RuPaul, one of the world’s most famous drag queens, runs the gamut of entertainment: music, scoring a pop hit with “Supermodel” in 1993; TV, hosting a talk show on VH1; and movies, appearing in the films “Crooklyn” and “The Brady Bunch Movie.”
At age 44, RuPaul is returning to the stage after several years away from the public eye. He’ll perform a concert as part of the UnderWear Party at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday night.
Question: What can we expect to see on stage: Are you a drag queen diva making a difficult comeback or does it feel like the old days?
RuPaul: Are those my only choices? (laughs) They’re going to see me having a fabulous time, being a shining example of what life can be when you are living your dream without restriction.
Q: Describe your show. Do you sing live, for instance?
RuPaul: I sing live. I do all the stuff people know me for. I’ll do songs from “RuPaul Red Hot,” my latest album.
Q: Are you the most famous drag queen singer?
RuPaul: Let’s define drag. Drag isn’t necessarily a man doing female attire. It can be a female doing male attire. When you get even deeper, you’re born naked, and the rest is drag. Everything is drag. Whatever you fall into after you get out of the shower is your drag in the broader sense of the definition.
Q: So I’m doing this interview in drag?
RuPaul: (laughs) You are in full drag right now.
Q: I love the name of one of your early background singing duos, RuPaul and the U-Hauls. How did you get that name?
RuPaul: This was in the early ’80s, fresh out of the punk/new wave angle. It was important to have an irreverent name. The girls I had backing me up were heavy-set girls. So the idea that they were U-Hauls really worked.
Q: Have you played an UnderWear Party before?
RuPaul: I have done every party you can imagine. I’ve done bar mitzvahs, weddings, casinos …
Q: Hold it, hold it. You’ve played a bar mitzvah?
RuPaul: (laughs) What do you think, I crashed the bar mitzvah? I was hired. The kid knew what he wanted, and his parents were very wealthy.
Q: How tall are you in heels?
RuPaul: I’m 6-4 in stocking feet. I’m not sure with heels on and a wig.
Q: Seven feet?
RuPaul: Sure, let’s say seven feet. With hair, heels and attitude, I’m through the (expletive) roof. (laughter from the interviewer) You like that, Tom?
Q: Why did you disappear from public view during the last few years?
RuPaul: In 2000, I turned 40. It’s like when Dorothy hit Oz and thought, “What now, my love?” Or as Peggy Lee would say, “Is that all there is?” I moved to California and got to know my nieces and nephews and didn’t think about dieting. It was great for emotional development.
Q: You look great in publicity photos. Have you had cosmetic surgery?
RuPaul: I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t had any surgery. And luckily I got my mother’s legs.
Q: Around holiday time, do you put on your Christmas album “Ho, Ho, Ho”?
RuPaul: I don’t, but I get a lot of e-mails from people around the world who play it. I recorded it in 3 days. I enjoyed it, and you can hear the urgency and the fun.
Q: You seem like the perfect celebrity for a reality TV show appearance, but you haven’t done one.
RuPaul: I get a call once a week about it. I’m not interested in that stuff. The ones I’ve seen and the ones presented to me are mean-spirited. Their purpose is to diminish a person’s integrity. I’m not into that. And I’m such an easy target.
THE UNDERWEAR PARTY W/ RUPAUL
When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 216 State St., Madison
Tickets: $18. Must be 18 or older.
Acceptible attire: Boxers, briefs, panties, lingerie, swim trunks, bikinis, pajamas.