RuPaul Andre Charles was born in San Diego, where he was kicked out of high school in 1975. Moving to Atlanta with his sister, he landed at Northside School of the Performing Arts and blossomed creatively. Long before becoming host of the LogoTV reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo is an LGBT cable network from MTV) and an unlikely MTV star with the 1993 hit “Supermodel (You Better Work),” the drag performer strutted the stage at Atlanta nightclubs 688, Tokyo Beach, Colorbox, and Weekends throughout the 1980s. Copied black-and-white posters of the androgynous entertainer littered telephone poles in Midtown, proclaiming, “RuPaul Is Red Hot.”

Paying the Rent RuPaul once played Riff Raff in a Theatrical Outfit production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show that lasted four months. An Afro-attired RuPaul also had a cameo in the B-52s’ 1989 “Love Shack” music video.

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue