Drag Race fan favorites share moving memories of RuPaul: ‘We were being seen’ – EW.com

 In Entertainment

Del Rio: “Oh, she is? No, I’m kidding. My response has to be #fakenews. I’m kidding! Because I think that Ru definitely is, because Ru is a hard-working bitch and hasn’t given up. I’ve witnessed the ups and downs of my own career, which Ru has had in his, but he’s always come out on top. Look at the success of the show; look at the success of drag in general. He’s got a huge hand in that and has been a huge part of that. He’s a responsible, kind person who gets it, who’s funny as hell, and I think that he’s very deserving of it, because he represents us very well. I was also told if I say anything bad, I won’t get paid again.”

Monsoon: “You can recognize her in an instant, but she has also continued to adapt and shift as drag has continued to adapt and shift, so she’s still the top drag queen, and I don’t think anyone is rivaling her for that position right now. Even the most successful [Drag Race] winners are still not RuPaul. She’s a mature queen; she’s had a long, fruitful career. I think she wants drag to continue to explode, because as it does, it makes it better for all of us. If one drag queen penetrates the mainstream and opens up a new avenue for us to take with our careers, that means all of us can potentially do that.”

Michaels: “You hear a lot of people out there today giving advice, but I think RuPaul doesn’t say things lightly, and I think RuPaul has a good grasp on reality. His keynote speech this year at DragCon was, for me, powerful… his message the whole time from the beginning has been it’s all up to you and anything is possible, so stop sitting around and waiting for it to happen. He continues to bring an important, positive message to anyone who’s willing to listen. If you come to him, you get acceptance and love, and that’s something that’s shorthanded today but important that he’s providing to our culture.”

Michaels: “It’s groundbreaking and awesome and everything it needed to be for the time. It was an introduction to RuPaul and an introduction to glamor and all of those wonderful things that, again, rekindled that flame of drag. There were so many touchstones before RuPaul… but he was becoming the new touchstone of drag at that time, so it was cool to connect those dots.”

Monsoon: “I started doing drag at age 15, and there was an all-ages gay dance club that I worked at, but I also lied about my age and performed at a lot of bars, so it’s just one of those things where it’s engrained in me. RuPaul’s music, especially that album, is internalized. Now I can hear the first two seconds of the song and I’m just flooded with sense memory and unconscious memory of every time I’ve ever heard that song. It’s one of those things where it’s like, there are certain songs where once you’ve seen drag queens perform a song so many times, it’s almost like you become numb to it. Now, I don’t even register when I’m hearing the song because it’s so internalized for me.”

Del Rio: “I think it was a huge reflection on what was going on at the time. It was a great song and it was extremely catchy at the time when everything was about visuals on MTV. You were nobody if you didn’t have a video, and it was the height of the supermodel era. Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell were the s—! The timing was magical, and it was sung by this 8-foot tall blonde glamazon. You could enjoy the song without knowing it was a gay man or a drag queen. I don’t think it pushed people away… but it shifted things and [bridged the gap between gay and straight].”

Michaels: “It was funny and again, there’s RuPaul not taking any s—. No matter who it is. Even Uncle Miltie who, obviously at that time was much older, but a very treasured part of Hollywood and respected by everybody, a living legend, and there’s RuPaul going, ‘Uh uh, you’re not talking to me like that. In front of God, and everybody…’ That was amazing. I get that Uncle Miltie was probably a little uptight. He was probably also a little insecure, but, you know, it set a precedent for [drag queens saying] you can’t talk to us like that. That’s still going on today.”

Del Rio: “It was genius. I’m a comedian and I look at life as everything is funny and nothing is off limits, and here’s Milton Berle who’s made a career out of making fun of people throughout his life, and I think it took him by surprise. I thought, ‘You know what? He’s up there with a drag queen. He’s playing with fire. And I do believe the setup was kind of nasty from his perspective, and I guess he didn’t expect Ru to lash out, but I thought, ‘F— it. Do it. Why not? You shouldn’t hold your tongue!’ If someone has been a comedian for 50, 60 years at that point, you should be able to get a joke.

Del Rio: “She was all spelled out in red patent leather! It was amazing. I didn’t even buy MAC makeup, but I wanted the red lipstick because Ru was wearing it… Now, I’ve put it in perspective. I realize what MAC was doing for the [MAC AIDS Fund] … it all makes sense now. The stuff he was doing was unbelievable for that time because nobody else was doing it, and to know he’s on top of his game now is just fascinating. To look back on it, I don’t think people realize that at that time, no one was doing it, much less for a good cause. Unbelievable.”

Monsoon: “It’s not at all accurate… I mean, no drag queen would want to sit in her corset and full costume in a car for however many hours… I thought it was sensational and important that, if you’re going to have three straight men play drag queens – and I think all three of them did great jobs – to [have] RuPaul in [the scene with the] Confederate flag dress. It was like saying, ‘Yeah, these three straight, famous actors are now playing drag queens, but they still have to bow down to RuPaul.’ Because every other drag queen on screen literally bows down to RuPaul [in that scene]. That was the clear-cut moment when we realized, of all the drag queens in the world, there is one queen to rule them all.”

Del Rio: “I was a huge fan of the show because it was very much reminiscent of The Sonny & Cher Show, and I wasn’t necessarily old enough to watch the show when it aired, but VH1 was airing classic Cher shows, which was genius because there was [The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour], and then there was the Cher show, and then Sonny had his own show, and then Sonny and Cher got back together… and then Ru was doing basically the same format, which was really 20 or 25 years later. It was brilliant. When you have Diana Ross on your show, when you have actual Cher on your show, that’s a big f—ing deal. I remember watching it and loving everything about it. He looked amazing and it was just fun. Now I look back and here was this major corporation saying yes to a drag queen and [I was] unconsciously realizing if this can happen, anything’s possible in the future.”

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