RuPaul blasted into pop culture in 1993 with his song Supermodel (You Better Work). Fast forward almost three decades, and he’s still workin’ it. He has three World of Wonder-produced series on Logo: RuPaul’s Drag Race and Untucked, both premiering their third seasons at the end of January, and RuPaul’s Drag U, which debuted in July. Realscreen grabbed some time with the fabulous one during MIPCOM, where he was appearing as a guest of Passion Distribution, the international distributor for Drag Race and Drag U.
How has your experience been, working with World of Wonder on these three shows?
I’ve been working with them for 25 years so it’s the family you want to have. We have the same aesthetic; we all come from the East Village in New York, this punk rock background.
How does working in reality differ from the film and music industries?
It’s more fulfilling because you get people playing themselves, bringing the character and courage it took to get them to the table. It’s inspiring and invigorates me. Especially on our show, these are real stories of people who come from small towns who say, ‘I’m going to be fabulous whether you like it or not’ and you can’t help but be moved by that.
Are the shows controversial in different markets?
[The broadcaster] that bought our show in Israel told me they were fined because they put our show on before 10 o’clock. The censor had a problem with me saying the line, ‘Gentleman, start your engines. May the best woman win.’ You never know what’s going to offend people.
It’s surprising that different markets still have so many strict rules. I feel so lucky to have Jersey Shore. I’ve never seen it, but I’m glad it’s there and that it hasn’t been shut down by some government authority.
I don’t think our show could’ve happened ten years ago or five years ago. The climate politically and socially wasn’t ready for it. When fear is in the air people shut down. They’re not into experimentation and definitely not gender experimentation.
What has been the key to your longevity in show business?
I’ve been versatile and if the client wants scrambled eggs and bacon, I can do it. You want me to bake a cherry pie? I’ll give a try! I did a morning radio show, I sing, dance, act, you name it. If I fixated on doing just one thing, I wouldn’t be here.
Plus, over these years, I’ve kept it kind. I don’t know if that really has anything to do with it, because I’ve seen a lot of assholes who continue to work, too. I’m not high maintenance. I leave that for my therapist, but not at work.