RuPaul Andre Charles was born on November 17, 1960, and became best known as RuPaul. His mom, a Louisiana native, named him Ru after “roux”, an ingredient found in southern gumbo. When he was born his mother declared that he would be a star because of his original name.
RuPaul’s early years were spent in San Diego, California. He had older twin sisters who played with him like he was a doll. When he was six months old (and his sister was seven) one of the twins gave him a bath and accidently broke his arm. His sister Renatta told him that he would prance around the front yard in her pink dress. He claims to not remember the dress but does remember singing “The Supremes” hit song “Baby Love” around the house. At this early age the neighborhood kids already had labeled him a sissy.
His parents had a messy divorce. His mom self medicated and secluded herself in her bedroom and the kids were forced to take care of themselves and their mother. The family went on welfare and the kids did their best to keep their problems secret from any authorities that might threaten the family.
In RuPaul’s auto biography, he claims that no matter how hard his two older sisters tried to get rid of him he would follow them everywhere. He spent a lot of time with them and their friends down the street listening to records and talking about boys. By the time he was 10 people were already mistaking him for a girl.
RuPaul’s education was not very successful. He was kicked out of High School for not attending class. He moved in with his sister and brother in law and moved to Atlanta where he enrolled in a performing arts high school. He started out in music, but soon changed to drama. Even though he loved his drama class, he still ended up dropping out of school due to poor grades in all of his other classes. After dropping out of school he became, of all things, a car salesman.
It is hard to believe that this is the humble beginnings of the exotic actor, drag queen, model, author and singer that we all know as RuPaul. And while he has performed as a man in several roles, he is known more for his drag queen roles and indifference to gender specifics. He broke many stereotypical records, including the first drag queen supermodel when he signed a contract with MAC cosmetics. He was on many billboards as the new MAC girl not caring if he is called “he” or “she”.
RuPaul has had hosted his own talk show, released several albums, and appeared in movies and on tv. His list of credits is still growing and evolving, although it still seems centered and focused on the gay community.