Fusing tall, dark, and handsome with exaggerated femininity, the 6'7" celebrity drag queen RuPaul was born in San Diego, CA, as RuPaul Andre Charles. He attended Northside School for the Performing Arts but dropped out to get his GED and work for his brother-in-law's car lot. His first television appearance was in 1982 on the public access show "The American Music Show" as the leader of "RuPaul and the Uhauls." In the late '80s he and electroclash pioneer Larry Tee moved to N.Y.C. to hang out in dance clubs and make records. When he perfected his "black hooker drag" look, RuPaul was voted the Queen of Manhattan on the party scene and appeared in the B-52's music video for "Love Shack." During this time, he released his debut album on the Funtone label and continued his recording career on Tommy Boy Records. In 1994, he made his feature film debut in Spike Lee's Crooklyn as a woman with an amazing blonde afro. The next year saw lots of cameos in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, Smoke, Blue in the Face, and Wigstock: The Movie. He started getting actual roles with the TV movie A Mother's Prayer, the comedy Red Ribbon Blues, and both Brady Bunch movies. In 1996, he began hosting the dance-music morning show on WKTU with Seduction vocalist Michelle Visage. Soon, VH1 took notice and gave him his own series, the celebrity talk show and variety program The RuPaul Show. In the late '90s, he started appearing as a man under his full name RuPaul Charles. He played camp counselor Mike in But I'm a Cheerleader, Stockard Channing's friend Jimmy in the Lifetime movie The Truth About Jane, and guest-hosted the PBS series In the Life. He also briefly appeared in the crime comedy Who Is Cletis Tout? and narrated the documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. In 2003, he began filming Rob Howard's Skin Walker. He went on to host the reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race.
Biography by Andrea LeVasseur
- Performed with the San Diego Children's Theater in 1972.
- Crowned Best Afro and Best Dancer of his ninth-grade class.
- First TV appearance was in 1982 on The American Music Show, a local public-access program.
- Made movie debut in the 1983 indie film The Blue Boy Terror. A year later was cast in Trilogy of Terror, which marked his first performance in drag.
- Wrote, published and distributed first autobiography If You Love Me, Give It to Me in 1984.
- Can be seen in the B-52s' 1989 video for "Love Shack."
- Spokesmodel for M.A.C Cosmetics' VIiva Glam products.
- Throughout the 1980s found local success as a singer; gained national attention in 1993 with the tune he cowrote called "Supermodel (You Better Work)," which received an MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Dance Video.
- Cohosted a morning radio show in New York City in 1996.
- Received the 1999 Vito Russo Entertainer Award by GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and in 2010 won honors from the group for reality program RuPaul's Drag Race.