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  IDENTITY

RU-de Awakening!
by Emmanuel Garcia
2004-07-01

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This summer promises to be HOT! HOT! HOT!

Red Hot that is. With the long overdue next album of RuPaul. The album, titled RuPaul~Red Hot, will be released this summer. The CD is a compilation of dance songs ready to set the dance floor ablaze.

RuPaul is larger than life. At 6'4', this towering diva has left a mark on pop culture! RuPaul first emerged on the scene in 1992 with his breakthrough hit 'Supermodel of the World,' which would certainly be on any gay culture soundtrack. Since then, RuPaul has released two other albums, collaborated on a duet with Elton John, and appeared in more than 17 motion pictures. He also was the first spokesmodel for M.A.C. Cosmetics.

RuPaul grew up in San Diego. He decided to return there four years ago to reconnect with himself and recharge his batteries, leaving the scene at the same time Madame Tussaud unveiled a wax model of him in the all-new Times Square Museum. Today, RuPaul is gearing up to reemerge into the spot light after a four-year hiatus.

I sat down and talked to this beauty about what we've been missing.

Emmanuel Garcia: The name of this magazine is Identity. How do you identify?

RuPaul: What?

EG: How do you identify?

RP: (laughs) What kind of stupid question is that? How do I identify? When does anybody every identify? What do you think, Emmanuel? When in a person's life do you ever get the opportunity to identify? Let me ask you, Emmanuel. You're asking me how do I identify ... I don't know. That's a ridiculous question! Emmanuel, is this serious? How do I identify ...

EG: Are there certain characteristics that define who you are? For example, some people identify as bisexual or African American or Catholic.

RP: You know what ... my whole life I've never identified as anything other than being Ru. I never sort of needed to co opt any other faction. ... I am Ru—that's it.

EG: There are no labels?

RP: No! No labels! I don't want to box myself in with all that crap. I don't want to sell myself short. If I'm Ru, it's unlimited. There is no other Ru. I'm secure enough just being Ru. I don't define myself by my sexuality, or my religion, or my politics, or if I'm a vegetarian—none of that stuff. The truth is I have to acknowledge the fact that I'm growing and learning, and I'm here to be on this planet to experience all of the human experiences. I don't want to shut any of them out.

EG: Let's talk about the new album, Red Hot. What inspired the title?

RP: It's called RuPaul Red Hot. It's not just Red Hot; it's RuPaul Red Hot! I'll tell you exactly why I called it RuPaul Red Hot. (laughs) It's because years ago I started out in Atlanta, Georgia, and I had a campaign. I used to put flyers up all over midtown to promote myself, and ... I became famous in Atlanta for just being promoted by myself.

I actually had a band at the time, but I was more famous for my self promotion. ... [It was] one of the slogans that I came up with [that] was the most popular that late at night people would drive by my apartment and scream it out. They would say 'RuPaul is Red Hot'.

A slogan I came up with all those years ago. ... I was thinking of calling it a few other things, and then it hit me that I should call it RuPaul Red Hot! In essence, I'm basically starting all over again. You know, I've been away from the scene for about five years doing other things, and now I'm getting back to show business in a big way! ... That's why I called it RuPaul Red Hot!

EG: How different is this RuPaul from the RuPaul of before?

RP: The difference now is that I took some time to recharge my batteries. I took some time to become a better brother, a better uncle, a better person, a better friend, and basically take time to smell the roses. I could appreciate it because ... at the time when I stopped doing things five years ago—four years ago, whenever that was—I wasn't having a lot of fun. It had become just routine. (sighs) It just wasn't any fun anymore.

So I really needed to get back in touch with the me that I abandoned and left behind.

EG: And now you're ready!

RP: Now I'm ready!

EG: What is your favorite track on this new album?

RP: Favorite track is a song called 'Coming Out of Hiding,' which really explains everything. The song sort of dropped in my lap. Me and my songwriting partner, Tom Trujillo, were fooling around and that song was a gift to us. We talk about it—where did that come from? It just fell on our laps, and it's a beautiful song.

It talks about how I feel and where I've been and what's going on with me, but it also speaks to [the] kids that I get letters from all over the world saying, 'My parents don't understand me; no one understands me. I feel like I'm all alone.'

EG: Is it weird getting those letters from people who have such a different mindset than you?

RP: No, it's not weird. ... I feel that way too.

I think everybody, whether you're gay or straight, ... feels that way. It's not a unique feeling. Some people feel it more intensely than others. Some people definitely feel more alienated than others. No, it's not weird. It's like getting a time machine letter from myself when I was 13 or 14, and I empathize with the people sending those letters as if I was 13 or 14 years old.

EG: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in the footsteps of your career?

RP: The advice I would give is you gotta learn who you are. You gotta learn to be yourself, to accept yourself, and to not be afraid to make a fool out of yourself—whatever you think a fool might be.

I had to go out and challenge all of the things that I was raised with—all the things that I was taught—not just by my parents but by society. I really had to buckle that and not listen to all that bullshit, with people saying boys do this and girls do that or if you're catholic you can't do this or if you're Jewish you can't do that. Fuck all that shit. You do whatever you want to do so long as you don't hurt anybody else.

EG: Shirley Q. Liquor is doing interludes on this album. What do you say to critics who say that she is offensive?

RP: Critics who think that she's offensive are idiots. They need to trust their gut because if they went with their gut they would know that she is so not a racist. Critics who thinks she is offensive are idiots! Listen, I've been discriminated against by everybody in the world: gay people, Black people, whatever. I know discrimination; I know racism, I know it very intimately. She's not racist! And if she were, she wouldn't be on the record.

EG: What do you call what you do? Would you call it drag?

RP: I really don't call it anything. I've said this for years in interviews and most people can't really grasp it. The truth is you're born naked and the rest is drag. Now that's a big statement and most people can't wrap their brains around it. You have to believe that what you are doing is something real. So, they can't wrap there brains around the idea that everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—you put on after the shower is drag.

Drag queens are shamans, they are the witch doctors of mythology and of cultures that remind us that this is not the real world. Drag critiques how people take themselves seriously, and so the truth is everything is drag.

Sure you can call it drag but is it anymore drag than being a burger flipper at McDonald's or a high society social x-ray on Madison Avenue?

EG: What is your favorite quote?

RP: This is my mother's. My mother would say, 'Blind Tom said, 'Sight beat the world and we shall see.'' For years, of course, I didn't know what the fuck that meant.

Now I think what it means is that the truth shall come to pass. The truth will prevail and come to pass. That's what I think it means. Now, my personal favorite quote is, 'What other people think of me is none of my business.'

EG: What does freedom mean to you?

RP: That's a good question! (Pauses) Freedom to me is the ability to explore the human experiences to the fullest or as close to that as we can. I'm a spiritual being having a human experience. To be able to really have that human experience to the fullest is what freedom means to me. It's totally different than what the Republicans in Washington would have you think of as freedom.

EG: Are you going to do a tour for this album?

RP: Yes I am, Goddamn it! I'm going to come to Chicago. I'm going to come everywhere. I'm gonna let these children have it! I'll tell you one of the things that really inspired me for this record was what's going on politically in the world today. Not just the politics in Washington, but cultural politics.

I really want to be a presence out there so that kids could see outside the box and see that you don't have to live your life in this way that Republicans would have you do it.

And it's not just Republicans, Democrats today are Republicans in liberal clothing.

The whole mentality of today is different than when I grew up. I grew up in a time when it was trendy to think outside the box. Now it's not, and that's one of the things that really motivated me. I said, 'OK, Ru, you know what? This spiritual path you've been on these past fucking-four years? Time's up! Let's get back to work!' So, yeah, I'm coming to Chicago! Lock up ya-kids!

Emmanuel Garcia is at: www.emmanuelgarcia.com


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