There’s surely no more dramatic moment on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race than when the star glares at the contestants on the edge of elimination and orders them to “lip-synch for your life!” But while the ability to mime has long been part of the drag-performer arsenal, RuPaul (born RuPaul Charles in San Diego in 1960) has always done much more behind the microphone. While coming up through the scenes in Atlanta in the ’80s and New York in the early ‘90s, RuPaul showed off some seriously fierce skills as a singer and dancer. A playful house anthem that became a trailblazing pop crossover in 1992, “Supermodel (You Better Work)” demonstrated RuPaul’s determination to sound as good as he looked. The releases that followed his 1993 debut album, Supermodel of the World, brandished the same risqué sensibility as his breakthrough hit: Who else but Ru would name a Christmas album Ho Ho Ho? And even as his cheeky competition show grew from cult favorite into a bona fide TV institution, RuPaul continued to delight fans with a steady stream of exuberant singles and albums that combined his ultra-fabulous persona with a wide range of dance-music styles, including the bounce influence that energizes 2014’s Born Naked.
HOMETOWNSan Diego, CA
BORNNovember 17, 1960