This space has been a little heavy lately, what with the presidential election and the war in Iraq. So when I saw this next story I thought it might lighten things up a bit.
Now I'll admit, I was a fan of RuPaul when he first appeared on the scene. I bought his first CD. I even bought his holiday CD. I figured, if there was another crossdresser making it in show biz (after Sylvester and Boy George) I'd show some support. But somewhere along the road, Ru and I parted ways.
Now it seems Ru—after some success in movies and on television—is having difficulty promoting his latest project.
Celebrity drag queen RuPaul - who's having a tough time promoting his latest album, "RuPaul Red Hot" - is blasting Us Weekly, Ellen DeGeneres and other members of the mainstream media for allegedly blackballing him.
The 43-year-old, 6-foot-7 diva - who was a gender-bending star of stage and screen back in the last century - accuses the Jann Wenner-owned Us of all manner of treachery in an E-mail obtained by Daily News contributor Jawn Murray.
"Us Weekly said they didn't have interest in reviewing my album, but would I consider joining their lineup for [the magazine's feature] FASHION POLICE," writes the diva, whose given name is RuPaul Andre Charles.
"No, thank you. That's like telling a black person that they're not welcome at the all-white party, unless they clear the table and wash the dishes."
…The missive, which has been circulated by gay activists in recent days, also takes out after the openly gay DeGeneres, who has a syndicated daytime television show.
"Bottom line, all the national shows passed on having me on to promote my new album," RuPaul writes. "Am I disappointed? Yeah, a little, especially after I read that Mase - the Bible-thumping rapper - was scheduled to appear on Ellen. ... Does she owe me anything just because she's queer? Absolutely not!"
Reps for DeGeneres did not respond by deadline yesterday.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe, just maybe the reason for the trouble Ru is having pushing his new DC doesn't have anything to do with his being gay or even a drag queen. If that were the case, how would he have achieve his past successes? No, I think there's something else going on here. I think it's the company he keeps.
Since the death of LaWanda Page—television's "Aunt Ester" from Sanford & Son, who featured prominently in Ru's first album and a couple of his video's—Ru has found a new sidekick. Unfortunately his choice is an act that has already drawn the ire of gay & lesbian activists and anti-racism activists across the country. Shirley Q. Liquor fills the LaWanda Page's shoes on Ru's new CD, supplying intros to at least two tracks. Ru has also been pretty vocal in his support of Shirley, who's performances tend to draw protests.
Shirley Q Liquor is a persona created by Long Beach, Mississippi resident, Registered Nurse and ordained Quaker minister, Chuck Knipp, a white man who performs in shabby drag and blackface. The character, a happy go lucky mother of 19 children, is exceptionally popular, especially on the internet and in the gay community. The character came into criticism in the year 2002 when protesters picketed a New York City performance, protesting Knipp's blackface performance as racist and misogynistic. The character was condemned by the left-wing National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and and a scheduled Shirley Q. Liquor performance in Boston was vetoed by the mayor. Democrat activist Keith Boykin has written that " Rather than challenging the ignorance of stereotypes, Knipp uses the stereotypes to show why he thinks blacks are ignorant."
This led to public response in support of the comedy of the character by various members of the civil libertarian, drag queen and gay community, including drag performer RuPaul, who calls Knipp's comedy "genius."
Like I said, I may be reaching a bit here, but I'm guess in that the combination of the controversy surrounding Shirley Q. Liquor, RuPaul's defense of Shirley, and Shirley's appearance on Ru's new CD is probably enough for Magazines like Us Weekley and shows like Degeneres' to politely pass on this particular project.
Maybe it's me, but those two media outlets seem to make their bread and butter on being noncontroversial. (Have you seen Ellen's show? It's pretty bland. And most of the time her being a lesbian doesn't come. But why should it? Everyone already knows.) And the first rule about being non-controversial is: if you can plainly see it, then you don't step in it.