A GoPride Interview

RuPaul Charles

Revved up: Rupaul on Drag Race and Skin Wars

Wed. September 24, 2014  by Jerry Nunn

I've been doing this for a long, long time. To be involved with things that I enjoy doing, I couldn't ask for more.
RuPaul Charles
RuPaul Charles broke out of the Atlanta underground scene with a hit single "Supermodel (You Better Work) and has not looked back since.

In 2009, RuPaul's Drag Race took over Logo as the competition show set out to find America's next drag superstar. The seventh season was just completed this summer.

Ru began a new endeavor recently as a judge the Game Show Network's Skin Wars hosted by Rebecca Romjin. The show competition show dedicated to body art painting is a first for television. Craig Tracy and Robin Slonina are fellow judges with RuPaul on the panel.

Jerry Nunn rang Ru for a quick chat about the painted project.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, RuPaul! How did you get on Skin Wars in the first place?

RA: (RuPaul Charles) Well, I love artists and anything that is creative. They asked me to do and I thought, "Absolutely!" It is so much fun and I love the creative process. This show has it in spades.

WCT: It is nice to relax and let Rebecca take the wheel as host?

RC: Yeah, it is great because obviously I don't do it in drag. Basically I get to show up, watch these artists do their magic then just judge it. Rebecca does all the heavy lifting!

JN: On the episode with two friends competing you had to scold them about how a competition works.

RC: Sometimes people need to be reminded that this is a competition reality show. They came here for a specific reason, to compete. A new generation of parents make the world baby safe for their kids about right and wrong. There's a balancing act in the universe if you take one thing out then that means that something else will go crazy.

A friend of mine has a kid in little league. If someone strikes out then they allow them to still run to all of the bases. That means the competition is gone! It is because the parents don't want to experience the child's disappointment. That is a pervasive storyline in today's culture.

I had to set them straight and go, "You know what, bitch, you came here for a reason so you better get to it!"

JN: They always complain about not having enough time but everyone gets the same amount of time.

RC: Right, exactly.

JN: I think contestant Nicole Hays looks like Holly Madison.

RC: She really does. I thought that too.

JN: Suddenly she came out as a lesbian in a recent episode.

RC: [laughs] Well you know us lesbians, we are everywhere!

JN: I would have interviewed her a while ago for the gay newspaper if I had known.

RC: Right...

JN: I did get to speak with Carson Kressley about being a guest judge on there.

RC: He is just a dream. I love that man. We didn't know each other before this but I had seen him in New York walking around the other side of the street but I didn't know him until that show.

JN: I asked him about being a guest judge on Drag Race so that's an idea for you. I was with a finalist from Drag Race Adore Delano last night and she wanted me to tell you thanks for the opportunity to be on your show.

RC: Adore is amazing. Her album is still on the charts. I am so proud of her.

JN: Tyra Banks said publicly that if you asked her to be a guest judge on Drag Race she would do it. Is that something you have thought about?

RC: We ask everyone to be a guest judge for that show. There's needs to be a reality show about trying to book people for television shows. The public has no idea what a scheduling nightmare it is. We ask everybody. Everybody gets asked. Now on Twitter people suggest people like Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. If they have an in to get them on the show then we are all for it!

The truth is there is not one person on the planet who has not been asked to be a judge on our show, not one!

JN: How does it feel to have another season wrapped of Drag Race?

RC: I am just so lucky, blessed, and grateful to have a job. I've been doing this for a long, long time. To be involved with things that I enjoy doing, I couldn't ask for more.

Skin Wars is a dream come true. It is so much fun and I love Rebecca Romjin so much. We have a blast on there. The other judges are actually fantastic. The kids, the creativity, and producers are just wonderful. I couldn't ask for anything better honestly.

JN: Do you have appearances in more shows coming up?

RC: I am always hustlin'. I like to work. I learned from Joan Rivers that a strong work ethic is so important. I took a cue from her book. I think people know that about me too. I learned early to do as much as you can. It really does keep you sane.

JN: Joan said never turn down a project.

RC: I love the name of that Lee Grant book I Said Yes To Everything [laughs]!

JN: I have to read that. I am not familiar with her.

RC: She's an Academy Award winning actress and you know her from the movie Shampoo.

JN: When are you coming back to visit Chicago?

RC: I love Chicago. Because of the television work I haven't toured as much as I used to. I used to go to Chicago at least twice a year but I haven't been doing that lately. I don't know when I will be back. I keep threatening to do a tour with my music.

JN: Your buddy Michelle Visage has been coming through her a lot with the contestants from Drag Race.

RC: Her in-laws are in the Chicago area so she has extra incentive.

JN: Drag Race is more popular than ever. When I was in Canada the fans were crazy about Drag Race and mobbed the finalists from the show.

RC: That's awesome and so good to hear.

JN: When are you making another book?

RC: I would love to do another book. I'm very busy so I don't know. I have other projects with a new album and a new cast album for season seven that I was just working on this past week. I just have to delegate the time. It is not that easy.

JN: You have turned into the Oprah Winfrey of drag. Congrats on bringing a whole new generation of drag queens into the spotlight.

RC: I appreciate that. I really do. You know I took some time away from it in the early 2000s. To come back and have this success is even more beautiful and amazing.

JN: You've met so many stars over the years that you admired when you were younger. Is there one that stood out?

RC: For obvious reasons Cher, Diane Ross, and David Bowie were the ones for me. They were the ones that I grew up with pictures of them on my wall. To meet them was the cat's pajamas!

JN: David Bowie has his official day in Chicago on September 23.

RC: Wow. My favorite Bowie song is "Never Let Me Down" and of course I love the Let's Dance album. I love the Station to Station album too and saw that tour in 1976. It totally changed my life.

JN: The official day is highlighting the new David Bowie Is exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

RC: Then I may be coming to Chicago sooner than you think!

The war is over on September 24 for Skin Wars on the Game Show Network. RuPaul's Drag Race starts its engines for a new season soon on Logo.

Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.