I was talking to my editors in The Times Magazine about the program, and RuPaul, for a year. But once it moved to VH1, the conversation became more serious: about the cultural relevance of drag, and RuPaul, and if it was something we should write about in the magazine.
I felt as if the show was expanding to reflect the growing nuances within the homosexual community and challenging the notion that there is only one representative community at all. And a lot of that is due to RuPaul, who always wants to be part of the conversation, and facilitate it, and promote it in the spirit of resistance, which Ru sees as challenging norms and making room for people to be themselves, whatever that is it means to them.
I've been in The Times for about nine years and I can honestly say that my article on "Drag Race," which appears on the cover of this Sunday's magazine, was the most fun I've ever worked on in a story . To prepare myself, I spent hours on YouTube, watching old videos of RuPaul Charles and shots of "Untucked: Lounge," the behind-the-scenes interviews the show loads between episodes. I found the best and strangest nest of online videos: a series of animated "Drag Race" competitions made with the game software "The Sims".
I also spent hours on the set of "Drag Race". In person, RuPaul is warm, fun, nice, someone who enjoys life thoroughly. One morning on set, the cast and crew were served with maple bacon. Although I am sure that RuPaul had heard about maple bacon before, he was so delighted and touched by it that he mentioned it constantly throughout the day, asking people if they had tasted it and if they liked it. The next time we met, he reminded me that he loved couples and unusual collaborations: "like maple bacon."
I also got into the archives of RuPaul Charles. It felt important to write about Ru's influence on our current cultural climate and attitudes, which began the moment he first appeared when he was a teenager in Atlanta, where he made music videos and rode around the city in wild attire with the big hair We have a huge cultural debt with RuPaul, and I came to feel like a national treasure.
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