When it comes to “Sashay! Shantay!” nobody does it like RuPaul. The long-serving drag queen and host of RuPaul’s Drag Race knows a thing or two about being fabulous. But according to RuPaul, he learned from the big ’60s and ’70s icons like Cher and Diana Ross. He told Variety in 2018, “They were unlikely superstars and misfits in their own way. Just knowing they existed helped me gain my fame and helped me to keep going during times when not much stood in my way. “
The “Supermodel” singer was also a ride-or-die David Bowie fan, admitting to Billboard in 2017, “I was more than – more than – obsessed with David Bowie. From the time I was about 14 years old for the rest of my life. He went on to tell the outlet that when Bowie’s daughter Lexi (whom he shared with his wife Iman) visited the set of Drag Race, RuPaul broke down and cried. “To think David Bowie’s kid was on our set …I didn’t let her see it, but the fact that I’ve lived long enough in my life to have that turnaround to where David Bowie’s kid was obsessed with something I was doing was really crazy.”
Fandom from afar is one thing, of course, but the charismatic drag queen actually had the chance to meet the late, great Ziggy Stardust hitmaker before he died in 2016 after a cancer diagnosis, and it was a meeting that shook RuPaul to the core .
RuPaul screamed and cried when he met David Bowie
The late rock star David Bowie made his name with hits of ’70s glam rock like “Space Oddity” and “Starman,” and as drag queen RuPaul tells it, he met the man who had made big ones Impact on culture and music was a life changing event. In 2016, drag performer Vulture opened up about their meeting. “I was at a dinner party and when I saw he was there I had to apologise… Looking back, I guess he walked in precisely because he knew I was walking in there. And he said ‘Hello’ and shook my hand. I said, ‘Hello, nice to see you.’ And we talked a little. Then I actually escaped the party and didn’t sit down to dinner because I had to go downstairs and let out the screaming and crying that followed.
Referring to the Life On Mars rocker’s legacy, RuPaul added, “To find those beacons in that darkness is such a gift. And he is. He still is. Through his music and his art, how he projected that image out there.”
This wasn’t the first time RuPaul had discussed this meeting. Reflecting on Bowie’s tragic death, Ru posted a now-deleted tweet that read (per PinkNews), “I met #DavidBowie at a dinner party in 1997. I was calm, cool collected, but shortly thereafter I quietly left to walk down the street screaming and crying.”
David Bowie was a secret RuPaul Stan
To RuPaul’s delight, we now know that ‘Changes’ rock star David Bowie was also a big fan of the famous drag queen. In 2016, RuPaul spoke to Yahoo about finding a rare interview with crooner “Man Who Sold the World,” who was very clear about wanting Ru to cover one of his songs. “I saw an interview with him from 1997 and he talks about Lou Reed’s ‘Transformers.’ [which Bowie produced], and he talks about every track. And he’s like, “Who do you think could cover those tracks today?” And he’s like, “I think RuPaul would be good for this track [“Make Up”] here.’ I hadn’t seen this interview until recently and it just blew my mind.”
The video in question was an interview with the PBS film “Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart,” in which Bowie lists popular ’90s bands who should cover his and Reed’s songs, and you can almost hear the icon mutter what RuPaul is doing would “Probably do better.”
As for Bowie’s latest album Blackstar, RuPaul not only loved it, he said it’s a tragedy that we’ll never have more music from the British legend. “It just made me miss the fact that he couldn’t do more,” he told Billboard. “When I heard this album and its jazzy undertones, I was like, ‘Oh my god’… I just loved him so much. I still love him so much.”