RuPaul Shares the Origin of His Name and Drag Persona

-You married three years
to your husband, George. -Yeah, but we’ve been together
since I think — after the Korean Conflict
we’ve been together. [ Laughter ] I can’t believe you guys know
what the Korean Conflict is. You know, young kids —
I saw the — -By the way, there’s one
happening right now. -There is.
[ Laughter ] Yeah, that’s probably
what they’re thinking. I saw the Backstreet Boys
in the elevator coming up here, and my page —
and I started singing “Show Me the Meaning
of Being Lonely,” and the page I was with, he had
no idea what that song was. And I was like,
“That is Max Martin, one of the greatest pop songs
of all time.” ♪ Show me the meaning
of being lonely ♪ -There we go. We did
a little bit better here. -Yes, yes. Oh, my goodness.
Anyway, Korean Conflict, yeah! [ Laughter ] -Where did you meet? Because this is, again,
pre-apps, pre-Internet. -I met George at the Limelight
Disco right down the street, on the dance floor.
[ Cheers and applause ] -There you go.
-Yeah. I met him on his birthday
in 1994. And we have been
dancing ever since. -That’s wonderful.
-Yes. [ Audience aws ] Not just dancing —
[ Applause ] He has a ranch in Wyoming. -Yes.
-You also hit the ranch. And just a reminder
that you can really — you can fit in anywhere,
you look very ranchy here. [ Laughter ] I mean, that is very ranch. -Trust me. I am the only one
in probably a 50-mile radius wearing westernwear in Wyoming. -Yeah.
-You know, it’s true. I took the opportunity to put —
because I love clothes. I love all that stuff.
-Of course. -And this is, like,
my westernwear drag. But no one else in Wyoming
is wearing these clothes. -That’s really funny.
-No one else. No. [ Laughter ] -How did you come up
with the persona? Because I imagine when you went
to the world of drag, that’s a big decision
that you live with. Like any name you give yourself. -Yeah, well, listen.
I was telling someone earlier. You know,
I’ve always been ambitious. And I’ve always liked to
look under the hood to see how things actually work. So I knew that
if I was going to do drag and make it to above
14th Street, so to speak, I had to calculate the image. And what I did was add
one part Dolly Parton to two parts Cher,
one part David Bowie, and a big heaping spoonful of
Diana Ross. And then, I took —
And this is scientific. I took the subversive sexuality
out of my persona. So that Betty and Joe Beercan could invite me
into their living room. And you know what? It worked! -It worked.
[ Cheers and applause ] It couldn’t have worked better.
-It worked. It worked. -And what about the name? -RuPaul is my real name. And I tell all the kids, if you
are getting into show business, do not use your real name because it winds up
on all of your public records. Oh, at the gynecology office. Oh, Miss RuPaul?
Is Miss RuPaul here? [ Laughter ] And I’m like, “Oh, my goodness.” It’s my real name.
-Yeah. -My mother named me that. My mother, who’s from — both mother and father
from Louisiana. And the roux in a gumbo,
it’s spelled differently, but the roux is how you —
the base of a gumbo. So she wanted to put her culture
in there. So it’s RuPaul.
-That’s fantastic. She probably had no idea
what a highly marketable name she was giving you.
-Oh, no, she did. -She did?
-She did. When she was pregnant with me,
this is before ultrasound. She went to a psychic who said, “You’re going to have a boy
and he’s going to be famous.” -Really?
-Yep. So I grew up thinking,
how am I gonna get famous? [ Laughter ] “I got to figure this out.” One part Dolly Parton,
two parts — Yeah. [ Laughter ]
-Yeah, yeah. -Yeah.
-I would hope — I hope that psychic,
for the rest — [ Cheers and applause ]
Absolutely. -True story. -That psychic should have had
outside their store, “predicted RuPaul.”
-Yeah. -“Called it when RuPaul
was still in the womb.” -Right, right. -If I dip my toe into drag, what would be a good drag name
for me? If you don’t keep your own name? -Well, you know what happens? Is that when you get into your
drag, the energy that you emit, emote, dictates
what your name is. -Yeah.
-So you never know. And that’s why I see everyone —
boy, girl, everyone should get into drag so you can find out
what that energy is. It’ll surprise you. But, you know,
there’s lots of names. -Yeah. -You know, if you add “Sirlady”
in front of anything, it’s going to be a good name.
-Yeah. -You know, it could be
Sirlady Desktop. -Yeah, oh, I like that.
[ Laughter ] -It’s just really good. -Yes, Sirlady — plus, then, I
could be in drag at the desk, which is great because my legs
do not look good. -That’s right,
and you don’t have to talk. -Yeah, that would be
really nice. -Which would be really good.
-Yeah. Hey, thank you so much.
Congrats again on Saturday. Can’t wait for the new season.
-Thank you. -We really appreciate it.

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