a-VF0120-RuPaul-tout.jpg


What about politics? During this heated, horrible time, surely something in that realm must be impossible to rise above. Not so, it seems. “I have to be careful about politics and religion and all those things that get people angry at you. When I take two steps back, and I realize what’s really going on, it’s not really even about [particular] issues. It’s about unconsciousness and people’s inability to see themselves from outside themselves.”

Over the course of our conversation, if things ever start getting perhaps too prickly or too personal, RuPaul catches himself and shifts into broader philosophizing, ruminating on the nature of all of our beings rather than specifically his own. He repeats charming anecdotes I’ve read and heard in other interviews. He returns frequently to The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz, tales of altered, faux-reality that are touchstones of his world view. He often evokes the “sweet, sensitive souls” of the world, including himself, the artists and freethinkers more attuned to the pain—and beauty—of the human experience. He’s fascinating to listen to, soulful, and almost sorrowful with a hard-won wisdom.

He also likes to evoke the novels of Anne Rice, the movie Poltergeist, zombie films that speak to the dead-minded way so many shuffle through life. RuPaul manages to find positive, or at least instructive, messages in these dark things. He seems to interpret just about everything that way, the world a vast, arrayed grid of neutral-to-benevolent signs and symbols and clues meant to help the keyed-in along their path. He talks about listening to the universe’s stage directions, about following those. It’s hard not to feel like a lesser, baser creature in his presence. But RuPaul is careful to break up that new age talk with sassy jokes and asides, turning on a bit of the Monster voice to leaven the mood in the room. Such has been his accommodating work throughout his career as a Prometheus bringing gay fire—in all its pride and innuendo—to the masses.

Shortly after we spoke, RuPaul left for a three-week European vacation with his husband, Georges LeBar, a Wyoming rancher (yes, really), whom RuPaul met while partying at the long-gone Chelsea nightclub Limelight, a quarter-century ago. The couple maintains a guarded privacy—indeed, many of the people I spoke to for this piece brought up how private RuPaul is. He does offer, at least, the cheery tidbits that, when traveling, the pair likes to see shows and go shopping, and to stay at posh hotels—happily, and finally, enjoying the fruits of all their perspiration. They recently bought a lavish Beverly Hills mansion, for a reported $13.7 million. They also like to take helicopter rides wherever they go, something to consider the next time you’re flirting in Paris or gasping at the Grand Canyon and hear a chopper whirring overhead. It could be RuPaul, looking down upon our planet with that forever-assessing gaze of his.

After all the work of unpacking and analyzing his reality, RuPaul still isn’t sure that what he’s seeing is, well, real. He’s a fan of the late British philosopher Alan Watts, who ran thought experiments imagining existence as a series of dreams, each different than the last—thoroughly lived reveries that could be controllable, lucid in a way, if you could just figure out how. “You could design for yourself what would be the most ecstatic life,” Watts suggested in one lecture. “Love affairs, banquets, dancing girls. Wonderful journeys. Gardens. Music beyond belief.” That notion, for perhaps obvious reasons, speaks profoundly to RuPaul. “We are doing these random dream things,” he says with excitement, there in the dim little bungalow in Burbank, so much busy activity happening outside its walls, some of it of RuPaul’s own making. “This time I’m this gay, black man, an American, who chooses to do drag and to make it a household craze, whatever it is, [a] phenomenon. And I’m digging it. It’s fun,” he says.

If life is but a series of enterable and escapable dreams, I wonder which one RuPaul would like to have next. He looks toward the ceiling and sighs, a conscious icon considering future consciousnesses.

“I don’t know,” he says quietly. “I’d want it to be interesting.”


Throughout: hair products by Oribe; makeup products by Kevyn Aucoin. HAIR AND WIG DESIGNER, CURTIS WILLIAM FOREMAN; MAKEUP BY DAVID PETRUSCHIN; TAILOR, CLAY G. SADLER; SET DESIGN BY MARY HOWARD STUDIO; PRODUCED ON LOCATION BY PORTFOLIO ONE. PHOTOGRAPHS, THIS PAGE, BY BETH DUBBER/NETFLIX. FOR DETAILS, GO TO VF.COM/CREDITS



Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply