RuPaul

The Rise of

BY: MERYL GREEN

Andre Charles is an American actor, model, singer, songwriter, television host, and drag icon. She is, undoubtedly, the most famous and successful drag queen in American history, and since 2009, has hosted her namesake television series ’s Drag Race, for which she has received eight Primetime Emmy Awards. As of 2020, she has released 14 studio albums, has hosted over 13 seasons of Drag Race, and has created ’s DragCon (an annual fan convention and drag expo). RuPaul is, to put it lightly, one of the most influential drag performers of all time.

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first gained international fame with the release of her popular single “Supermodel (You Better Work)” in 1992. In 1994, she 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 same year, RuPaul received her own show on VH1, The Show, of which she hosted over 100 episodes. In 1995, released her autobiography Lettin’ it all Hang Out. For the remainder of the 1990s, RuPaul continued her prolific career releasing two more albums (including a Christmas album), and hosting her talk show and a radio show for WKTU in New York.

In 2004, RuPaul released her fourth studio album, Red Hot, on her own RuCo Inc. label. Despite the minimal press coverage the album release received, the single “Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous,” landed Ru at number two on the U.S. dance chart. The album’s second single “WorkOut” reached number five on the charts. In 2006, RuPaul released her first album, ReWorked.

RuPaul has won 8 Emmy Awards with Drag Race clocking in with 19 Wins, making it the most most-awarded reality competition show in history.

In 2008, RuPaul began producing RuPaul’s Drag Race, which originally aired on Logo. In 2009, Ru released her album, Champion, which produced four hit singles including “Cover Girl” and “Jealous of my Boogie.” The album peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart and number 26 on the Top Heatseakers chart. 

In April of 2011, RuPaul released her sixth studio album, Glamazon, which charted at number 11 on the Dance/Electronic Album chart. Later that year, season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race aired on Logo to widespread acclaim. After the season’s final episode, TV.com declared that Drag Race was the best reality TV show on television. In 2013, RuPaul joined forces with Colorevolution, a cosmetics manufacturer, to launch her debut makeup line of ultra-rich pigment cosmetics, as well as a beauty collection. On the fragrance she released in conjunction with her beauty collection, 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.”

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In 2015, RuPaul released her eighth studio album, Realness, which peaked at number six on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The album was heavily influenced by 1990s House music. In 2016, RuPaul released her tenth studio album, Butch Queen, which reached number 3 on the US Billboard Dance chart.

Since 2016, RuPaul has released another four albums, and been a prolific performer and host on television. She was the first drag queen to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Ru has also been a hugely influential activist and cultural changemaker for the LGBTQ+ community. In 1999, she received the Vito Russo Award at the GLAAD Media Awards for her work promoting equality, and in 2017, RuPaul was included on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

RuPaul is, to say the least, a truly iconic and influential performer. The breadth of her work can hardly be captured in a single sitting as she’s done everything from music to writing and podcasting to convention production. RuPaul is now world-famous as Drag Race spin offs have popped up on televisions worldwide, and one of her latest projects includes Drag Race UK. Her song “Supermodel” was recently remade, and you can check it out below.