Check out the complete oral history of RuPaul—and revisit 25 years’ worth of game-changing LGBTQ movies, TV, and music—in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
The cover star of EW’s LGBTQ issue has seen his share of shockers over the years on his beloved series RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has been adding glitz to the reality genre for a whopping nine seasons (or 11, if you count All Stars, which, really, you should).
Along the way, core fans could pinpoint all the moments when the show transcended the runway and became something to truly debrief at the water cooler — and RuPaul himself is included in that bunch. In the video above, the Emmy-winning icon goes through what he deems the three most shocking moments that have emerged on Drag Race.
Two of them are surprising revelations. One is the exact opposite of a revelation. All of them, Ru says, are wholly important to the fabric of what makes the show unlike anything else on TV.
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“What I learned in the first two seasons of doing this show is that the show has to be anchored in my love of these outrageously beautiful and courageous characters, and that my compassion for them is what the show is about,” RuPaul told EW in our oral history. “We choose the girls during the audition, I fall in love with them, I know what their potential is, and through the course of filming, my wish is for them to reach that potential. I learned that and I do that to this day. I learned that all this hinges on how open my heart is to them.”
Yes, the series has certainly indulged in the fun of reality TV — and the queens are, as Ru says, nothing short of outrageous — but what viewers tend to forget is that the series first began as an ode to RuPaul’s career and the obstacles he overcame to develop the persona audiences now identify as the world’s most famous drag queen.
“From day one, the challenges were put together from things that I’ve already done in my career,” he points out. “That’s what the show is based on. So, when the girls came to me, I knew then I was Mama Ru and that my intentions for them are pure, because they are my kids and I see this as an opportunity for me to nurture and nourish myself, because they are me.”