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RuPaul Thinks You’re a Drag Queen Too

RuPaul posing for BBC to promote Drag Race UK Season 3.

Note: RuPaul uses she/he/they pronouns. 


“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag,” RuPaul sings in their 2014 hit “Born Naked.” If this is true, then we must all be drag queens/kings/artists, right? Wait. What’s drag? Who’s RuPaul

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According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are nearly 40 anti-drag laws in the United States trying to silence and control drag performers in recent years. In face of this discrimination, it’s important to shed light on the values of drag as an art form and pay homage to iconic drag performers who have paved the way for the art form. As the face of a drag empire, RuPaul is a fabulous place to start. Through some of her biggest hits, this article will explore what exactly RuPaul has to say to the LGBTQIA+ community, its allies and those trying to take her power away. But first, a short explanation of what drag is and how RuPaul became a drag icon.

In the famous words of RuPaul themself, RuPaul is not a drag queen. She is the “Queen of Drag.” But, what is drag? The historical definition of drag refers to the first biologically male female impersonators, who were named drag queens due to the way their skirts and long dresses they wore during vaudeville shows would drag on the floor. Fast forward to the modern day, some say drag is still purely female impersonation. Some say drag is a term for universal self expression. Others say drag is a form of protest.

No matter the definition, RuPaul has built a drag empire through her show RuPaul’s Drag Race, a currently 16 season long reality competition show in which 20 or so drag queens compete to win a crown, a year’s supply of makeup and $200,000. With nearly twenty international spin-off series, drag as an art form has taken over the world via television. 

RuPaul’s claim to fame was introducing drag to mainstream audiences on television, and her show helped her accomplish this goal. But many are unaware of RuPaul’s lengthy music career that’s been uplifting and entertaining anyone daring enough to express their “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent” since 1992. Two of RuPauls’ biggest hits are “Supermodel (You Better Work)” and “Born Naked.”

The album art for RuPaul’s “Supermodel of the World.”

1992’s “Supermodel (You Better Work)” was RuPaul’s first massive hit and was responsible for putting one of pop culture’s first drag superstars into the spotlight. This song is also arguably RuPaul’s most important hit because it’s the origin of the language used in the “Drag Race” reality show series. The famous ad-lib from this song happens to be from the chorus where RuPaul repeats the word “Work” in a way that means “strut your stuff” while famously ad-libbing “Sashay, Shantay.” 

Sashay and Shantay are both dance moves, but these words would come to mean whether or not a drag queen would be staying or leaving during each episode of the show. A lot of fans of RuPaul consider this song to be required reading or a mandatory listen because its lyrics are so ingrained in everything RuPaul has created since releasing this song. 

The song is also an introduction to RuPaul’s story and where they came from. The opening lines of the song are spoken and go “Once upon a time, there was a little Black girl / In the Brewster Projects of Detroit, Michigan / At fifteen, she was spotted by an Ebony Fashion Fair talent scout / And her modeling career took off.” Immediately you are brought into RuPual’s world, her story and her drag supermodel persona that the song is themed around. The lyrics in this track ooze confidence, femininity and fearlessness all of which RuPaul urges those around him to embody wherever they go, no matter who they are.

The album art for RuPaul’s “Born Naked.”

2014’s “Born Naked” is from RuPaul’s EP of the same name. This song is unlike the majority of RuPaul’s discography, which is typically pop or dance hits fit for a gay club. Instead, this track has rock and roll influences and stylistically pokes fun at a stereotypical country sound not often associated with LGBTQIA+ artists or audiences.

This song diverts all conservative and country expectations through its lyrics by questioning the listener, and asking them “Who, who do you think you are?” and singing proudly “I’m telling the truth now / We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” These lyrics repeat through the song, periodically questioning the listener about their identity and then reminding them that how they express themselves and who they choose to be is in many ways a form of drag. 

Another lyric that repeats in the song goes “Ooh, I’ll say it again / It’s never been the clothes that make the man / Nothing can.” In this lyric RuPaul is saying that although we express who we are through clothes, hair and makeup, it’s our identity on the inside that makes us who we are. When it comes to drag queens, people sometimes have an aversion to the dramatic and over the top makeup, hair and costumes. But, RuPaul is pointing out here that his drag persona is separate from the person he is on the inside and the person that got him to where he is today. 

Ultimately, “Born Naked” is equating personal expression and the identity we develop and how we choose to express ourselves after we’re born. Everyone chooses to express themselves differently and everyone should have the power to do that. 

When politicians try to take the power of self-expression away from drag queens, they should be reminded how much in common they have with icons like RuPaul. Politicians and drag queens alike were both Born Naked, and chose to express who they are every single day, proudly.

Support your local drag queens and, like a drag queen, express yourself fearlessly!

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  • T

    T. FurgusonMar 25, 2024 at 3:19 pm

    And like RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” Showing that you love yourself should be something we all aspire to, no matter what anyone says about it.