No one is going to get RuPaul Charles to do something he doesn’t want to do, not even Vogue Magazine. In a scene from a profile of the world’s most famous drag queen in Vogue, writer Abby Aguirre made that clear.
While shooting Ru in Queen Elizabeth I regalia (the red dreadlocks were certainly an interpretation) photographer Annie Leibovitz asks Ru to remove his headpiece.
“It becomes something else without the piece,” Ru tells Leibovitz as a refusal. “The piece sells everything else.” The piece stayed. And rightfully so.
Though Charles was robbed of the May Vogue cover he so rightfully deserved — love Kim Kardashian West, but Ru is camp — Aguirre still gives him the cover star treatment in her profile. She traces his childhood where he learned to walk a runway from his sister Renetta who went to the Barbizon School of Modeling, and looked to Ziggy Stardust as a compass, writing “Bowie” on everything with a magic marker. Then there were New York drag beginnings.
Apparently Ru saw his first drag performance in 1979. It was Crystal LaBeija singing Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls.” And quite a clashing of names. While it wasn’t mentioned in the piece, LaBeija is quite a legend herself; she made a scene in 1967 when she stormed out of the Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest, then as the reigning Miss Manhattan when she was awarded third runner-up. She labeled the competition as racist, and in a blistering read captured for the 1968 documentary The Queen but preserved on YouTube, accused the organizer Miss Flawless Sabrina of rigging it all. She would later go on to found the House of LaBeija, the first House of the ballroom scene, which would have still been in its infancy when Ru ran into Crystal. Legends meeting up and coming legends. In 1989, Ru would follow in Crystal’s footsteps to become Miss Manhattan, also known as Queen of Manhattan.
And while Aguirre hits the high points (“Supermodel” for the first bout of national fame, and then well … everything RuPaul’s Drag Race-related for the second) she provides a glimpse of what we should expect from Ru’s upcoming Netflix show AJ and the Queen.
“There are love scenes, for one thing, but also the kind of drag numbers that will require ‘performancewear’ — for, say, flying through the air on a harness.” she writes. Ru? Love scenes? Well maybe he only likes sex when it’s acting!
And performance numbers? I would like to see it.
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