RuPaul Answers Increasingly Personal Questions | Slow Zoom | Vanity Fair

published on July 2, 2020

– They don't teach kids that today

You know, when you give a handshake

you have to look in the
eye, you gotta give it,

oh, what are you doing?


[dramatic music]


– [Crew] RuPaul Answers
Increasingly Personal Questions

as the Camera Moves Closer to His Face

[clapboard snaps]

– And I'm gonna turn my phone off

although no one calls me

Well, no one has my number

– [Crew] Identity

[clapper snaps]

– [Narrator] What are you afraid of?

– Ignorant people, it's the
only thing I'm afraid of

Ignorant people

Especially ignorant people
who think they're smart,

that's the scariest thing on earth

– [Narrator] Where do
you go to find peace?

– I usually go to Aretha Franklin Canyon,

it's right here in Beverly Hills

and most people in LA
don't even know it exists

I don't think Aretha Franklins
knows, knew it exists

In fact, it's actually not
called Aretha Franklin,

but I call it Aretha Franklin Canyon,

it's called Franklin Canyon,

but because I called it
Aretha Franklin Canyon

you'll never forget

– [Narrator] What's the
biggest difference between

your drag style when you first started out

compared to now

– Well the biggest difference between

my drag style back then
from what it is today

is about


– [Narrator] How did you develop
your present drag persona?

– My present drag persona was developed

out of my study of pop culture

and how to create a caricature

that someone could draw on
a page and be recognizable

I took two parts Cher,
three parts Diana Ross,

a dash of Dolly Parton

and a little bit of David
Bowie and James Brown,

put them all together

Oh, and a smathering of Bugs Bunny,

and that's how my persona,

my public persona, came to be

– [Narrator] What advice would you give

to someone who feels alone?

– Advice I'd give to someone
who feels alone is that,

first of all feelings are not facts

You know, what you feel is an indicator,

but a lot of times it's
not really the truth

Because the truth is we are
not separate from one another

We are actually one
thing, we are one thing

We are one thing

But from, your perception
is, makes you think,

and your ego makes you think,

that we're two different things,

that you're over there and I'm over here,

but the truth is

we are actually one thing together

– [Narrator] When do you
feel most like an outsider?

– I feel most like an
outsider every day of my life

I've come to peace with
feeling like an outsider

I know it's a condition of my brain

It's not necessarily the truth

because actually everybody
feels like an outsider,

everybody feels that way


And you want me to take my
clothes off for this one?

– [Crew] Family

– [Narrator] How's your husband?

– I haven't had any complaints

– [Narrator] How did you two meet?

– I met George on the dance floor

at Limelight discotheque in 1994

They actually stunted his
growth when he was 12 years old

He was 6'8'' at 12 years old

When I saw him out on the dance floor

at Limelight disco in New York City

he was wearing platform
shoes about that tall

and dancing like a maniac

So I had to go over to
him and say, who are you?

What are you?

What are you doing?

And I said, can I hug you?

Can I put my arms around you?

'Cause I'd never, I'm tall,
I've never been able to

put my arms around someone's shoulders

who was taller than me

So, yeah, that was 1994

– [Narrator] Why did you two
decide on an open marriage?

– We didn't decide, that's what, [laughs]

You know, the hope is that

monogamy is actually something that

can actually happen

You know, I wouldn't want to put

restraints on the person I
love the most on this planet

I wouldn't do that to someone I love,

my very best friend

Listen, if you get something happening

that you cannot resist

and that's gonna make
you happy, go for it

Go for it

Because the truth is

I know in my heart of hearts,

like, I've never known anything before,

that man loves me more than
anything else in this world

– [Narrator] You once when on

a noteworthy picnic with
your sister, is that right?

– My sister Renetta,
who is my soul sister,

she's a twin, both of
them are soul sisters

But Renetta put some
cookies in a brown paper bag

and took a blanket out to the backyard

and she laid it out

We ate the cookies and she said,

this, Ru, is a picnic

And that was my introduction to magic

and how to create magic in
your life, little magic

– [Narrator] When in your life
did you feel most abandoned?

– When in my life did
I feel most abandoned?

Well, you know, funny enough

this morning George and I went on a walk

here in Beverly Hills at
about 4:30 in the morning

and when I was 28,

turning 28 years old, when
Saturn returns in your life

I was out here with my younger sister,

sleeping on her couch with
not a nickel to my name

And I would walk around
in the middle of the night

in Los Angeles

with no car

and it was

the most hideous existence
that you could ever imagine

That went on for a couple of months

before I came to my senses
and moved back to New York

– [Narrator] What is
the most significant way

you mother has influenced
you as an artist?

– My mother told me
something very important

She influenced the way I
conduct my life to this day

which is

unless they are paying your bills

pay them bitches no mind

So she gave me the chutzpah, the moxie

to do my life my way

– [Narrator] Action, dolly

– Is Dolly here?

I'm sorry, you know,

ya gotta entertain yourself

otherwise what's the fucking point?

I've turned into my father
with the one-liners,

but I get it now

I really get it now

– [Crew] Culture

[clapboard snaps]

– [Narrator] What are you
obsessed with right now?

– I'm obsessed with striped
French sailor shirts

I, you know, honestly,

I must have

50 of them, 75, 80


And I just bought a few when
we were in France again

I mean, you can buy 'em anywhere,

but I love 'em

They're perfect

No, I actually, I wanna change my mind

This moment I'm obsessed
with the Bee Gees

I love the Bee Gees, the Brothers Gibb

I was just listening to them
on my hike yesterday morning

and in the bathtub this morning

and I could actually start crying

thinking about how
beautiful their songs are

And how just otherworldly the harmonies

I just, I love them so much

– [Narrator] Aside from you,

who's the most fabulous
person on the planet?

– Wow, you know, the first
person that comes to mind

is Dolly Parton

– [Narrator] What's one thing
people would be surprised

to know about you?

– Uh, I think they'd be
surprised to know that

I'm actually more of an
introvert than I let on

I'm actually not really a people person

I can do it, I've studied humans,

I know how to engage with humans,

it's not my favorite thing to do

I like being alone a lot

– [Narrator] What never
fails to make you emotional?

– Toy Story 3 really gets me

I saw Toy Story 4 on the
plane coming back from Europe

the other day

and I loved it and I cried throughout it,

but it reminded me that
Toy Story 3 had me bawling

from beginning to end

Similar to the Wizard of Oz

which is also the story
human life on this planet

– [Narrator] Did you ever spend time

in a restaurant named Florent?

– I went to Florent restaurant in New York

starting in 1985

It opened in '85 and I
started going there then

and I went there till the end

In fact, the other day,
this is a true story,

I lit a candle with some
matches from Florent

and it's been closed for, I don't know,

it's been 10 years maybe

How long has Florent been closed?

– [Narrator] Since 2008

– Oh, wow, yeah

– [Narrator] What about Stingy Lulu's?

– Stingy Lulu's was a restaurant I'd go to

in the East Village all the time

and just about a year and a
half ago, maybe two years ago,

Zach Gana-[babbling]

How do you say his name?

– [Narrator] Galifianakis

– Say it again

– [Narrator] Galifianakis

– Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis was my
waiter at Stingy Lulu's

– [Narrator] What do you miss most

about the '80s drag scene in New York?

– The thing I miss most

about the '80s drag scene in New York

is I had the freedom

to terrorize y'alls neighborhoods

before I became the poster
child for drag around the world

I used to be very

un-, un-PC around New York

and we had a lot of fun

And used to party a lot

And [laughing] I was able to, um,

you know, be what drag
queens did in the '80s

which was terrorize and
have fun and be wild

And people weren't
taking selfies or saying,

ooh, Miss RuPaul

In fact, after 2 AM I became my alter ego,

which is Bianca Dinkins

She was the illegitimate
daughter of Mayor David Dinkins

and then by 4 AM I
became known as Cupcake



And y'all don't wanna, you
don't want Cupcake up in here


Or Bianca Dinkins

'Cause she, watch your
pocketbooks 'round Bianca Dinkins

– [Crew] Work

[clapboard snaps]

– [Narrator] How's work?

– I love work

I work a lot, I like to work

It keeps the voices at bay

– [Narrator] What time
did you get up today?

– I got up today at three o'clock

Usually I get up at four o'clock,

but I'm a little thrown off from having

traveled in Europe for
the past three weeks

– [Narrator] Who would you
cast to play you in a biopic?

– I would cast Raven-Symone to play me

She's fabulous, she could do anything

– [Narrator] If you were not a performer

what would you do for a living and why?

– Well, for a living, gee whiz

You know, the closest thing I can think of

is be a teacher because
I'm naturally curious

and I'd want to bring young
people along for the ride

of experiencing life all over again

I love to experience life
and discover new things

So that's, I would be a teacher

– [Narrator] How long does
it take you to get in drag?

– It takes me just under 300 years

– [Narrator] How did you discover
that you were a performer?

– Well, I feel like I
was a born performer

You know, I was told from
childhood that I would be famous

My mother saw a psychic when
she was pregnant with me

and the psychic said, well,
you're gonna have a boy

This was before ultrasound

And he's going to be famous

So I grew up knowing I would be famous

and I had to figure out, okay,
well how am I gonna do that?

I love creativity

I love irreverence and
colors and music and dancing

and movement and shapes and sizes

so I thought, well, I
will become an actor,

or a performer, or a singer

I love David Bowie

So that's where I hitched
my wagon to that star

– [Narrator] How did public access TV

affect your development as an artist?

– Well, I grew up watching television

Everything I know I
learned from television

Didn't learn a single
thing in school [laughing]

It would probably help
if I went to classes,

but never learned anything in school

I learned everything I
know from television

So in the early '80s when cable
television became the king,

part of their deal was they
had to give the public access

to certain channels on the cable box

So public access was a
way for everyday people

to produce television

and a lot of it was rotten
which made it so, so good

But when I saw it, I saw
these irreverent Monty Python,

liberal, gorgeous freaks
on their television show

I said, that's my tribe

So I joined in and I
started making television

in 1982 with them

– [Narrator] You've said
we're all born naked

and the rest is drag

What does that mean?

– I've famously said,

you're born naked and the rest is drag

What that means is that we are all

more than just what it says we
are on our driver's license

Or what it says we are
in our job description

We are actually, in reality,

an extension of the power that
created the whole universe

Can you handle it?

– [Narrator] We're gonna cut

– I'mma take this microphone off

All right

– [Crew] Thank you so much

– Thank you, guys, thank you

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