In 1993, for the first time in American television, we saw a queer black man dressed in full drag interviewed on late night television by America’s first black late-night talk show host. Seeing RuPaul on The Arsenio Hall Show. was a fierce entertainment moment of many first. Today, the message that RuPaul Charles delivered then is just as relevant. “Everybody say love! Now drive that down the San Diego freeway and get outta here! Everybody wants to be loved, everybody wants to feel like they belong somewhere, and everybody wants to be respected, is that asking too much … no.”
RuPaul Charles is a pop culture visionary. He’s broken many glass ceilings for queer culture, but he also realized that the key to captivating an audience is the tenacity of being unapologetically authentic, and doing it with love. He’s said, “When you become the image of your own imagination it’s the most powerful this you can do!”
Today, RuPaul has experienced a resurgence in mainstream pop culture in what some may call a second act. Most notably for his nine-time Emmy Award-winning VH1 hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race, which just wrapped its “elevengendary” season. With a career spanning over 40 years, Ru has authored best sellers, launched product lines, and released over 30 albums with mega-hits like “Supermodel.” However, what’s most notable, is that within his four-decade legacy Ru’s message has not changed. Maybe now the world is finally ready to hear what momma Ru has been preaching.
In 1996 Vh1 premiered The RuPaul Show which aired 100 episodes in two years. In a full circle moment on June 10, 2019, FOX will premier RuPaul a new talk show giving momma Ru the platform to speak on all things love, politics, and everything in-between. With so much excitement surrounding Ru, and popularization of drag culture, now is a great time to explore what we’ve learned from Ru’s legacy and perhaps what we can expect from Ru in this new daytime talk format.
For more insight on Ru’s impact on pop culture and what’s next, I turned to “Ru’s girls.” RuPaul’s Drag Race, and in effect RuPaul himself, has launched the careers of over 140 drag entertainers, so who best to ask about momma Ru than her children? When Ru claims to have launched the careers over 140 drag superstars we’re not talking about nightly gigs at your local gay bar. Ru’s platform has helped these queens propel their careers to the next level. Even those who may have fallen out of mother’s good graces cannot deny the leg up momma Ru has provided.
I caught up with A Star Is Born Drag Superstar Willam Belli to get her thoughts on Ru and his new talk show. Willam is all for RuPaul as the next queen of talk television, remarking that “I’m glad a tall, seasoned bitch like Ru is leading the way. Let her crack the glass ceiling with that head seven and a half feet up in the air and then all the new dolls can climb on through too.” Despite a rough history with Ru and Drag Race (disqualified in Season 4) Willam admits Ru has had a significant effect on who she is as an entertainer. Belli says, “I remember seeing Ru and Michelle and thinking, ‘Oh, I can do this.'” As far as the current status of her relationship with momma Ru, Willam jokingly remarked, “Let the bridges you burn light the way.” Since RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4 Willam has been the face of campaigns for American Apparel, and found viral success with her music video parodies “Chow Down” and “Boy Is a Bottom”. You can expect to see Belli in a slew of new projects like an upcoming feature in the HBO documentary about Wigstock called Wig on Jun 18 and in the final season of Eastsiders that premieres this summer on Netflix.
Rupal’s influence has had an international effect, having spurred RuPaul’s Drag Race Thailand. Angele Anang the winner of Drag Race Thailand Season 2 and the first ever transgender winner in the show’s entire “herstory” says, “With anything Mama Ru does, I will support. RuPaul has done so much for the LGBTQ community, and I can’t wait to see how the show will turn out. I am definitely going to try to watch the show from Thailand if I can. In terms of my appearance, you’ll have to wait and see.” Because of the popularity of the franchise, Anang will make her U.S. performance debut this month, hosting a private World Pride Extravaganza in NYC this year along with fellow queens, Kana Warrior and Kandy Zyanide, joining the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s NYC office.
Drag Race All Stars Season 2 winner Alaska 5000 also weighed-in saying “I can’t wait to watch! Ru is very funny and engaging and also insightful … I’m pretty sure RuPaul won’t be in Drag during the daytime, which I don’t blame him. If there is a space for Drag in the daytime, I recommend an umbrella, a wide-brimmed hat, and a heavy pair of sunglasses.” Alaska also shared her admiration for Ru’s long career as a recording artist, which inspires her to keep pumping out her own hits. “He is prolific and has a huge body of work musically. Whenever I’m wondering if I should put out another album, I just remember RuPaul has about 30 studio albums and Dolly Parton has about 300, so artists like these inspire me to do more.” You can hear more from Alaska on her new solo album, Vagina and this July she’ll be touring Europe in the musical collaboration, Amethyst Journey.
Even if Ru isn’t expected to dress in full drag this time around, his show is set to be no less dragtastic with colorful appearances from familiar faces like Michelle Visage, and Ross Mathews. RuPaul debuts June 10th on Fox.