Though he's built an empire out of being out-there, not too much is actually known about the man known as RuPaul, whose devoted following nearly lost it when the fact that he was married came out this week. Fortunately, they'll be getting even more Ru later this month with the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, his reality show whose fierce drag queen competition also guest stars Lady Gaga and Wendy Williams this time around. Before the games begin next Friday, RuPaul paused on a recent morning that found him at home in L.A., "wearing a Ronald Reagan mask and my mother's panties," to share his culture diet—and his thoughts on "that idiot Manchurian pumpkin" known as Donald Trump.
What can you tell me about the ninth season of Drag Race?
You know, every year we’ve done this, we think, well, we must have mined the best drag queens in the United States by now. But no, they keep coming; they’re multiplying. This last bunch is just fascinating, and I think it has to do with people who are warriors, who are courageous, who against all odds sustain in a male-dominated culture. For anyone to play with femininity is almost an act of treason—not just for drag queens, but for women, too.
Right. You started filming late last summer, before it really seemed possible Trump would be in office, but do you feel all that has an added significance now that he is?
Obviously we didn’t know the outcome of the election, but drag queens have always been at the forefront of the political movement—not just of gay rights, but of human rights and, really, emotional rights. Because the most political thing you could ever do—and this is true for anyone—is to follow your heart and to follow what you like to do. Certainly, drag queens are the marines of the gay rights movement; we threw the first brick at Stonewall.
What was it like working with Lady Gaga?
You know, she’s a New York girl who grew up around bohemian free-thinkers. She felt right at home. In fact, she wrote to me on Twitter many years ago that she wanted to be a judge on the show, and it just took this long to coordinate our schedules. And then all the girls absolutely loved her being there, but I don’t think anybody loved it more than Gaga herself, actually.
Is there anything you can tell me about the girls this time around?
Well, I don’t want to give anything away.
That's fair. Getting back to you, what’s the first thing you read in the morning?
I read the New York Times, and I swear, every day I think, today’s the day I’m going to unsubscribe. I still hold a grudge over their missing the outcome of the election. You know, every day they’d have a little blurb that would say, “Hillary has a 90 percent chance of winning.” And how f---ing out of sync were they? I still hold a grudge about that. They’re supposed to be the world’s authority on information, and how could they get it so f---ing wrong? I f---ing hate them for that, and I swear, every day I think to myself, today I’m going to unsubscribe. [Laughs.]
Why have you stuck with them? Do you think they’ve gotten any better?
No, no, no, they need to go harder. It’s taken them too long to even get harder with calling that bulls--t used car salesman out. They need to call it for what it is, because democracy is under siege, and they need to understand that. They’re still playing by the rules of the 20th century. This is the 21st century, and they need to change the rules. So the press has to come up and say, “You know what, motherf---er? You are bulls---t and you are a f---ing liar.”
Are there any other news sources you look at?
I read the LA Times, which is another piece of crap. [Laughs.] You know, I think the thing last November I was most disappointed with was the fact that mankind, humankind, hasn’t moved along faster in my lifetime. Technology has just expanded leaps and bounds, but the human emotional system is still so archaic. We are a very primitive culture. We still grapple with the same old stupid bulls--t of who goes to what f---ing bathroom. Really? Give me a goddamn break.
What books are on your bedside table right now? To distract from all that?
I usually am reading several books at the same time on my iPad. I prefer it because, you know, traveling and s--t. Ain’t nobody got time to be carrying all these books around. Right now, I’m reading Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and [laughs] this young adult novel by Paul Rudnick called It’s All Your Fault.
Aw. Do you read a lot of Y.A.?
No, I’m just a big fan of Paul Rudnick. He’s hilarious.
What TV shows have been been watching lately?
Well, after the election, that was another thing I decided to do: I decided, I’m finally going to cut the cord, because I want to see that idiot Manchurian pumpkin’s face as little as possible. So I f---ing cut the cord finally right after the election. I’m just doing Netflix and Hulu. No cable. Done. And I was really only getting it in the first place for Judge Judy and Jeopardy. The first few months of having Netflix, I watched the whole season of 30 Rock, and after it was done, I decided I wanted to start all over again, so right now I’m on my second round. I’ve watched TV my whole life, and it’s absolutely one of my top 10 favorite sitcoms of all time. And I watched Arrested Development. I just started House of Cards. I never did the Mad Men thing, but it’s on my list of things to watch, and I’m excited about it. Aside from that. I really don’t have a lot of time to watch television.
Do you ever make it to the movie theater? What was the last movie you saw there?
No, because humans have lost their ability to be civil in a movie theater, I will not go. I’m one of those people that pays attention to every f---ing thing, and if somebody picks up their phone or if they say something, I hear it. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people, so I stopped going to the movie theater years ago. The only thing I miss is the popcorn.
What’s the last piece of art you bought?
I’m redecorating my house in New York and listen, I don’t stand on ceremony, so I bought these reproductions of my favorite Matisse drawings. [Laughs.] They were very inexpensive, and they’re just as beautiful as a real Matisse, so I have no guilt. They’re abstract figures of women’s bodies—just kind of his beautiful, crazy, abstract human forms.
What’s the last museum exhibition that you loved?
Oh my god. About two weeks ago, here in L.A., I went to the Petersen [Automotive] Museum, all about cars. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved cars. I have four cars myself, and if I had more garage space. But the Petersen Museum here has the most amazing designs of cars you could ever imagine, from back before all cars looked like bars of soap. Just gorgeous.
Is that when yours are from, too?
The oldest I have is a 1968 260SE Mercedes-Benz convertible, which is really gorgeous. Then I have my mother’s 1979 two-door Volvo which is tomato red with these gorgeous low rider rims on it. Then I have an ‘89 SL60 Mercedes-Benz little convertible. And then I have an SUV that’s my everyday car, which is a 360 GLK Mercedes-Benz that’s brown. So I have two brown cars, one red, and then the little two-seater is blue-on-blue.
What’s the last song you had on repeat?
I DJed recently at Planned Parenthood benefit in New York at the McKittrick Hotel, and I actually was just thinking about how I left a song off my playlist: “So Divine” by a Romanian group called Deepcentral. I regret I didn’t get a chance to play it, but I only got to play 30 songs.
What was the last concert you went to?
Lady Gaga, on her dive bar tour. She invited me to see that. It was at this small club here in Los Angeles, and it was brilliant. It harkened back to my days in dive bars, since I got my start in punk rock bands and clubs just like that.
What was the last thing you saw at the theater?
Last weekend in New York, I went down to a theater on Bleecker Street and saw The View UpStairs [a musical about a gay bar in ‘70s New Orleans]. It was fantastic.
Is there any release coming up soon you’re excited about, besides season nine?
I do love this show called The Catch. It’s a Shonda Rhimes show, but I love it because there’s this man on there called Jacky Ido, and he is just exquisite. The second season just premiered, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again. He is the most beautiful man you will ever lay eyes on. [Laughs.]
Who are your favorite people to follow on social media?
[Laughs.] I love Quinn Cummings, who’s the former child star from the movie The Goodbye Girl. I also love this guy Mike T, who is hilarious, and of course Paul Rudnick. I just started following this guy yesterday called Bradd Jaffy, who’s very political. I mostly go on Twitter; I have to force myself to remember Instagram. And I do it, but usually Twitter’s easier for me because I have TweetDeck and it’s right on my desktop.
Last thing: What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
I get my iPhone and I listen to a lecture by Eckhart Tolle, and I’ve been doing that for years. It’s a way to lull my busy brain to sleep. I’ve been listening to his book A New Earth for years to go to bed. You can’t get enough of it. The thing is, the brain is like a tail that grows back. The old way of thinking for humans—your body, your brain just reverts back to it. It’s like your brain has amnesia. So it’s important to have a spiritual practice that helps you to keep a balance in your life. So hearing the same lecture over and over again—which you intuitively know already, without even hearing the book—it’s important to keep that balance. If you’re hearing all the mishegoss out in the world, you need that counterbalance of the truth.
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