RuPaul recently sat down with the Los Angeles Times for a roundtable discussion about reality television with reality television. Hosts Phil Keoghan (‘The Amazing Race’), Jane Lynch (‘Hollywood Game Night’) and Padma Lakshmi (‘Top Chef’) joined RuPaul to discuss a variety of topics, including the issues of authenticity, how to keep the show fresh, the audiences’ connection to the show and the most challenging moments.
The hour-long discussion is very insightful, but for those of you who don’t have the time to watch the whole thing we’ve transcribed RuPaul’s parts below and added time stamps so you can quickly jump to the parts where he talks about RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Below you can watch the full video or you can read the transcripts. If you can, we highly recommend you watch the video to get the full personality that RuPaul puts into his answers because the jokes, when transcribed, come off differently then they do in the video.
[09:40] Host: RuPaul, I’m guessing that for your show it’s gotta be operating in a somewhat – that whole issue of authenticity versus what’s fake, what’s theatrical – that’s gotta be operating in a somewhat different way, right?
You know, everybody has this idea that reality is so fake, and the audience even things ‘Oh that was edited that way,’ but if you see it on camera it happened. And you know – I gotta tell ya – reality TV is more real than real life, I gotta say. Everyone has this idea that it’s, that there’s all this trickery and Franken-editing and Frankenstein-ing. Not on our show. Our show is personality driven. These are the most courageous characters in the world, and these are boys who were shunned from their families, from their neighborhoods, and everybody said, ‘You can’t do that, you can’t!’ But guess what? They did it anyways. So we choose from that group of people – who are already amazing and courageous – and we cast this show as an ensemble: somebody represents the ingenue, somebody represents the old school, somebody who represents the new school. And so we put all these people together and you’ve got dynamite. You wanna talk about reality? That’s reality! And it’s real on a level that I can’t event tell you. And I can’t even convince you to believe it because we’re trained to be skeptical of it. It’s more real-er than I could tell you honey.
[14:45] Host: (Paraphrased) How do you keep it fresh? How do you keep it new?
I don’t know if you know, but all the producers on our show are gay, soooo – sorry ’bout it – we’ve very, very creative people. And we draw from the vast history of not only the gay experience, but also the outsider experience, the people who dance to the beat of a different drummer. And you know, our show showcases the art of drag, which is really about really mocking everything, so everything’s up for grabs! And so you take on any subject and you add drag to it and it’s HILARIOUS and interesting because it takes on a different texture and you go ‘Huh, oh my goodness. Oh look at that through these eyes’ you know? And our show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, at it’s core is really about the tenacity of the human spirit. How interesting is that? The human spirit? Let’s make a show about it. We love that! Human spirit. I think that’s why the audience tunes in.
[21:03] Host: Most people don’t know about the drag community –
I beg to differ. I think, you know, this is – at it’s core – what happens is the audience gets to see someone break through that wall – that wall that we all have and that the audience has. You know, watching the crucifixion and resurrection of someone – everybody loves a comeback – so in the course of all of these shows you get to root for someone who has possibly your own goals in life or you relate to them because they’re trying their best. And then when you see them breakthrough and they get it, the get it, you go ‘Yes! Yes!’ because you understand it on a human level. You understand because that’s your story too. That’s what we do on these shows. That’s what reality shows are. We tell the audience’s story. Not specifically, but at its core. Breaking through, becoming a champion at what you wanna do.
[34:35] Host: RuPaul, any moments that have gone in ways that you though weren’t good?
The hardest part of doing my show is when some real emotional thing happens, and I make that ugly cry face – which is very hard to make because my face is full of botox and so it makes it really difficult. I’m crying right now. I started crying the moment I walked through the doors actually.
No, it’s hard, you know. I like to be in control and there have been some times when those kids have revealed something on there – I don’t even wanna repeat some of the stuff. These are people who have been through hell and high water to get to this show. And these are the people that our culture has shunned and said ‘You can’t do that!’ I mean, you know, dressing up in girls cloths, if you’re a boy, is like an act of treason in a male dominated culture. And here we have champions – the best of the best – and so it get emotional. When they get real, oh it’s gon’ get real. And so my face may crack, and I try to cry and that’s difficult.
Host: The emotion is something that you want right?
Oh I do, just not on my face!