Queen of the Road

2.1.2009

By Noah Michelson

What was it like mentoring and judging this pack of drag queens?
It was light guidance. These girls -- the fact that they are there means they're fierce and at the top of their game in this business. So they didn't really need that much mentoring. They just needed some guidance in terms of focusing on what the challenge at hand was. But they didn't need much.

How has drag changed in the last 15 years since you first burst out on the scene?
Drag really went underground during the Bush administration and it's ready to come back in the Obama administration and it's really great because it speaks volumes about our culture. Drag became less funny in the past 10 years. It became more serious where people were really focused on looking real rather than trying to make fun of or be irreverent or have a wink. Because during the times of fear that we've experienced in our culture in the past 10 years, the sense of humor is the first to go.

So severe, right?
Oh my God, it's crazy. That's why the fact that this show is on the air is such a great thing. Not just for me and television but for our culture -- it signals a real shift.

It seems like a real celebration in many ways. I didn't want the first episode to end. How has your life changed in the last 15 years?
I've actually had time to really appreciate my success of years earlier. When all that was happening to me I could appreciate it but I had to work. I had to work really hard all the time. So in the past few years -- I went off television in 1998 -- 10 years ago. In all those years I've had a real opportunity to spend time nurturing my personal life, which is really important for you to appreciate your professional life. I'm older and I have real gratitude for all the gifts I've been given and I do not take them for granted. The fact that I even still work today is pretty miraculous.

When you started out back in the early '90s you were really the first drag queen to show up on people's radios and TVs -- especially in Middle America. And because of that you became a kind of activist -- whether or not you wanted to be. Was that part of the plan? Or was that just a byproduct of your fame?
It wasn't part of my plan. My plan was to come to the planet, have a great time, and go out with a bang. If other people could get something out of my experience I say, 'Rock on Lady! Lift up your skirt and fly!' I've had a lot of fun and I want to continue to rock this human experience.

Do you feel like a role model?
I don't feel like one -- I know that I am one and I acknowledge that and I appreciate that and I love it. But I don't do things because they will inspire people. I do things because I feel inspired.

You've had hit singles, you've had your own talk show, you've traveled the world, now you have your own reality competition, you were on Walker, Texas Ranger --
Which was of course the pinnacle of my success --

Of course. So what else is left on your list of things you want to accomplish?
I'm going to your house to Rock. Your. World. [Laughs] I'm a creative person, there are lots of things I might do: I haven't come out with my own line of clothes, I haven't produced anyone else's music, I haven't put together a girl group, I haven't designed a car. There's still lots for me to do. But first up is really bringing along some of the other girls from the show to be stars. No one has come for my crown and I wish someone would. I wish there were more [drag queens] because it would make it more interesting for me. So first up is finding America's next drag queen superstar.

RuPaul's Drag Race premieres on LOGO on February 2 at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

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