On June 22, 2017, it was announced that RuPaul will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television industry. He was awarded the honor on March 16, 2018, making him the first drag queen to be given such an award.
In August 2018, it was announced that RuPaul will be releasing his third Christmas album in October 2018.
2019–present: Drag Race UK, AJ and the Queen and further TV shows
In June 2019, a daytime talk show titled RuPaul premiered, however it was cancelled after a three-week test run, since it was not picked by any Fox TV stations. He also appeared in Taylor Swift's "You Need to Calm Down" music video.
In late 2019, the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK was released on BBC3. It was well-received, with The Guardian stating that the British version had "saved" the franchise. It was renewed for a second season to be released in 2020.
RuPaul also created and starred in the Netflix drama-comedy show AJ and the Queen as a drag queen touring the country with an unlikely young sidekick, which was released on January 10, 2020. On March 6, 2020, Netflix announced that the series had been cancelled.
Also in January 2020, it was announced that RuPaul would host Saturday Night Live for the first time. He hosted the episode airing on February 8, 2020 with Justin Bieber as a musical guest. On May 4, 2020, it was announced that RuPaul would be on The Price Is Right at Night airing May 11. He also made an appearance in the premiere episode of Canada's Drag Race.
RuPaul is considered to be the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States. He has been credited with creating wider exposure for drag queens from LGBT culture into mainstream society, thanks to his early-career chart success, and later, the successive climb in viewership of RuPaul's Drag Race. His talk show The RuPaul Show was the first-ever national talk show to have a drag queen as a host. Along with his partner Michelle Visage, he welcomed an array of high-profile guests such as Cher, Lil Kim, and Diana Ross over the show's 100-episode span. As well as having a variety of comedy skits, the show was noted for discussing topics such as black empowerment, female empowerment, misogyny, and liberal politics that were otherwise unheard of in 1990s television at the time. In 1999, RuPaul was awarded the Vito Russo Award at the GLAAD Media Awards for work in promoting equality in the LGBT community.
RuPaul has also been noted as having a large part in RuPaul's Drag Race's continuous television success. By pioneering queer representation on television, many believe RuPaul to have essentially revolutionised the portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. He first won an Emmy for his work on the show in 2016, and one year later the show garnered eight nominations, including Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for the first time in its 11-season run, and a second consecutive win for RuPaul in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. In 2017, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2019, Fortune noted RuPaul as “easily the world's most famous” drag queen.
Relationship with transgender community
RuPaul has a complex relationship with the transgender community, in part due to differing philosophies: through drag he seeks to mock gender and identity stereotypes, while in his view the trans community takes identity seriously. RuPaul's Drag Race has featured a number of contestants who are trans women, some of whom made their identity public while competing on the show, including Sonique, Carmen Carrera, Jiggly Caliente, Monica Beverly Hillz, Kenya Michaels and Gia Gunn. In 2017, Peppermint became the first contestant to compete throughout her season as an openly transgender woman. Other non-conforming gender identities expressed by former contestants include nonbinary (Jinkx Monsoon, Adore Delano, Aja and Valentina), gender fluid (Courtney Act and Kelly Mantle) and genderqueer (Violet Chachki and Sasha Velour).
In 2014, trans activists and former contestants Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz criticized the show's use of words such as tranny and shemale, including the main challenge announcement phrase up to season 6, "You've got she-mail", which they described as transphobic. That year's season also included a "Female or She-male" segment that required contestants to guess whether various photographs featured cisgender "biological women" or "psychological women" (drag queens), causing further criticism. RuPaul and the producers issued a statement promising "to help spread love, acceptance and understanding" and Logo TV removed the "You've got she-mail" phrase from subsequent broadcasts. RuPaul criticized those attempting to police his language in bad faith and noted that tranny referred to transvestites and drag queens, not just trans women.
In 2018, RuPaul gave an interview to The Guardian in which he stated that a post-transition trans woman would "probably not" be accepted onto the show, noting that at the time of competition Peppermint had not yet had breast implants. After facing criticism on social media and from former contestants for his remarks, RuPaul compared trans drag queens who had transitioned to athletes who had taken performance-enhancing drugs. He subsequently expressed regret for the hurt caused by his remarks, and that the only screening criteria for contestants were "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent".
RuPaul is gay. He has been with his husband, Georges LeBar, since 1994, when they met at the Limelight nightclub in New York City. They married in January 2017. They have an open marriage, with RuPaul stating he would not want to "put restraints" on the person he loves. LeBar is a painter and runs a 60,000-acre (240,000,000 m2) ranch in Wyoming.
He was criticized by environmentalists after revealing in 2020 that he and his husband lease mineral rights and sell water to oil companies on their ranch and allow fracking, an environmentally harmful practice. There are at least 35 active wells on the LeBar Ranch according to public maps. RuPaul previously held a climate-themed ball on his show to raise environmental awareness, leading to accusations of hypocrisy.
RuPaul publicly endorsed the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He expressed dismay at Clinton's defeat by Republican Party nominee Donald Trump, stating that "The America that we have all fought so hard for, the narrative of love and peace and liberty and equality, it feels like it is dead."
He has described doing drag as a "very, very political" act because it "challenges the status quo" by rejecting fixed identities: "drag says 'I'm a shapeshifter, I do whatever the hell I want at any given time'."
The podcast RuPaul: What's The Tee? With Michelle Visage debuted on April 6, 2014. Ru-Paul co-hosts with longtime friend and fellow RuPaul's Drag Race judge Michelle Visage. The weekly show features their thoughts on topics including behind-the-scenes of RuPaul's Drag Race, life advice, beauty tips, and conversations with featured guests from the entertainment world.
Launched through production company World of Wonder, RuPaul's DragCon LA is an annual drag-themed convention held in Los Angeles starting in 2015, followed by RuPaul's DragCon NYC as of 2017 in New York City, which allows members of the public to meet with RuPaul, former RuPaul's Drag Race contestants and other drag queens. The conventions feature performances, meet-and-greet booths, merchandise sales and panel discussions.
In recent years, RuPaul has been an active supporter of voter registration, producing a PSA supporting National Voter Registration Day and urging everyone to register. As RuPaul said voter ID laws vary from state to state; the details of the voter ID required in each state are provided by HeadCount and VoteRiders. As one in five LGBTQ adults are not registered to vote, voter registration efforts have expanded recently with several of the stars from RuPaul's Drag Race acting as Ambassadors for the Drag Out The Vote.
- Studio albums
- Supermodel of the World (1993)
- Foxy Lady (1996)
- Ho Ho Ho (1997)
- Red Hot (2004)
- Champion (2009)
- Glamazon (2011)
- Born Naked (2014)
- Realness (2015)
- Slay Belles (2015)
- Butch Queen (2016)
- American (2017)
- Christmas Party (2018)
- You're a Winner, Baby (2020)
|1988||The Gong Show||Himself (out of drag)|
|1993||Saturday Night Live||Himself (in drag)||Guest star, episode: "Charles Barkley/Nirvana"|
|1995||In the House||Kevin|
|1996–98||The RuPaul Show||Himself (in drag)||Presenter, 100 episodes|
|Nash Bridges||Simone Dubois||2 episodes|
|1998||Hercules||Rock Guardian||Episode: "Hercules and the Girdle of Hyppolyte"|
|Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||The Witch Judge / Hair Dresser||Episode: "Sabrina's Choice"|
|Walker, Texas Ranger||Bob||Episode: "Royal Heist"|
|2001||Popular||Sweet Honey Child|
|Port Charles||Madame Alicia|
|Weakest Link||Himself (in drag)|
|2002||Son of the Beach||Heinous Anus||credited as RuPaul Charles|
|2006||Top Chef: San Francisco||as herself||"Food of Love." On Bravo. (15 March 2006).|
|2008||Project Runway||Himself (in drag)||Guest judge, Season 5, episode 6|
|2009||Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World||Tyler|
|2009–present||RuPaul's Drag Race||Himself (in and out of drag)||Host and judge|
|2010||Ugly Betty||Rudolph||Episode: "Chica and the Man"|
|2010–12||RuPaul's Drag U||Himself (out of drag)||Host, judge and producer|
|2012–present||RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars||Himself (in and out of drag)||Host and judge|
|2013||Happy Endings||Krisjahn||Episode: "The Incident"|
|Life With La Toya||Himself (out of drag)|
|Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular||Himself (in drag)||Guest performer: "Fashion!" alongside Lady Gaga|
|2014||The Face||Himself (out of drag)||Guest judge|
|Mystery Girls||Emillo||Guest star, episode: "Bag Ladies"|
|The Comeback||Himself (out of drag)||Guest star, episode: "Valerie Films A Pilot"|
|2014–16||Skin Wars||Himself (out of drag)||Judge|
|2015||Harvey Beaks||Jackie Slitherstein||Guest star, episode: "Harvey's Favorite Book"|
|Bubble Guppies||Drag Snail/Costume Boxing Judge||Guest star, episode: "Costume Boxing"|
|2016||The Muppets||Himself (out of drag)||Episode: "Got Silk?"|
|2016–17||Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul||Host|
|2016||The Real O'Neals||Himself (out of drag)||Episode: "The Real Thang"|
|2017||2 Broke Girls||Himself (out of drag)||Episode: "And the Riverboat Runs Through It"|
|Animals.||Dr. Labcoat (out of drag)||Episode: "Humans"|
|Girlboss||Lionel||Recurring role, 6 episodes|
|Then and Now with Andy Cohen||Himself (out of drag)|
|BoJack Horseman||Queen Antonia||Episode: "Underground"|
|Broad City||Marcel||3 episodes|
|Adam Ruins Everything||Gil||2 episodes|
|2018||Drag Race Thailand||Himself (out of drag)|
|The Ellen DeGeneres Show||Himself (out of drag)||Season 15, episode 120|
|The Simpsons||Queen Chante (voice)||Episode: "Werking Mom"|
|2019||The World's Best||Himself (out of drag)||Judge|
|Grace and Frankie||Benjamin Le Day||Guest star|
|RuPaul||Himself (out of drag)||Host|
|RuPaul's Drag Race UK||Himself||Host and judge|
|2020||AJ and the Queen||Ruby Red||Main role; co-creator and executive producer|
|Saturday Night Live||Himself/Host||Episode: "RuPaul/Justin Bieber"|
|RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race||Himself (in and out of drag)||Host and judge|
|The Price Is Right at Night||Himself||Guest|
|Canada's Drag Race||Himself (in drag)||Cameo (video message in every episode)|
|Muppets Now||Himself (out of drag)||Episode: "Due Date"|
|Drag Race Holland||Himself (in drag)||Cameo (video message)|
|1987||RuPaul Is: Starbooty!||Starbooty|
|1995||The Brady Bunch Movie||Mrs. Cummings|
|Wigstock: The Movie||Himself|
|Blue in the Face||Dancer|
|To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar||Rachel Tensions|
|Red Ribbon Blues||Duke|
|A Mother's Prayer||Deacon "Dede"|
|A Very Brady Sequel||Mrs. Cummings|
|1998||An Unexpected Life||Charles|
|But I'm a Cheerleader||Mike|
|2000||The Eyes of Tammy Faye||Narrator|
|The Truth About Jane||Jimmy|
|For the Love of May||Jimbo|
|2001||Who is Cletis Tout?||Ginger Markum|
|2006||Zombie Prom: The Movie||Delilah Strict|
|2008||Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild||Tyrell Tyrelle|
|2016||Hurricane Bianca||Weather Man|
|2018||Show Dogs||Persephone (voice)|
|2019||Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts||Herself|
|1983||The Blue Boy Terror|
|American Porn Star|
|1999||Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World||Daryl.com|
|2006||Zombie Prom||Delilah Strict|
|2008||How We Got Over|
|1989||"Love Shack"||Extra||The B-52's|
|2019||"You Need To Calm Down"||Himself||Taylor Swift|
Awards and nominations
- Lettin' It All Hang Out: An Autobiography. Hyperion Books. 1995. ISBN 0-7868-6156-8.
- Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style. It Books. 2010. ISBN 978-0061985836.
- GuRu, Dey Street Books, 2018. ISBN 978-0751573831
- LGBT culture in New York City
- List of self-identified LGBTQ New Yorkers
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
- "RuPaul: The World's 100 Most Influential People". Time.
- Klein, Jessica (September 24, 2019). "As 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Expands to the U.K., DragCon Shines Light on Its Mainstream Success". Fortune (magazine). Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- Porter, Rick (January 2, 2020). "RuPaul Daytime Talk Show Not Moving Ahead at Fox Stations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- RuPaul (1995). Lettin' It All Hang Out: An Autobiography. Hyperion Books. ISBN 978-0-7868-6156-9.
- Gianoulis, Tina (August 16, 2005). "RuPaul (RuPaul Andre Charles)" (PDF). GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. GLBTQ, Inc. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- The Bonnie Hunt Show March 12, 2010
- "Watch RuPaul Learn His Ancestors Were Also Marriage Pioneers". www.advocate.com. October 9, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- Robinson, Jennifer. "FINDING YOUR ROOTS: Slave Trade". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- Shepherd, Julianne Escobedo (April 1, 2013). "RuPaul Runs The World". Spin. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
- Andy Cohen with RuPaul at Live Talks Los Angeles - YouTube
- "American Music Show (Television show) video recordings, 1981–2005". findingaids.library.emory.edu. May 17, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
- French, Ellen Dennis (2005). "Rupaul 1960–". Encyclopedia.com (Thomson Gale). Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2012. Additional WebCitation archive on March 10, 2017.
- Warren, Robert Burke. "Southern Belles, Latchkey Kids and Thrift-Store Crossdressers". BitterSoutherner.com. Archived from the original on June 23, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
- Nelson, Sullivan. "Going to Red Zone".
RuPaul, Lahoma and Larry Tee went to Red Zone to perform their disco act La Palace de Beaute. This video includes fabulous backup dancing by RuPaul and Lahoma.
- Kot, Greg (September 1, 1995). "What a Drag". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- RuPaul in Shankbone, David. Interview with RuPaul, Wikinews, October 6, 2007.
- "Dance/Electronic Albums : Oct 16, 2004 | Billboard Chart Archive". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "Project Runway Season 5 Good Queen Fun | Bravo TV Official Site". Bravotv.com. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "Diva Party : Paula's Party". Food Network. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Drag Race by RuPaul, retrieved April 29, 2019
- "RuPaul Releases Drag Race Album". NewNowNext. Archived from the original on July 23, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
- "RuPaul's "Glamazon" Limited Edition Makeup and Fragrance Available Now!". World of Wonder. November 12, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "Colorevolution Mineral Makeup — Ru Paul". Colorevolution.com. Archived from the original on November 21, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Schulman, Michael (February 21, 2014). "In Drag, It Turns Out, There Are Second Acts". The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
- "RuPaul — Chart history". Billboard.
- Elizabeth Wagmeister (January 21, 2016). "Logo Greenlights Two New Series Including RuPaul Game Show, Following Year-Over-Year Growth". Variety.
- Dan Avery. "Rupaul Announces New Album, "Butch Queen," Dropping March 7!". NewNowNext.
- "Read U Wrote U (Ellis Miah Mix) [feat. The Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, Season 2] - Single by RuPaul". itunes.apple.com.
- McIntyre, Hugh. "RuPaul Chats About Reinventing His Back Catalog For A New Audience".
- "RuPaul Reclaims Core 'American' Values With Political New Album". March 22, 2017.
- Petski, Denise (March 27, 2017). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Draws Nearly 1M Viewers In VH1 Debut".
- "It's Time, Children! Casting for 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10 HAS BEGUN!". March 27, 2017.
- France, Lisa Respers (June 23, 2017). "Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 revealed". CNN. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "RuPaul Is the First Drag Queen to Get a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame".
- "Ho Ho Ho: RuPaul is Releasing a New Christmas Album". August 29, 2018.
- Rudolph, Christopher (April 2, 2019). "RuPaul Gets His Oprah On in First Clip From His New Daytime Talk Show". NewNowNext. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- Yoo, Noah (June 17, 2019). "Taylor Swift Parties With Katy Perry, RuPaul, More in New "You Need to Calm Down" Video: Watch". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- "'Graham Norton and Alan Carr confirmed as celebrity judges for RuPaul's Drag Race UK - series to air on BBC Three in 2019". BBC. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
- Bromwich, Kathryn (November 22, 2019). "Fierce competition: how a Brit makeover saved RuPaul's Drag Race". The Guardian. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Ashurst, Sam (December 2, 2019). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 audition, casting air date, trailer and everything you need to know". Digital Spy. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
- "Shows A-Z - AJ and the Queen on Netflix". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Swift, Andy (March 6, 2020). "AJ and the Queen Cancelled at Netflix". money.yahoo.com. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
- Nolfi, Joey (January 21, 2020). "RuPaul to host Saturday Night Live for the first time". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Ramos, Dino-Ray (May 4, 2020). "RuPaul Sashays Into 'The Price Is Right At Night' Primetime Special". Deadline Hollywood. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
- "How RuPaul Became a Leading Icon in the Gay Community". Mic.com. May 29, 2013.
- "RuPaul on Moving to Mainstream Television and the 'Political' Nature of Drag Culture".
- Dazed (October 25, 2016). "Why RuPaul was a cultural icon long before Drag Race".
- Houlihan, Ryan. "How 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Led a Gay Cultural Revolution – and Changed My Life".
- Jung, E. Alex. "Straight Emmy Voters Finally Discover RuPaul's Drag Race".
- "How RuPaul's comments on trans women led to a Drag Race revolt – and a rare apology". Vox. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
To understand why RuPaul has always been resistant to let go of what he finds to be harmless jokes, you have to understand that he built his career on the principle that no one should take themselves or gender particularly seriously. In fact, as he told Vulture, his vision of drag is that it's meant to "remind culture to not take itself seriously." When he gets asked about the trans community's relation to drag, he said, he just gets bored because "we mock identity. They take identity very seriously."
- Rudolph, Christopher (March 31, 2017). "Former "Drag Race" Contestant Gia Gunn Comes Out As Trans". LOGO News. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Salandra, Adam (April 29, 2017). "11 Times "RuPaul's Drag Race" Celebrated The Trans Community". LOGO News. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Morgan, Joe (March 6, 2018). "Was trans queen Peppermint told to dress 'as a man' on Drag Race?". Gay Star News. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Voss, Brandon (August 21, 2017). "Adore Delano Talks New Punk Album 'Whatever', the '27 Club' & Being Nonbinary: 'Gender Isn't a Real Thing'". Billboard. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
- Ashenden, Amy (April 25, 2018). "What does gender-fluid mean? Courtney Act explains how gender-fluidity set her free". PinkNews. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
- Yohannes, Alamin (December 12, 2016). "Gender-fluid actor Kelly Mantle makes Oscars history". NBC News. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
- Rodriguez, Mathew (January 14, 2019). "Valentina Identifies as Nonbinary: "I'm My Own Gender"". Out.com. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
- Velour, Sasha (February 10, 2017). "Thank so much for asking @glassarmy! For my Velour self – always she/her (out of drag its even less binary lol...any will do) #genderqueer". @sasha_velour. Retrieved March 19, 2018.[non-primary source needed][non-primary source needed]
- Campbell, Nigel (May 27, 2014). "Carmen Carrera Clashes w/ RuPaul In 'Tranny' Controversy". Instinct. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Nichols, JamesMichael (May 23, 2014). "RuPaul Responds To Controversy Over The Word 'Tranny'". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- D'Angelo, Rafi (March 19, 2014). "RuPaul's Drag Race Crosses the Line with "Female or Shemale"". Slate. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Nichols, JamesMichael (April 1, 2014). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Producers Respond To Claims Of Transphobia". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Peeples, Jason (March 23, 2014). "RuPaul Further Responds to Transphobic Accusations: "I've Been a 'Tranny' For 32 Years"". The Advocate. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- D'Addario, Daniel (May 27, 2014). "RuPaul's aggressive tirade in defense of the term "tranny"". Salon. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Aitkenhead, Decca (March 3, 2018). "RuPaul: 'Drag is a big f-you to male-dominated culture'". The Guardian. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Reynolds, Daniel (March 10, 2018). "The Meaning of RuPaul's Apology: What Changed From 2014 to 2018?". Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Duffy, Nick (March 5, 2018). "RuPaul compares transgender drag queens to Olympics drug cheats, doubles down on Drag Race 'ban'". PinkNews. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Towle, Andy (March 6, 2018). "RuPaul Tweets 'Regret' for 'Hurt I Have Caused' to Trans Community for 'Drag Race' Eligibility Remarks". Towleroad Gay News. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- "RuPaul reveals he married boyfriend in January". BBC News. March 16, 2017.
- Milton, Josh (November 26, 2019). "RuPaul discusses his open marriage in rare, candid interview". PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "Georges LeBar". www.georgeslebar.com.
- "RuPaul's Recipe For Success? Love Yourself And Stay Flexible". NPR. March 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
RuPaul, who splits time between Los Angeles and a 60,000-acre ranch in Wyoming, says one of the secrets to his success is adaptability.
- Boyle, Louise (March 17, 2020). "RuPaul: Environmental outcry after Drag Race star suggests he allows fracking on ranch". The Independent. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "RuPaul Has a Fracking Empire on His Wyoming Ranch". Earther. Gizmodo. March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "The Most Unexpected Revelation From RuPaul's Recent NPR Interview? He Might Be Fracking". Texas Monthly. March 19, 2020. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- ""Don't f*ck it up": RuPaul issues plea ahead of US presidential vote". PinkNews. November 7, 2016.
- "RuPaul "feels like death" about Donald Trump's election". PinkNews. December 15, 2016.
- "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Is Leaving TV's Biggest Gay Network – Now What?". Huffington Post. March 23, 2017.
- Sim, Bernardo (September 10, 2019). "RuPaul's Drag Race: 10 Things You Didn't Know About RuPaul". Screenrant.com. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- Michael Schulman (February 23, 2014). "For RuPaul, A Second Act with 'Drag Race' - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- "RuPaul Loves Wrestling 'For All The Reasons You Think'". YouTube. January 9, 2020. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- "See RuPaul and Cory Booker react to finding out they're cousins". CNN. October 29, 2020.
- Peeples, Jase. "Listen: RuPaul Debuts Official Podcast 'What's the Tee?'". Advocate.com.
- RuPaul: What's The Tee? With Michelle Visage website.
- Perkins, Dennis (March 19, 2018). "John Oliver hijacks homophobe Mike Pence's bunny book with a better one in A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo". AV Club. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- Lecaro, Lina (May 3, 2018). "RuPaul's DragCon Returns to Wow L.A." L.A. Weekly. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- Hobro, Marie E. (May 22, 2018). "RuPaul's DragCon LA returns for its fourth year". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- "RuPaul Made a PSA for National Voter Registration Day". www.out.com. September 27, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Taylor 10/17/2018, Jeff. "RuPaul Wants You to Vote". LOGO News. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- "Drag Ambassador Program". Drag Out The Vote. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Brett, Martin (2008). Top Chef: The Cookbook: Original Interviews and Recipes from Bravo's Hit Show (2nd ed.). San Francisco, California 94107: Chronicle Books LLC. p. 52. ISBN 978-0811875226. Retrieved June 29, 2020.CS1 maint: location (link)
- "RuPaul to Appear on Next Wednesday's Episode of 'The Face'". DragOfficial.com. April 2, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
- Pedersen, Erik (February 14, 2018). "'Grace And Frankie' Renewed For Season 5 On Netflix; RuPaul To Guest Star".
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 11, 2018). "RuPaul Comedy Series 'AJ And The Queen' Set On Netflix From Michael Patrick King". Deadline.
- LeRoy, Jason (September 12, 2015). "Peaches & Bianca: The Ultimate Old Lady Drag Smackdown". Left Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Nolfi, Joey (November 8, 2019). "Kristen Stewart, Charlie's Angels fight evil with RuPaul's Drag Race queens in new short film". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 10, 2019.