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“Workin’ It! RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Style” — What A Drag!


If this is how RuPaul works it, then it’s time for her to hang up her sequined dresses and her voluminous blond wigs. One would think RuPaul, of all people, would know how to make an entrance in any situation, but whatever flamboyance he emanates on stage does not translate to the written word. It’s almost as if the RuPaul persona has been transformed into a “ladies who lunch” caricature, full of restraint and propriety. If RuPaul was trying to a avoid sounding like a cliché (the bitchy, rude drag queen), he succeeded, but in turn wound up coming off like Barbara Bush in drag. Soooo not ideal.

The book includes very little autobiographical information, so don’t expect to learn anything particularly revelatory (much less any gossip tidbits). There is, however, a wealth of fortune cookie-ready mantras about positive energy, the importance of making a good first impressions, and other philosophies that lack any real profoundness.

As far as style and beauty secrets, I can summarize it into less than 10 bullet points: RuPaul’s diet consists mainly of oatmeal, grilled fish or chicken, and yogurt;  RuPaul swears by long, luscious lashes and so his makeup artist Mathu always curls the lashes, adds some mascara, and then carefully applies false lashes; he often shaves his eyebrows for stage performances, using makeup to create the desired look; he swears by colonics;  he uses lace-front wigs, preferably synthetic, which he has styled a day before his stage performance; to create a curvaceous silhouette, he uses foam rubber, trims it down to size, and wears it under support hose; and he recommends relying on the bevel stance (where your feet are positioned to create a “T”, with the right foot as the stem and the left feet as the top of the “T” shape) to streamline your silhouette on stage. That about sums up the key points made. You tell me: are you satisfied? ‘Cause I feel cheated!

So what’s the book mainly about, you ask? Sadly, it’s completely disjointed. At some points, RuPaul shares anecdotes, but always in a very hasty manner, without delving too deep into detail. At other points, he shares “insider” tips, but most people with even a rudimentary knowledge of fashion and beauty would be well-acquainted with these. Another problem: the reader never quite knows if RuPaul is attempting to give advice to everyday women or if he’s trying to school up-and-coming drag queens, since he seems to alternate between the two without any real distinction. When you actually get down to it, the  book mainly includes image after image of RuPaul from various photo shoots and events. Now, the images are phenomenal — it’s crazy how RuPaul manages to look sexier (and prettier) in drag than many women who were genetically designed to be, well, women. It speaks volumes about how much you can accomplish with careful makeup application and styling. But I know that, personally, I wouldn’t spend my hard-earned cash on a book of RuPaul photos — no matter how photogenic a drag queen he may be.

My suggestion: skip it. Even if the intrigue factor is there, once you open up those pages, the disappointment will sink in. A book from a drag queen that lacks luster? That’s just wrong.

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