RuPaul’s career is so prolific that he’s out here still breaking records in the 21st century. On February 8, 2020, RuPaul became the first ever drag queen to host “Saturday Night Live.” He did his monologue out of drag, opening with the line, “This is fun, right? My name is Ru, which is short for ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race!’”
The episode was a hilarious, accessible way to introduce millions of Americans, perhaps for the first time, to aspects of queer culture during a politically and socially fraught time. “The Library” is one of the stand-out skits of the episode. RuPaul shows up at a library storytime to teach everyone about “reading,” which is the art of insult and wordplay in drag culture.
“The Queen” of Netflix… Kind Of
In 2020, RuPaul decided to branch out from his “Drag Race” hosting duties by starring in an original Netflix series. The show, called “AJ and the Queen,” starred RuPaul as Ruby Red, a down-on-her-luck drag queen who is touring the US to recoup her lost life savings. Ruby Red becomes buddies with AJ, a preteen orphan she finds secretly stowed away in her old van.
The comedy series got mixed reviews from critics and viewers. While many fans loved the show, it wasn’t enough to convince Netflix to renew the show for a second season. Not everything RuPaul touches turns to gold, and that’s okay. Despite the show being around for only one season, RuPaul tweeted that he loved working on it.
The Fracking Controversy
Environmentalists and some fans were shocked when RuPaul shared more details about his husband’s 60,000-acre ranch in Wyoming. During a 2020 interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” program, RuPaul explained that he and his husband don’t do any actual farming on their property. Instead, they lease it out for grazing. Oh, and they just happen to sell water and lease out mineral rights to oil companies.
Yup, RuPaul implied that he is involved in the fracking business. While environmentally-conscious fans were concerned, Ru and Georges’ fellow Wyomingites were not shocked. Apparently, ranch owners in the area are kind of forced into leasing their land to oil companies due to complicated mineral rights laws. RuPaul may not spend a lot of time on the ranch, but he’s definitely profiting.
RuPaul’s Drag Confession
Shortly after hosting “Saturday Night Live,” RuPaul was a guest on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.” While sitting in the interviewee's chair, he made a confession. He revealed that he hadn’t really had fun doing drag for decades. According to him, drag stopped being fun once he became famous.
He intentionally changed his drag persona early on because he knew that’s what it would take to become famous. “I knew that if I was going to do drag and make it above 14th Street, so to speak, I had to calculate the image,” he shared with Seth. “What I did was I had one part Dolly Parton to two parts Cher, one part David Bowie, and a big heaping spoonful of Diana Ross. Then I took the subversive sexuality out of my persona so Betty and Joe Beercan could invite me into their living room.”
Changing a Signature Catchphrase
As we know, RuPaul has been criticized for his lack of understanding and sensitivity when it comes to the transgender community. Some people have reservations about the earnestness of RuPaul’s attempts at better allyship. However, he’s made small changes to “Drag Race” throughout the years that show he’s trying.
For example, the premiere of season 13 in 2021 revealed that RuPaul no longer used the catchphrase, “Gentleman, start your engines, and may the best woman win.” Instead, the phrasing was changed to “Racers, start your engines, and may the best drag queen win.” This language is more inclusive and gender-neutral, which thrilled fans of the show.