Rarely has this reporter been so unable to contain her unbridled glee at interviewing a celebrity. I told everyone who would sit still long enough about this interview. I sweated the questions, mumbling to myself, "Shut up, Georgia, that one is so stupid. Think, dammit. Think!"
But this, dear readers, was no mundane famous person. This was RuPaul, queen of queens, star of stars and host of "RuPaul's Drag Race" on Logo, which returns for its fourth season at 8 p.m. Monday, bringing three Chicago-based queens with it.
On "Drag Race," the creme de la creme of the nation's drag queens compete in challenges such as the celebrity impersonating "Snatch Game" for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar. After walking the runway in their finest drag couture and "lip synching for your life" (if they're unlucky enough to be in the bottom two), contestants either get to "shante, stay" or have to "sashay away."
It's pretty compelling, and the latest season is no exception.
The newest contestants "understand what reality TV is," RuPaul said. "Our show has become destination No. 1 if you choose to do drag. So they have come not afraid to show sort of the sticky parts of their personalities. They understand that's part of what makes them so endearing to us."
Expectations are high. "Drag Race" has become something of a runaway success for both RuPaul and the Logo network. Logo says "Drag Race" is its most-watched show and that last season's episodes were streamed 14 million times online.
Those kind of numbers might be freaking out network execs, but they certainly aren't shocking RuPaul.
"I'm always surprised when people don't respond to shiny, sparkly things. Because when you're a baby, those are the things you want," RuPaul said. "I'm not surprised by the success of the show, because it's exactly what babies like, it's what we really like. I'm always surprised when things like that don't fly."
The first episode of the new season introduces a batch of 13 queens who will vie for more prize money than in past seasons--100,000. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Chicago native Dan Savage are among the celelbrity judges.
This season will be even "edgier" than past ones, RuPaul promises, which is a tough order when in past seasons we've seen wig-pulling, body slams, full splits and the funniest (and raunchiest) commentary on TV. One choice comment RuPaul made in Season 2 as queen Tyra Sanchez walked the runway: "There's nothing dirty about that Sanchez!"
It's been said before, but RuPaul truly is both Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on the show, giving encouragement as the sweet mentor but also snarling "don't [bleep] it up" after detailing a challenge. RuPaul is a personality for the ages. And it turns out, a bit of a fan of Chicago, too. The city comes to represent on the show, bringing drag queens DiDa Ritz, Phi Phi O'hara and The Princess.
"Chicago has always been a pivotal part of my life and my whole story, so to have girls from Chicago [on ‘Drag Race'], obviously it had to happen," he said. "I know it sounds so cliche, but there is some great shopping there on the Miracle Mile."
But hometown favorites aside, the real reason "Drag Race" is so endearing to fans like Katy Perry, who said she loved the show; and Adam Lambert, whose former make-up artist Sutan Amrull won last season's competition; is RuPaul himself (or herself, turns out she doesn't care which pronoun you throw her way).
"My mother was completely punk rock. She said, 'Unless they're going to pay your bills, pay those bitches no mind.' Don't let what other people have to say control your decision-making process," RuPaul said. "Now of course, there are times when I don't feel confident. But I guess when you look at the overview of my life, I've decided I'm going to go for it."
Should I wear my hair up or down? Black dress or red? How high do those heels need to go? So many decisions; it's enough to make a girl quit life entirely. Don't despair, squirrelfriend, because RuPaul is here to save the day with ... drag decisions. GG
Crown or tiara?
"Oh, tiara. A crown is too hard to navigate."
Wig: blond, brunette or redhead?
Paris or Milan?
"Paris, more romantic. Milan, it's always gray and the people are more conservative in Milan. Paris is the city of light and love and beauty."
Perfect hair or perfect makeup?
"Perfect makeup. The hair, you can just throw a towel on it, but if you have a gorgeous face you're golden."
Best song to walk the runway to?
"Oh, ‘Supermodel.' You better work!"
Leather or lace?
"Leather. It actually can hold you in as a corset if it's designed right."
Emmy or Grammy?
"I would love to win an Emmy more than a Grammy. I love music--music is my life--but I'm in the TV business now."
Diamonds or pearls?
"Oh, diamonds. I love light and the way that light shines through a diamond."
Trip or push the competition?
"More of a push out of the way. I don't want to trip anyone because that's more malicious. Pushing is all about, 'move to the side' ... But I wouldn't do anything malicious because I'm only in competition with myself."
Glitter or more glitter?
"I'll say just glitter. Because if you live like me, there's glitter in the carpet, there's glitter everywhere."