It takes a lot to stand out in a scene you share with the B-52s.
The genre-defying band brought bold, brassy style to the late 80s, with colorful retro inspired looks that resembled nothing else going on in the world at the time.
But in the video for their smash hit Love Shack, it’s hard to take your eyes off a tall figure who shimmies on camera from the right for a few brief moments in several shots. In a sea of colorful characters, this dancer is clad in a simple white halter and matching hot pants, all topped off by an explosive Afro. While the other party goers’ faces are wreathed in smiles, this face can only be described as fierce. Partying is serious business, and he’s got werk to do.
That fierce face working it out over in the corner is now the world’s most well-known drag queen. He’s presided over the hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race for ten years, in the process taking the art form from a niche network to cultural phenomenon.
It takes moxie to shimmy into the national consciousness draped in a form-fitting beaded gown, and RuPaul has it. Here’s how:
Moxie takes root in rejection.
Long before RuPaul was the strong, confident drag queen gracing the screen today, he was a sad little boy sitting on his front porch waiting for his father to come home.
RuPaul Andrew Charles was just seven years old when his parents divorced and his father left the family behind. Little RuPaul and his sisters would often wait on their front porch, straining to catch a glimpse of their father coming up the street to see them. Their efforts were never rewarded.
Little RuPaul felt the abandonment deeply, and at least in part that rejection fueled his passion for performing and for drag.
“The first half of my career was really about getting my father’s attention,” RuPaul said in an interview.
But over time, RuPaul’s perspective shifted. Drag went from being a way to fill a need for attention to being a source of power and strength. He began to realize his ability to transform himself was not so much putting on a costume, it was tapping into something that was already present in himself – power, confidence, joy – and putting it on display so the whole world could see it.
It takes moxie to transform hurt into healing, and RuPaul has it.
Moxie sees the world for what it is.
Shakespeare told us that “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He wasn’t wrong.
RuPaul has taken the idea one step further.
“We all came into this world naked. The rest is all drag,” he says.
We are all dressing up and shape shifting every day, he asserts, whether we don a three piece suit or a fast food service uniform or a rhinestone studded gown. We can be defined by our appearance, or we can manipulate appearance to define ourselves.
The moxie lies in recognizing and taking power over that truth. Which is it for you today? Are you showing up for life as it demands of you, or are you defining your own life?
Moxie celebrates its own power.
RuPaul doesn’t stop at declaring that all of life is drag. He goes further to say that every person is divine.
“You are an extension of the power that created the whole universe,” he said in an interview last year while promoting his latest book, GuRu. “Oh, and you know, most people have forgotten that, conveniently. They’ve conveniently forgotten that. Stop playing small. Play your greatness. Do your greatness. I think most people don’t play their greatness because it takes a lot of responsibility. You have to be mindful and you have to take care of yourself.”
RuPaul is helping the world understand that drag is about more than dresses and make up. It’s about taking power over your own life and living with joy and intention.
It takes moxie to believe that you have the kind of power it takes to shape yourself and the world around you. Do you have that kind of moxie?