Black History Month is observed every February to commemorate the important people and momentous events in African-American history. Hotspots honors Black History Month by profiling black LGBT people who have made noteworthy achievements in their personal or professional lives.
(born November 17, 1960)
RuPaul Andre Charles was born in San Diego, California on November 17, 1960. His mother, originally from Louisiana, gave him the name “Ru”Paul as “Ru” sounded like “roux,” the base for gumbo, a particularly popular dish in Louisiana. In the 1980s and early 1990s, RuPaul made a name for himself first as an underground filmmaker and then as a singer, before breaking into the drag scene. Originally his style of performance was less mainstream, and was considered “gender bending” and not full-on female impersonation. By 1993, he perfected the look that millions of people recognize today.
Also in 1993, he recorded a dance album called Supermodel of the World, which spawned the popular single “Supermodel (You Better Work).” It became a hit in the US and the UK, and was played heavily on MTV. His next two singles reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts, and another single, a duet of “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” featuring Elton John, made it to the Top Ten on the British charts. He went on to host a VH1 talk show, The RuPaul Show, with friend and radio personality Michelle Visage, and appeared in both Brady Bunch movies (as Jan’s guidance counselor). He also became the first drag queen to be featured as the face of MAC Cosmetics.
RuPaul released another album in 2004, Red Hot, earning himself two more top ten dance hits. In 2007, he re-released the soundtrack to the film Starrbooty, which he first produced when he was working in film 20 years before. The film was also released on DVD for the first time. In 2008, he started producing the reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race for Logo. The series, which has run six full seasons and is about to premiere the seventh, started out as a cult favorite and went on to achieve mainstream success, with TV.com calling it the best reality program on television. During this time, RuPaul used the exposure the reality show gave him to release three more albums: Champion (2009), Glamazon (2011), and Born Naked (2014).
RuPaul has won two GLAAD Media Awards: one for promoting equality nationwide, and one for his program RuPaul’s Drag Race. His reality program has also won an Entertainment Weekly award once and was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award twice.