Many drag queens and queer folks know how important their chosen family is because their biological families aren’t always the most accepting of their true selves. RuPaul has shared that he is very lucky to have the support of his mother and sisters. RuPaul’s family has always been there for him despite some dark personal times.
RuPaul’s sisters and cousins would attend many of his talk show interviews in the early 90s when he made it big. Also, RuPaul shared in one interview that he even performed in drag at his family’s 1992 reunion. RuPaul also eventually forged a relationship of sorts with his dad, although we’ll probably never know the true extent of how Ru felt about their relationship.
“If You Can’t Love Yourself…”
Many RuPaul-isms have become part of our everyday vocabulary thanks to the prevalence of his show, “Drag Race.” However, many of Ru’s catchphrases started off way before the second resurgence of his career. For example, his famous line, “If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” wasn’t written by fancy Hollywood producers.
RuPaul has been saying a version of that line since the late 80s or early 90s. He coined the line during a stint performing at Love Machine, an underground club in New York City spearheaded by Club Kid Larry Tee. The “love yourself” line carried on throughout Ru’s career. Fans can even hear him reiterate a version of it during his famous 1993 interview with Arsenio Hall.
Love Shack, Baby
As RuPaul moved up in his career as a drag performer, he starred in a music video for a little band called The B-52s. The B-52s originally met RuPaul in New York City and asked Ru to make a cameo appearance in their 1989 music video for the smash hit “Love Shack.” This was a big deal for RuPaul’s career.
According to B-52’s frontman Fred Schneider, RuPaul was already rocking “his star look” as a queen. You can see RuPaul rocking a gorgeous two-piece matching set, bustier, and matching headband in the music video. This mainstream debut would mark the beginning of a decades-long friendship between RuPaul and The B-52s.
All of RuPaul’s hard work finally paid off in 1993. He released “Supermodel of the World” (1993), which instantly became a hit dance album. The shining star off the record was his famous track “Supermodel (You Better Work).” It was such a success that it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance Music chart at the time.
To this day, “Supermodel” is one of RuPaul’s biggest hits. Queens all over the world have remixed, paid homage to, and performed their routines to this song. The line, “You better work,” has even been a trending sound on TikTok. In addition, as any “Drag Race” fan knows, the song’s “sashay, shantay” line has become a signature of RuPaul’s drag career.
The LGBT March on Washington
As RuPaul’s career became mainstream, he continued advocating for his queer brothers and sisters. RuPaul performed “Supermodel (You Better Work)” at the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. The march took place on April 25, 1993, and demanded things like funding for AIDS research and legislation protecting the civil rights of the queer community.
The performance, which was broadcast live on C-SPAN, shows RuPaul strutting onto the stage in an updated Uncle Sam costume. Ru embodies the lyrics of the song with confidence and glee, showing how much of a seasoned performer he was even at the beginning of his drag career.