RuPaul, Seriously

The ultimate diva brings talent and style to Hairball 9

In this, the ninth year of Hairball, organizers Jeff Noble (of Bouffant Daddy Salon) and Robert Parker are bringing St. Louisans more than just a fun fundraising event, complete with hair-related acts by local salons -- they're bringing us the one-and-only RuPaul! The singer/actor is surprisingly soft-spoken over the phone, despite the fact that he has such a big singing voice and personality (and has been such a big voice for the LGBT community). RuPaul says, "I'm very excited about coming to St. Louis and bringing some love with me." We look forward to receiving love.

Even though he's been out of the public eye for a few years, RuPaul hasn't lost any of the attitude. He laughs when he says he plans on wearing "nothing at all" to the annual event, which benefits St. Martha's Hall (a shelter for abused women and their children). But what will RuPaul's hair look like?

"Actually, my current hairstyles are all on my Web site at www.rupaul.com. My hair is more relaxed these days; it's not so coiffed. In fact my whole persona is more touchable, more accessible, which actually translates as more dangerous." RuPaul clarifies, "Because in our culture, for boys who play with girls things, it's still very taboo, as you well know, and I was able to slip under the radar because my persona was very nonthreatening and very caricature. So now the persona is actually more touchable and more real -- it actually poses more of a threat to the mainstream."

The mainstream meaning conservative, religious-right types. But when asked about his heroes, RuPaul confesses a little something: "I dig Jesus Christ. I'm not a Christian, I'm not religious -- I have to tell you that -- but as someone who prevails this long and whose message was of pure love, I dig him. And, of course, what people have done with him since then, I'm not too cool with that."

So Jesus is one of RuPaul's heroes, but what about modern-day inspiration? In these red-state times, where does RuPaul turn? "I think Judge Judy would be my [inspiration] -- I saw her on television this morning -- that's where I find inspiration, because here's someone who shoots from the hip, is straight-up telling the truth. Some people think of her as being mean -- she's not mean. People don't understand what mean is. She's not malicious. She is tough." Good point. Maybe we all should start thinking in terms of WWJJD.

Hairball 9 starring RuPaul is held Sunday, May 1, at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-6161 or www.thepageant.com). The show -- which includes acts from Bouffant Daddy, Lemon Spalon, Sexy Hair Concepts and other salons -- runs from 7 p.m. to midnight and costs $25 (if you're a VIP, arrive at 6 p.m. for a reception and pay $75; visit www.stlhairball.org for tickets and more information). You can also look forward to hearing some of RuPaul's hits as well as songs from his new album, RuPaul Red Hot.

"I'm very excited," RuPaul says. "I'm so grateful that I can still work after all these years and that people still are excited about seeing me. I don't take it for granted, because I've been doing this for 23 years, and in this business people come and go, and people are forgotten constantly, and there are always new kids coming up and whatever. But, you know, I took some time away, and I came back, and people still want to see me, and I couldn't be happier, I couldn't be more grateful." And St. Louis couldn't be happier to have the visit.

 
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