RuPaul grew up in San Diego, learning fashion tips from his mother and three sisters. After some time living in Atlanta doing odd jobs such as a used-car salesman, RuPaul moved to New York by the early ’90s. He had begun performing in local Manhattan clubs and became a popular attraction through his various flamboyant acts on stage. After battling drug addiction and living in poverty Rupaul was given a record contract by the famous duo Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, with the hip-hop label Tommy Boy Records. His debut album, “Supermodel of the World”, was released in 1993, but it failed on the Billboard Charts until the following year, when the success of the single “Supermodel (You Better Work)” a tribute to the divas of the fashion world placed in the top 30 on the Pop Charts. The music video for “Supermodel” was nominated for Best Dance Video at the 1994 MTV video music awards. In 1992 he met Mathu his make-up artist and Zaldy his costume designer, the two studied every inch of his body and went on to create some of Rupaul’s most famous costumes and build what he calls the “Glamazon Look”. The success of “Supermodel” had Rupaul performing at a Gay rights rally in Washington D.C., on the same spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1994, RuPaul recorded a duet with Elton John, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” which charted on the American charts but proved more successful in Europe, where the two co-hosted England’s Brit Awards and RuPaul taped a popular Christmas special. In 1995 Rupaul launched his autobiography entitled “Lettin It All Hang Out” which has since been out of print and has sold 450,739 copies on Amazon.com alone. He also appeared in two films, The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), and Spike Lee’s Crooklyn (1995). The media exposure gained Rupaul his own show for VH1. The RuPaul Show which mixed a talk show and a variety show, featured Rupaul performing all kinds of stunts from doing comedic sketches, program specials such as The Rupaul Porn Star Show and the Disco salute and sometimes ends with Rupaul collaborating in a duet with guest stars. The show sadly ended in 1998 after three seasons when ratings began to falter. That same year he became a spokesperson for M.A.C. Cosmetics, billing him as “The First Face of M.A.C.” Over the course of six years, he launched store openings in ten countries and helped raise over $22 million for the M.A.C AIDS fund.
A Christmas album titled “Ho, Ho, Ho,” was released in 1997. After moving to Rhino Records for his third album Foxy Lady, RuPaul made some noise in the clubs once again with the supermodel sister single “Snapshot” and the moving self-inspired “A Little Bit Of Love”. At the same time Rupaul was also doing films appearing in movies such as the all-star drag queen comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), the made for TV movies A Mothers Prayer (1995) with Linda Hamilton and An Unexpected Life with Stockard Channing (1998), the lifetime TV drama The Truth About Jane (2000), But I’m a Cheerleader (1999), and the Inde film Who Is Cletis Tout? (2001) with Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Allen, and Christian Slater. In 1999 Rupaul received the Vito Russo Entertainer of The year at The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) media awards for challenging the limits and breaking boundaries in becoming an openly gay individual who has achieved excellence in the field of Entertainment and furthering his visibility and understanding of the community through his work. In 2002 Rupaul was honored by The Most Beautiful Transsexuals In The World Association, commending him for his outreach support on the Gay and Lesbian community with their Lifetime Achievement Award honoring his over 10 year conquest and establishing fashion and glamor in the entertainment industry.
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