RuPAUL
interview by insane wayne chinsang
illustration by fphatty lamar

ON SATURDAY, JUNE 2ND, RuPAUL WILL BE WORKING HIS/HER STUFF AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN DINNER. MAYBE THEN OUR VERY OWN INSANE WAYNE CHINSANG CAN EXPLAIN TO HIM/HER HOW AN INTERVIEW IS SUPPOSED TO GO.

RuPaul: What city are you in?

wayne: Iím in Columbus.

R: Why are you there?

w: School brought me here with a tricky scholarship. They give you one and then you get here and realize everyone has one. It was more like a coupon than a scholarship.

R: (laughs) But otherwise you wouldnít have an edumacation, right?

w: Exactly.

R: What did you study?

w: I went for photography.

R: Was there one photograph that you saw that made you say, ďI want to become a photographer.Ē Was it the cover of Cherís Take Me Home?

w: It actually was. Itís funny you should mention that.

R: Yeah, I wanted to become a photographer for that very same reason. It is, of course, my favorite album cover of all time. Whatís yours?

w: (pause) I donít even know.

R: It should be a really quick response. You donít have one?

w: No, I really donít.

R: Well, what photographs made you want to become a photographer?

w: I donít know if there was one in particular, but I remember being a child and flipping through Life and seeing photographs of different kinds of people. Thatís what got me interested in it.

R: Yeah, that would do it. How old are you?

w: 25.

R: Oh, youíre just a baby. When is your birthday?

w: September 25, 1976. Iím 24 actually, but I turn 25 this year.

R: Oh, good Lord!

w: When I get into a year I just say that I am the age I am turning that year.

R: Thatís funny because I do the same thing. Iím born late in the year, too. I was born in November of 1960. So I donít really turn 41 until the end of this year. It feels like Iím only going to be 41 for a month-and-a-half. Do you have any questions you want to ask me?

w: If you want to.

R: Oh, I donít give a fuck. Interview, shminterview. Youíre going to write what you want anyway. (laughs) Have you ever been interviewed before, other than me interviewing you right now?

w: No.

R: It is the worst thing in the world. (imitating Katharine Hepburn) It is the worst thing about doing this thing called ďcelebrity,Ē dahling. You think, ďDo I want to try and sound smart or do I want to try and figure out what angle this person that is writing about me is coming from? Do I want to be funny or do I want to be on their level?Ē

w: Well, if you want to be on my level, youíll probably have to come down pretty low.

R: Oh, Iíve been down before, lady. (laughs) Who would play you in the television movie of your life?

w: Phyllis Diller. (laughs)

R: Phyllis Diller! (laughing) Which one of the Friends cast members would play you?

w: Iíve never really watched Friends before.

R: I saw it on the plane last night for the first time. I really hate sitcoms. All sitcoms suck. Except for The Golden Girls, of course.

w: I love Estelle Getty.

R: Who is your favorite fashion photographer?

w: Iíd say Halsman. I wouldnít really call him a fashion photographer because he did portraiture work, too. Heís been dead for a while now, but I always go back to those images. LaChapelle is really fun, too.

R: Are you hot?

w: Who do you think is hot and Iíll tell you if Iím hot.

R: Well, Iím different in that I donít like what others call hot. Like the West Hollywood look with highlighted hair and shaved chest and plucked eyebrows. That doesnít do it for me. I like Matthew Modine and the dad on Married With Children. Ed OíNeill.

w: You think thatís hot? Then Iím gorgeous.

R: I think heís really sexy. With that nose and those thighs. He ainít purdy, but heís fucking sexy.

w: I donít know who I look like. I can tell you that Iím 6í and 200 pounds. Iím white and have blue eyes and curly hair.

R: Is your hair black?

w: No, itís light brown.

R: And your pubes are red?

w: No. Theyíre purple. (laughing) I dye them.

R: Oh. (laughing)

w: After I bleach them.

R: So would you say you look like the Greatest American Hero? William Katt?

w: No.

R: Have you had any plastic surgery at all?

w: None.

R: Yet.

w: (laughing) I donít think Iíll be getting any. I hope not. I look at how my parents have aged, and if I can follow like that, Iíll be just fine.

R: What actor would play your father?

w: Honestly? You. In your press photo-- not the one of you in drag, but the one with the goatee-- you look like my dad.

R: You have a black daddy?

w: No, but you look like my dad if he were black.

R: But youíve never seen me and your dad in the same room at the same time, have you?

w: No.

R: (laughing) Alright, Iíve run you through the mill enough.

w: You can keep going. Iím having more fun doing this than asking stupid fucking questions.

R: I know. I mean, people ask me the same questions all the time.

w: I guarantee I would ask some that youíve never had before. Like our staple question: In your amateur opinion, do you think dogs have lips?

R: Yes.

w: Why?

R: So that they can kiss other dogs. And so that after they sniff another dogís ass, they can kiss it. Iíve seen dogsí lips. Which set of lips are you talking about?

w: Itís open to interpretation.

R: Because I have two sets of lips.

w: Where is your other set?

R: In my backdoor. Wanna kiss Ďem? (laughing)

w: Sure. Or maybe Iíll get my dog to do it. (laughing)

R: (laughing) I just came from my therapist and he says that my sarcasm is what keeps me from having any friends. I use it as a way to isolate myself even more and say to the world, ďFuck you!Ē Are you an isolator?

w: To a certain extent I am. Definitely when it comes to business. I used to be much more open, but as I get older I find that Iím shutting myself off more often.

R: So, have you been to the movies recently?

w: No, but my roommate just went and saw a preview screening of Pearl Harbor today. He said it sucked.

R: Who fucking wants to know about that? Wasnít it enough to pound it into our heads as kids?

w: Itís just like Titanic. They took a tragedy and threw a love story in the mix just so they could get two hours out of it.

R: See, Iím really mad because Iíve got a movie coming out this summer next to that piece of shit. And the names are similar so Iím worried about people getting the two confused.

w: Whatís your film called?

R: Pearl Necklace.

w: (laughing) I like that. Who stars in that with you?

R: Itís me and Matthew Modine. (laughing)

w: And Ed OíNeill? (laughing)

R: Yes, and we answer the question that everyone wants to know: do dogs have lips?

w: Nice. How did you go about it?

R: Oh, the experience was totally creamy. It was just so fulfilling in so many ways. (laughing)

w: (laughing) Weíve got to meet when you come to town.

R: I was actually in Columbus. It was 1993. I performed at some club there. I remember because me and the guy I was traveling with had just gotten Janet Jacksonís new album. I think it was called Janet.

w: Yeah.

R: So you listen to R&B, too?

w: My mother raised me on R&B.

R: Really? What was the first album you remember listening to?

w: Purple Rain.

R: All-fucking-right. Rock on.

w: I ended up seeing Prince a few years ago and it was a total disappointment. He must have been having an off night. He hardly performed.

R: I stopped being crazy about Prince after "Batdance". And then about nine months ago I got the new album and I loved some of the songs on it. So I thought, let me go back and check out all the albums that Iíve missed. Iím a music freak. What music is in your car right now? And donít lie and donít be embarrassed.

w: I was listening to a new album by the Gorillaz. Itís basically Dan the Automator, Miho from Cibo Matto and the lead singer from Blur.

R: Hmm. Why is it that your mom grew up listening to R&B?

w: My mother basically grew up in the ghetto so she was around it.

R: How old is she?

w: Sheís 46.

R: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

w: I have one sister that lives out in San Francisco.

R: Is she a lesbian?

w: No, but sometimes I wish she were. Sheís 20 and sheís already been married and divorced.

R: Thatís good. It puts hair on her chest.

w: She flew to Vegas and got married and then told us four days later.

R: Thatís hot-- If you have no judgements, no right or wrong, and think, ďWeíre spiritual beings having a human experience on this planet.Ē Before we come here we think, ďGod, can you get me a body? I donít care what it is. It could be a one-eyed Filipino hooker that shoots ping-pong balls out of her pussy. It doesnít matter. I want to experience that whole human thing. I want to kill someone. I want to love. I want to laugh. I want to have a lot of babies. I want to get caught stealing. I want to be executed in a guillotine. I want all of those human experiences.Ē But then we come here and have all these judgements with what is ďrightĒ and what is ďwrong.Ē But itís all right. Itís all about the experience. Do you have any tattoos?

w: Yes.

R: Where are they?

w: I just got my first one a couple months ago. Itís on my--

R: Dick?

w: Actually itís on my second dick.

R: You have two, of course. (laughing)

w: Yes. Actually, my tattoo is on my right shoulder.

R: What is it of?

w: Itís the logo of the paper. Itís two eccentric circles.

R: Do you have any more?

w: No, but Iím planning my next one. Itís going to be a wrap around on my other arm. Itís going to be the Electric Mayhem from the Muppets.

R: You mean the whole band is going to be around your arm?

w: Yeah.

R: I live for the Muppets. Are you gay?

w: No.

R: (mocking) No! Iím not gay!

w: I didnít mean it like that at all.

R: Yeah right. It all comes out now. Goodbye! (laughing) Alright, I have a gripe. Straight society is always ripping off gay fucking society. You know, leave something for the faggots, man. Iím not sure which side means what, but a wrap-around tattoo on your bicep indicates that youíre either a top or a bottom. So youíve never parted your beef curtains?

w: No.

R: You mean your Spam castanets never got parted?

w: (laughing) No.

R: You havenít lived! You havenít looked into the eyes of God until the beef curtains have been parted. You know what Iím saying?

w: I know what youíre saying.

R: What are you doing after my show? (laughing)

w: (laughing) Hanging out with you.

R: (laughing) You eat Spam donít you?

w: Yeah. And Iíll bring my dog and his lips.

R: (laughing) Alright. Weíre done talking about that. Can we talk about the Muppets and how much we love them? Did you know that Sammy Davis, Jr., died on the same day as Kermit the Frog? I was so destroyed. I cried and cried. I mean, Sammy was the greatest entertainer to ever live. But Kermit? I canít even listen to Kermit anymore. Thatís not Kermit. Do you have all The Muppet Shows on tape?

w: No.

R: I donít have a favorite because theyíre all good but one of the things I remember most is Diana (Ross) being on there. And Liza was on one when they were trying to solve a murder. Do you know who the murderer was?

w: Who?

R: The two old guys.

w: Statler and Waldorf.

R: Yeah. I love them. I feel like them all the time. I feel like Iím watching the world go by sitting in a booth. Who is your favorite character?

w: Doctor Teeth. The keyboard player from the Electric Mayhem. Heís got that big pimp hat with the feather.

R: (laughing) How great is that? And Frank Oz. What a fucking genius.

w: I interviewed him.

R: I saw that article.

w: It was amazing to be able to talk with him.

R: That is so fucking hot. Well, there you have it. We talked about everything. We didnít get into any felching but we did do rimmings, right?

w: Right.

R: Do you have anything else you want to ask me?

w: Ah, sure. What do you think about George Bushís presidency so far?

R: Wasnít he president years ago?

w: Sorry, I meant W. Bush. The new guy.

R: Thereís a new guy?

w: No. I just wanted to ask you a real question.

R: The most real question you could ask is whoís your favorite Muppet. I love Janice. Janice is so decadent. I love the Muppets for the same reasons I love The Golden Girls; because there was so much subtext to it. Itís just great. Albums Iím listening to right now? I am listening to Lionel Richieís new album, and Iím on a real big Aaliyah kick right now. I canít stand Jennifer Lopez, but my favorite song right now is one of hers. Itís called "Play".

w: Why canít you stand her?

R: I think she is bad energy. I donít like anything about her. But her new video is fucking awesome. And the song is so fucking killer. She didnít write the song, but what makes the song cool is the production. You donít listen to the radio?

w: No.

R: Ah. Your voice is so deep. You sound like a mature man. Youíre a Virgo?

w: Libra.

R: What? September 25 is a Virgo.

w: No, itís Libra.

R: I guess youíre right. Alright, so I listen to music all the time. The only stuff I donít listen to is alternative college stuff.

w: I love listening to old funk, like Parliament.

R: What do you think of Outkast?

w: I havenít heard all of it, but I like what Iíve heard so far. I used to buy lots of music, but Iím really into burning stuff now. Unless the packaging is really fucking awesome.

R: What comes to mind when you think of great packaging?

w: The Fight Club soundtrack is a nicely designed piece, and Rhino released some new Mingus and Coltrane stuff that is designed really well.

R: Rhino always does a really good job. And the whole Fight Club thing-- everything about it, including the movie, was just so fantastic. So what can I leave you with?

w: How about some words of wisdom.

R: Words of wisdom? Ok. What other people think of you is none of your business.

w: Unless?

R: (laughing) Unless theyíre paying you.

w: (laughing) Exactly.

VISIT RuPAUL HERE.