Other than his height, a considerable 6′7″, RuPaul is an average-looking man with a pleasant, freckled face and an open smile. Dressed as a woman, with heels and bouffant hair, he is over seven feet tall and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Despite the fact that society frowns on cross dressing, RuPaul has battled seemingly impossible odds to become an internationally famous pop culture icon. “He is,” wrote Mim Udovitch in Rolling Stone, “…this nation’s preeminent drag queen pop star.” Although he seems suddenly ubiquitous, an overnight sensation, RuPaul’s rise to stardom was over a decade in the making, and a goal he has had resolutely in sight since childhood. A relentless self-promoter, RuPaul has engineered a multimedia career as an actor, singer, author, talk show host, radio DJ, and product pitchperson.
Previously an androgynous, grunge-drag go-go dancer in the midtown Atlanta clubs, RuPaul discovered real drag in the mid-1980s. In his 1994 autobiography, Lettin’ It All Hang Out, he wrote that “the impact it had on people was amazing. But the impact it had on me was even more amazing. I honestly didn’t know I had a great pair of legs until I got into drag and slipped on those pumps.” By 1993 he had been offered a recording contract with Tommy Boy Records and had a hit record in Supermodel (You Better Work!). Two years later he became the first drag queen ever to secure a cosmetics contract, with Toronto-based Makeup Art Cosmetics. Although he had starred in several low-budget comedy horror films, he landed his first mainstream movie role in 1994, when he did a cameo as the Bodega Woman in Spike Lee’s Crook-lyn. Other roles followed. The RuPaul Show, a late-night talk/variety show debuted in 1996 on cable’s VH1.
RuPaul’s phenomenal success is due in part to the spectacular illusion of femininity he creates in a three-hour transformation, but also owes much to his own bubbly personality. “I’m not the greatest actor, singer, or even drag queen,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “I knew my biggest asset was my personality, but people couldn’t see me just as I am.” He explained a significant factor of his appeal to Liz Smith in In teruiew. “I think I’ve been able to slip through [to the mainstream],” he said, “because I’ve taken some of the sexuality out. Also, drag queens are known as bitchy-and I’m not.”
At a Glance…
Born RuPaul Andre Charles, November 17, 1960, in New Orleans, LA, son of Irving Charles (a beauty supply house owner) and Ernestine Charles (a clerk in the registrar’s office at San Diego City College).
Career: Multimedia entertainer, actor, singer, dancer, talk show host, 1981—. Member of groups RuPaul and the U-Hauls (1982), Wee Wee Pole (1983); starred in several low-budget comedy films: Starrbooty, Starrbooty II, Starrbooty lit, Trilogy of Terror, Terror 3D, Wild Thing, Connie Francis Story, Mahogany It, American Porn Star, Psycho Bitch, Voyeur, Police Lady, Police Lady II, In Ferno, Just Between Girlfriends (1984-1993); appeared in B-52’s video “Love Shack”, 1989; appeared in films Crooklyn (1994), To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), Red Ribbon Blues (1995), A Mother’s Prayer (1995), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Wigstock: The Movie (1995), Smoke (1995), Blue in the Face (1995), Fled (1996), A Very Brady Sequel (1996); recorded Sex Freak (Funtone, 1985), Starrbooty: Motion Picture Soundtrack (Fun-tone, 1986), “Ping Ting Ting” (Funtone, 1987), Starr-booty’s Revenge (Funtone, 1990), “I’ve Got That Feeling” (Cardiac, 1991), “Supermodel-House of Love” (Tommy Boy, 1993), “Back To My Roots” (Tommy Boy, 1993), Supermodel of the World (Tommy Boy, 1993), “A Shade Shadey (Now Prance)” (Tommy Boy, 1993), “Little Drummer Boy” (Tommy Boy, 1993), (w/Elton John) “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” (MCA, 1994), “What You See is What You Get” on Addams Family Values Soundtrack (Atlas, 1994), Foxy Lady (Rhino, 1996); spokesmodel for MAC cosmetics, 1995—; spokesmodel for Baileys Irish Cream, 1995; co-chairperson of M.A.C. AIDS Fund, 1995-.
RuPaul Andre Charles was born in New Orleans on November 17, 1960, the third of four children and the only boy. He was raised in San Diego. His father, Irving Charles, was originally an electrician and later, the owner of a beauty supply house. RuPaul’s mother, Ernestine, a clerk in the registrar’s office at San Diego City College, was a Creole native of St. Martinsville, Louisiana. Ernestine was Toni to her friends, but the neighborhood children called her Mean Miss Charles, according to RuPaul. All of Ernestine’s children’s initials were R.A.C. RuPaul told the Washington Post that his mother got his name from an article in Ebony magazine. “It was spelled Ripoll, but she’s Creole, so she made it into this saucy, Frenchy concoction,” he said.
RuPaul’s childhood was difficult. His parents were emotionally distant and divorced when he was seven. He wrote in Lettiri It All Hang Out that he knew from early childhood that he was different, that he didn’t belong. He was popular, however. “I was never anonymous,” he wrote. “Everybody always knew who I was. I had a unique name … and I was very feminine-looking. From being around girls all the time I acted feminine too, and was continually being mistaken for a girl. So I already had something of a name for myself as an androgynous enigma.” He told the Washington Post he planned even as a small child to be famous one day. “It’s all exactly what I projected for myself years ago,” he said of his stardom. “At five-years-old, I realized I was a superstar trapped in a five-year-old’s body. And I had to do something about that!” RuPaul’s older sisters were twins, seven years his senior. From them he absorbed the minutiae of pop culture, even learning a runway walk from sister Renatta, a Barbizon-modeling-school graduate. His family was supportive. He told the New York Times that “everything I did was applauded. It was like, ‘Yea, girl, yea!’”
After being asked to leave Patrick Henry High because of chronic truancy, RuPaul moved to the eastern suburb of El Cajon with Renatta and her new husband, and he went with them when they moved to Atlanta in 1976. There he attended the Northside School of Performing Arts, although he did not graduate. A pivotal event that year was seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “I loved the freedom of it,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I also loved the weird black humor, and it was the first time I really ‘got’ camp and that whole idea of adopting something based on how seriously it takes itself, while being totally whacked out and demented.”
In 1982 RuPaul made his first foray into show business. Fascinated by a public access cable program called The American Music Show, he sent them a photo of himself and a request to appear on the show. He was promptly invited as a guest and soon became a regular. He formed a band called RuPaul and the U-Hauls, which appeared regularly on the show. During this period, his look was androgynous grunge-drag, featuring war paint, a mohawk, and costumes he created himself from whatever was handy, such as white Hefty bags. He stumbled onto the concept of real drag when he appeared dressed as a girl as part of a skit with a group called the Now Explosion. His evolution to glamour drag would not occur for another ten years, however. When RuPaul and the U-Hauls broke up, he formed Wee Wee Pole, which performed at various Atlanta clubs. In 1983 he appeared in the first of many low-budget campy films with titles like Trilogy of Terror and Terror 3D. RuPaul noted in his book that although “these films brought me a certain notoriety … they weren’t putting food on the table.” In a dual effort at moneymaking and unabashed self-promotion, he sold postcards of himself as well as a series of two-dollar pamphlets-or “books,” as RuPaul calls them-of about 20 pages. These little books featured photos of RuPaul with pithy anecdotes, and were a sell-out. That summer RuPaul and some other drag queens, including Jon Ingle, who would become famous as the “Lady” Bunny, creator of Wigstock, went up to New York. They performed at the Pyramid in the east Village. RuPaul was a go-go dancer for $40 a night, which was not an easy gig since the bar he had to dance on was only two feet wide, and the ceiling was not very high. “Most of us bigger gals had to duck the entire time or get a sprinkler stuck in our wig,” he wrote of the experience.
Returning to Atlanta, RuPaul tried his hand at many different things at the margins of show business. He would later call this time his “college years.” He recorded an album for Funtone called Sex Freak, a title he would later regret. “The title was meant to say that I am a sexual oddity, an androgyne. People saw it as … Tm a … freak for sex,’” he wrote. He also acted in plays, in addition to working as a dancer. In 1986 he created the Starrbooty persona, a supermodel-tumed-superspy, which gave birth to spoofs of the 1970s Blaxploitation films, Starrbooty I, II, and III Starrbooty: The Motion Picture Soundtrack followed. He reprised the Diana Ross role in Mahogany II.
The winter of 1988 was a bad time for RuPaul. He had moved to New York again and started over from square one, but the do-it-yourself starmaking was not working. At last he returned to California. Although he had suicidal thoughts, he credits Oprah Winfrey with sustaining him during those dark days. He wrote that he would usually watch her show in one of the department stores in Beverly Center. January of 1989 marked a turning point in RuPaul’s career; he returned to New York and, abandoning the fright look, threw himself completely into glamour drag. He performed for the first time at Wigstock, the annual Labor Day drag queen festival in Manhattan. He was named Queen of Manhattan in 1990, perhaps a dubious honor to outsiders, but he made the most of it, and his career started to take off. He appeared in the B-52s’ “Love Shack” video. A demo tape he had sent out ended up at Tommy Boy Records, and a contract soon followed in 1992. He released an album in 1993, a pop-dance mix called Supermodel of the World, which produced smash hits and videos. He recorded a duet and video with Elton John in 1994, a reprise of “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” He made the rounds of the talk show circuit, and wrote his autobiography. He began to receive roles in several mainstream movies, beginning in 1994 with Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. He also appeared in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Fled (1996), and A Very Brady Sequel (1996), among others.
In 1995 RuPaul was named spokesmodel for Canadian Makeup Art Cosmetics, the first drag queen ever to hold such a position. M.A.C. founder Frank Toskan told Entertainment Weekly, “Why not? Who better than RuPaul to show what makeup can really do?” Who indeed? A print-ad endorsement deal with staid Baileys Irish Cream followed. Carol Moog, a psychologist and head of an advertising consulting company explained RuPaul’s crossover appeal in the Wall Street Journal. “RuPaul has managed to create a hip, yet clean image for himself. This is a way for mainstream Americans to experience the outlandish and do it safely, and in a nonthreatening way,” she said. In 1996 RuPaul became a talk show hostess when cable’s VH1 decided to go forward with The RuPaul Show, a late-night gabfest with guests like Dennis Rodman, Cher, and Diana Ross.
Citing Diana Ross as his number-one influence and stating that beauty knows no pain, it usually takes RuPaul three hours to transform himself into his glamorous alter ego. This process includes extensive shaving, crotch-tucking panties, a corset that nips his waist in, and careful makeup. He explained to Liz Smith, “If I’m on the road, and I don’t have a goatee or eyebrows, I can do it in an hour and a half. But I like to take three hours, not because I’m a man, but because it takes that long to do all that stuff-the lashes, the hair, lining the lips, contouring my nose ….” When asked about his size-13 heels, he told Rolling Stone, “I haven’t found a heel that’s been too high for me yet. The highest I’ve found are eight inches. Now if you have pumps that are closed, that can be painful. But if you have open-toed shoes, it’s no problem.” These days RuPaul’s costumes are couture outfits created by stylists Zaldy and Mathu. RuPaul points out that they are, however, just costumes. “It’s taken me awhile to accept the fact that I’m a big ole Black man who, like a nurse, fireman, or any other professional, wears a uniform to work-only mine is drag,” he told Essence. Noting that drag is not necessarily about lipsynching cross dressers or a sexual fetish, he told the Chicago Tribune, “It’s not a lifestyle to me. You won’t find me at home alone in drag watching television.”
While RuPaul’s success has not erased the cultural taboo on cross dressing, it has raised awareness, and has perhaps put a human face on it. His popularity stands as a tribute to his remarkable power of self-invention, perseverance, and sheer nerve. David Keeps summarized RuPaul’s achievement in a New York Times article. “RuPaul’s success moves the entertainment industry two steps forward,” he wrote. “As a pop performer he is a de facto social activist. As a recording artist, RuPaul marks the next step in the evolution of drag. Unlike Lypsinka, his act is not dependent on the voices of others; unlike Jimmy James, he is not trying to look or move like Marilyn Monroe. RuPaul is his own woman.” You go, girl.
Sex Freak, Funtone, 1985.
Starrbooty: Motion Picture Soundtrack, Funtone, 1986.
“Ping Ting Ting”, Funtone, 1987.
Starrbooty’s Revenge, Funtone, 1990.
“I’ve Got that Feeling”, Cardiac, 1991.
“Supermodel-House of Love”, Tommy Boy, 1993.
“Back to my Roots”, Tommy Boy, 1993.
Supermodel of the World, Tommy Boy, 1993.
“A Shade Shadey (Now Prance)”, Tommy Boy, 1993.
“Little Drummer Boy”, Tommy Boy, 1993.
With Elton John, “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart”, MCA, 1994.
“What You See is What You Get,” on Addams Family Values Soundtrack, Atlas, 1994.
Foxy Lady, Rhino, 1996.
“Love Shack” (B52’s), 1989.
“Good Stuff” (B52’s).
“Supermodel (You Better Work),” 1993.
“Back to My Roots,” 1993.
“A Shade Shadey (Now Prance),” 1993.
“Little Drummer Boy,” 1993.
“Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” (with Elton John), 1994.
To WongFoo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, 1995.
Red Ribbon Blues, 1995.
A Mother’s Prayer, 1995.
The Brady Bunch Movie, 1995.
Wigstock: The Movie, 1995.
Blue in the Face, 1995.
A Very Brady Sequel, 1996.
RuPaul: Lettin’It All Hang Out, New York: Hyperion, 1995.
Who’s Who in America, 1998, Vol. 2, 52nd Ed. New Providence, NJ: Marquis,1997.
Booklist, May 15, 1995, p. 1619.
Chicago Tribune, March 16, 1995, sec. 5 p. 7; June 29, 1995, sec. 5pp.l-2.
Entertainment Weekly, March 10, 1995, p. 13.
Essence, August, 1995, p. 59.
Harper’s Bazaar, February, 1996, pp. 176-80.
Interview, January, 1997, pp.33-35.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 11, 1996, p. 411.
Maclean’s, October 16, 1995, p. 83.
New Yorker, March 22, 1993, pp. 49-54.
New York Times, July 11, 1993, sec. 2, p. 23; June 9, 1995, p. C5; October 20, 1996, pp. 141,44.
People Weekly, July 26, 1993, pp. 147-48; June 12, 1995, p. 18; July 10, 1995, p. 27; September 23, 1996, p. 148.
Playboy, October, 1993, p. 17; July, 1995, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, April 24, 1995, p. 52.
Rolling Stone, August 5, 1993, p. 24.
Time, October 4, 1993, p. 93.
Wall Street Journal, September 1, 1995, p. B7.
Washington Post, September 17, 1993.
—Ellen Dennis French
"Rupaul 1960–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul-1960
"Rupaul 1960–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul-1960
Gender-bending RuPaul, who impersonates a glam orous blond diva with such success that reports from some corners have asserted fans may be unaware of his actual identity, was the first cross-dressing act to ever appear on the American pop charts. His 1993 single “Supermodel (You Better Work)” was a catchy club hit—disco-tempoed and zany—but some also saw the song and its success as symbolizing mainstream acceptance of another aspect of urban gay culture. “Every time I bat my eyelashes it’s a political act,” RuPaul once told Guy Trebay in the Village Voice.
“I always knew I would be famous,” declared RuPaul in an interview with Billboard’s Larry Flick. His origins as a diva lie in southern California in the mid-1960s, where he was born RuPaul Andre Charles, son of an electrician and a college clerk. The Charles family also included twin sisters, several years his senior, who were an important influence upon him. They adored clothes, and helped fuel his early obsessions with early-Seventies glamour queens like Cher and Diana Ross. Other women also influenced RuPaul greatly: “I got turned on to mules by my kindergarten teacher, Miss Garfield, and she drove a Cadillac and wore really sexy clothes,” he told Rolling Stone writer Mim Udovitch. From his mother, however, he would inherit a deep personal spirituality that surfaced in song lyrics later on. Ernestine Charles, who died of cancer just as her son was becoming a household name, was from rural Louisiana, “a very spiritual, spooky part of the country,” RuPaul told Liz Smith in Interview.
RuPaul’s early life was anything but idyllic, however. His parents divorced when he was seven, and as a teenager he suffered at home and at school. Escape seemed like a good choice, so at the age of fifteen he moved to Atlanta with his older sister, who had taken a job there. There he thrived, attending a performing-arts high school by day and, in time, appearing onstage in drag in the city’s club scene by night. With a group of friends he moved to New York in 1987. By now, RuPaul’s drag look was finessed to an extravagant degree, and he became well-known performer in the city’s receptive nightclub scene. His act was noteworthy for the fact that he did not impersonate someone else, such as Marilyn Monroe, but instead appeared as just a goddess-like, towering African-American with long blond hair; he also made a name by singing in his own voice, not lip-synching as many female impersonators do.
RuPaul’s success among the Manhattan demimonde led to a few brief record contracts for a single or two. But superstardom was what RuPaul had in mind. “Life is tough whether you choose to do nothing or climb Mount Everest—so why not climb Mount Everest?” he once
Born RuPaul Andre Charles, c. 1965, in San Diego, CA; son of Irving (an electrician) and Ernestine (a college clerk) Charles.
Began performing as a female impersonator in nightclubs in the Atlanta (Georgia) area, mid-1980s; moved to New York City, 1987, and performed in nightclubs and dance clubs there; released several singles; signed with Tommy Boy Records, c. 1992; released Supermodel of the World, 1993; signed with Rhino Records, c. 1996; released Foxy Lady, 1997.
Addresses: Record company —Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025.
told People’s Tim Allis. By 1992 Tommy Boy Records had recognized RuPaul’s potential and signed him. He recorded an entire album of songs, then hit the road for an exhausting ground-level marketing approach. In the first months of 1993—incidentally, not long after Madonna had added “voguing” to the common vernacular and the first Democratic president had been elected to the White House in sixteen years—RuPaul undertook a slew of tour dates in nightclubs across the country. The goal was to create momentum for the album’s first single, “Supermodel (You Better Work),” by getting it on club DJ playlists, and eventually, radio stations. A video for “Supermodel” also helped awaken interest, but still, Tommy Boy marketing people were slightly skeptical of the record selling in great numbers outside of the major markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where the drag-queen scene was well-established. Yet the catchy song caught on. “Tower Records and radio hotshots can’t take full credit for RuPaul’s success,” one music retailer told Billboard’s Flick. “It started in the clubs and in the gay community.”
RuPaul’s full-length Supermodel of the World album was released later in 1993, and included tracks like “A Shade Shadey (Now Prance),” “House of Love,” “Back to My Roots,” and even a cover of the classic disco hit from Chic, “Everybody Dance.” Fred Schneider from the B-52s made a guest appearance on the track “Stinky Dinky.” As a packaged whole, wrote Vince Aletti in the Village Voice, the record “conveys the fizzy, optimistic feel of late 1970s dance music without sounding a bit retro.” Aletti lauded the successful way in which RuPaul had blended camp and commerce into accessible pop. “Ru struts through all this froth with a lot less attitude and a lot more down-to-earth talent than you had any reason to expect,” Aletti noted, and saved particular praise for the cut “Back to My Roots,” a homage to elaborate African-American dos. “Who else could have turned an annotated mantra of black hair styles into an Afrocentric aria?” Aletti wondered.
Two other singles from Supermodel of the World also did well on the charts, and RuPaul’s star rose. He was especially pleased that his personal beliefs were evident in the mix. “I feel a strong sense of responsibility to convey strong messages of self-love and hope in my songs,” the singer told Billboard’s Flick. “Sometimes I feel like [I am the] embodiment of the life plight—and the embodiment of survival and victory. I derive so much energy from that. I’m going for it in life not just for myself, but to also show people that anything is possible. I’m living proof of that.” Yet fame did have its downside, and the subtleties behind RuPaul’s get-over-yourself approach weren’t always fully grasped. At the MTV Video Music Awards in September of 1993, he went onstage with senior comic Milton Berle (who used to dress as a woman in the 1950s), but the pair hissed insults at one another on the air, and RuPaul was the recipient of a large amount of media reproach for his remarks. Later, RuPaul declared he got over the whole incident relatively quickly. “One thing I’ve learned about being in the spotlight is that things do change, and today’s press is tomorrow’s poopie litter,” he told Flick in Billboard.
Between albums, some major coups came RuPaul’s way. He was named spokesmodel for M.A.C. Cosmetics, appeared in A Very Brady Sequel, and landed his own talk show on the VH1 cable network in which he interviewed celebrities such as Cher and Dennis Rodman. Yet RuPaul out of costume went virtually unrecognized on the street, a mixed blessing of sorts. “When I’m dressed up as this goddess, people trip over themselves to give me things,” RuPaul pointed out to People writer Allis. “But as an African-American male, I can walk into an elevator and have people clutch their handbags.”
Rhino Records became RuPaul’s new label with his second release, Foxy Lady. He co-wrote most of the songs, and as he explained to gossip columnist Smith in the interview chai, “it’s been scientifically engineered with my new radio ears for airplay, and it fits into a lot of different formats. One song, ‘Failing,’ is about falling in love again—which is tricky because people don’t want to hear me sing about anything like that. They want [to hear] All right! You can do it!’ Or ‘You look good! C’mon out here!’” That track, “Falling,” was an unusually mainstream R&B number, but Foxy Lady’s first single was “Snapshot,” the behind-the-wig tale of a drag queen. It would become the first Rhino pop song to chart since 1987. Alanna Nash critiqued the album for Stereo Review and faulted a disco-beat-heavy production, which she theorized was perhaps the result of its several producers. “Foxy Lady often sounds like the rumblings of a bank of overheated computers,” Nash opined.
With a talk show, a music career, his 1995 autobiography, and steady film offers, RuPaul’s plans to conquer the world with love and lipliner seem to be on the right trajectory. “We’re all on this planet to learn and evolve and to be more godlike,” RuPaul told Rolling Stone writer Anthony Bozza. “Each of us has such incredible energy, and once you understand it, the party really begins.”
Lettin’ It All Hang Out (autobiography) Hyperion, 1995.
“Supermodel (You Better Work),” Tommy Boy, 1993.
Supermodel of the World, Tommy Boy, 1993.
Foxy Lady, Rhino, 1997.
Billboard, June 5, 1993, p. 1; December 25, 1993, p. 46; November 2, 1996, p. 100.
Interview, January 1997, p. 33.
People, July 26, 1993; September 23, 1996.
Premiere, October 1992, p. 120.
Rolling Stone, August 5, 1993, p. 24; April 3, 1997, p. 28.
Stereo Review, February 1997, p. 136.
Village Voice, September 8, 1992, p. 19; July 6, 1993, p. 63.
"RuPaul." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul
"RuPaul." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul
Full name, RuPaul Andre Charles; born November 17, 1960, in San Diego, CA; son of Irving Andrew (an electrician) and Ernestine (a college clerk; maiden name, Fontenette) Charles. Education: Attended North-side School of the Performing Arts.
Career: Actor, singer, talk show host, and radio personality. RuPaul Morning Show, WKTU 103.5 (New York City), host; worked as nightclub performer; appeared in advertising for Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur, 1996, and WebEx; appeared in an Old Navy television commercial, 1999; serves as spokesperson for MAC cosmetics company. Previously worked as a used car salesman.
Awards, Honors: Vito Russo Entertainer Award, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, 1999; Lifetime Achievement Award, The Most Beautiful Transsexuals in the World Association, 2002.
Bodega woman, Crooklyn, 1994.
Mrs. Cummings, The Brady Bunch Movie, United International Pictures, 1995.
Himself, Wigstock: The Movie, Hallmark Home Entertainment, 1995.
A dancer, Smoke, Miramax, 1995.
Dancer, Blue in the Face (also known as Brooklyn Boogie), Miramax, 1995.
Miss Rachel Tensions, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Universal, 1995.
Duke, Red Ribbon Blues, 1995.
Himself, Catwalk, Arrow, 1995.
Title role, Shantay, 1995.
Himself, Fled, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1996.
Mrs. Cummings, A Very Brady Sequel, Paramount, 1996.
Himself, Alma, Life Size Releasing, 1997.
Himself, Edtv (also known as Ed TV), Universal, 1999.
(As RuPaul Charles) Mike, But I'm a Cheerleader (also known as Make Me Over), Lions Gate Films, 1999.
(As RuPaul Charles) Daryl.com, Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, 1999.
Narrator, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Lions Gate Films, 2000.
(As RuPaul Charles) For the Love of May, 2000.
Ginger Markum, Who Is Cletis Tout?, Paramount Classics, 2001.
Himself, Sylvester: Mighty Real, 2002.
(As RuPaul Charles) Don Williams, Arrested Soul (also known as Louisiana Son; short), 2002.
(As RuPaul Charles) Skin Walker, 2004.
Himself, Dangerous Liaisons, 2005.
Himself, Disco: Spinning the Story (documentary), Koch Vision, 2005.
Himself, The Making of Michael Lucas' "Dangerous Liaisons" (documentary), Lucas Entertainment, 2006.
Radio Kissin', Whitepaddy, Big Six Film, 2006.
Ms. Strict, Zombie Prom, 2006.
Director, Lucas Encounters: The Heat of the Moment, Lucas Entertainment, 2006.
Television Appearances; Series:
(As RuPaul Charles) Host, The RuPaul Show, VH1, 1996–99.
Hollywood Squares, 1998.
(As RuPaul Charles) Guest host, In the Life, PBS, 2001.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Deacon "Dede," A Mother's Prayer, USA Network, 1995.
Charles, An Unexpected Life, USA Network, 1998.
(As RuPaul Charles) Jimmy, The Truth about Jane, Lifetime, 2000.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Presenter, The 1993 MTV Music Video Awards, MTV, 1993.
(Uncredited) The 1993 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 1993.
The CLIO Awards, Fox, 1995.
The State's 43rd Annual Halloween Special, CBS, 1995.
Presenter, VH1 '97 Fashion Awards, VH1, 1997.
Presenter, The 24th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, ABC, 1997.
(Uncredited) Himself, This Is My Life, BBC, 1998.
Motown 40: The Music Is Forever, ABC, 1998.
Narrator, Shock Video 2001: A Sex Odyssey, HBO, 2000.
The Sixth Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, ABC, 2000.
VH1 Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross (also known as VH1 Divas 2000), VH1, 2000.
(As RuPaul Charles) 100 Greatest Dance Songs of Rock & Roll, VH1, 2000.
Video Killed the Radio Star, VH1, 2000.
RuPaul: Fairest of Them All, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.
(As RuPaul Charles) Heroes of Black Comedy, Comedy Central, 2002.
Voice of champagne courvoisier, The Goovenians (animated), Cartoon Network, 2002.
The Evolution Will Be Televised, 2005.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
(Uncredited) Danielle, Saturday Night Live (also known as SNL), NBC, 1993.
The Word, Channel 4, 1993.
Marje, "Put to the Test," Sister, Sister, The WB, 1995.
Himself, "Extremities," The Crew, Fox, 1995.
Himself, Mad TV, Fox, 1995.
Kevin, "Boyz II Men II Women," In the House, UPN, 1995.
Simone Dubois, "Javelin Catcher," Nash Bridges (also known as Bridges), CBS, 1996.
The Rodman World Tour, MTV, 1996.
Himself, "Ellen: With Child," Ellen, ABC, 1996.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996.
Witch judge, "Sabrina's Choice," Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (also known as Sabrina), ABC, 1998.
Simone Dubois, "Cuda Grace," Nash Bridges (also known as Bridges), CBS, 1998.
Voice, Disney's "Hercules" (animated), ABC and syndicated, 1998.
Bob, "Royal Heist," Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1998.
Brett, "Veronica Plays House," Veronica's Closet, NBC, 1999.
(As RuPaul Charles) William Landford, choreographer, "The Time She Came to New York," Time of Your Life, Fox, 1999.
Jerry/Sheri Walters, "Who Abandoned Who?," Any Day Now, 2000.
Himself, "Television Hosts," Weakest Link (also known as The Weakest Link USA), NBC, 2001.
Pepe Dutille, "Val in Space," V.I.P. (also known as V.I.P.—Die Bodyguards), syndicated, 2001.
Sweet Honey Chile, "Problems," Popular, The WB, 2001.
Madame Alicia, Port Charles, ABC, 2001.
Heinous Anus, "Gay Team," Son of the Beach, FX Channel, 2002.
Voice, Queer Duck, Showtime, 2002.
Himself, The Graham Norton Effect, Comedy Central, 2004.
Supermodel of the World, Tommy Boy, 1993.
Foxy Lady, Rhino, 1996.
Ho, Ho, Ho, Rhino, 1997.
RuPaul's Go-Go Box Classics, Rhino, c. 1999.
RedHot, RuCo Records, 2004.
RuPaul. ReWorked, RuCo Records, 2006.
Appeared in B52's "Love Shack"; RuPaul's "Free to Be"; and Diana Ross's "I Will Survive."
"Therapist Session," Lucas Encounters: The Heat of the Moment, Lucas Entertainment, 2006.
Lettin' It All Hang Out, Hyperion, 1995.
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 17, Gale Group, 1998.
The Advocate, August 23, 1994, p. 64.
Billboard, June 5, 1993, p. 1; December 25, 1993, p. 46.
GQ, June, 1997, p. 198.
Interview, January, 1997, p. 33.
People Weekly, July 26, 1993, p. 147.
Rolling Stone, August 5, 1993, p. 24.
RuPaul official site, http://www.rupaul.com, October 2, 2006.
"RuPaul 1960–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul-1960-0
"RuPaul 1960–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rupaul-1960-0