Drag queen RuPaul set to `Work' block party

Performer returns after 5-year break

June 18, 2005|By Abigail Tucker | Abigail Tucker,SUN STAFF

Headlining tonight's Baltimore Pride Block Party is RuPaul Charles, perhaps the world's most famous drag queen. The 44-year-old Charles, who is best-known for the 1992 dance hit, "Supermodel/You Better Work," has lain low for the past few years - or rather, as low as a 6-foot-4-inch diva can lie.

But now he's back in the spotlight, touring to promote a new album, RuPaul RedHot, as well as a line of anatomically correct RuPaul dolls.

The performer will take the stage last at the party on Eager Street in Mount Vernon, which runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

First, though, he took a few minutes to discuss good music, aging gracefully and blogging.

Do drag queens age?

Unfortunately, yes. But it's all good. It's a good thing to tell the truth about it. My story is a pretty important story to a lot of young people, particularly during gay pride season. For people to put things together it's important for people to know what time period we're talking about.

Does it ever get old being a drag queen?

You say that like I'm just a drag queen. I'm the drag queen, not a drag queen. The rules are different. I thought about giving it up a few years ago. I gave it a few years to cool and chill and focus on being an emotional human being. ... There was an election that was in my opinion stolen and in my opinion we were heading back into the Middle Ages culturally. I felt my being on the radar was important to young people, more than anything, even if it's to say follow your heart and do what you need to do, even if it's unpopular.

You have a new album out. How has your musical style evolved since "You Better Work?"

The new album is very autobiographical in that it really tells the story of what I've done from an emotional level. It's really a diary of the past five or six years and is an emotional adventure. It has the same love-your-life feeling that my other work has. It's the best thing I've ever done.

After you were inducted into Madame Tussaud's wax museum in 2000, you seemed to disappear. Was this like a House of Wax thing? Have you been trapped in wax for the past five years?

It was time. I'd been doing this for many, many years. Every artist who is paying attention knows you have to step back from the canvas for a minute to see what you're doing. I was taking a personal inventory. I didn't know if I wanted to use my body as a canvas anymore.

You have a blog. What's it like to communicate without your famous physique?

My physical image has always been a facet of my communication with the public. The blog is great because it comes through unadulterated, ... uncensored by a reporter or a newspaper. Really it adds depth to my personality. ... The blog is different because it's like you're really in my head. It's hard to pigeonhole me because I'm all over the place. What you hear in the blog is personal, a human being, not the caricature people are probably used to.

What do you think of the Baltimore gay scene?

I was there in 1994 recording stuff for my second album that never made it on the album. I had a great time visiting used CD stores ... but I haven't been since.

What can we expect from your performance?

This is one of my favorite questions because I try to sell myself. I'll tell you. I do songs from all of my albums, I spread love and dance and sing and change outfits and let people have a really good time. I said let? I mean allow.

What will you wear?

That's a surprise. You have to wait and see.

RuPaul

Diva RuPaul performs a free concert as part of this weekend's Baltimore Pride celebrations.

What: Block party

Where: Eager Street between Cathedral and Charles streets.

When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. today

Call: 410-837-5445 or visit www.baltimorepride.org.

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