I got up that morning thinking I was going to a doctor’s appointment. My thyroid is acting up again so I was Hashtag Adulting. The thing was, I also had a ticket to be in the live studio audience for the RuPaul show, a new talk show taping a three-week test to run on select Fox stations (New York, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Charlotte).
YES, that RuPaul. The RuPaul I’ve loved since my 1993 days, dancing around my college apartment with Louie, Scott, Molly, Gerson, Marcea, Gene, Stephen, Andrew, Lisa, Troy, and Jim, all of us screaming “Werk (Cover girl)! Werk it girl (Give a twirl)! Do your thing on the runway!”
I talk about RuPaul often, because I believe Mama Ru is one of the most authentic people on the planet. So the chance to be at a taping was a dream — to see an icon and idol, not just to me but to millions — that was priceless. I referenced RuPaul in a recent piece (Why Toxic People Are Dangerous — Sashay Away), and I’d just attended RuPaul’s DragCon for the second time in Los Angeles, so this taping was both well-timed and a real priority.
I woke up and forced myself to log in to find my doctor’s address, only to discover the appointment was oddly absent from my account. I called the doctor’s office and heard these sweet magic words: “The doctor called in sick so we have to reschedule.” I was overjoyed. And baby you know I fired up my hot rollers, got out my Diane von Furstenburg-esque red wrap dress, MAC Viva Glam IV, and my Dorothy Gale red mary jane shoes. In record time I was ready to rock the Warner Brothers Studios.
Fantastic staff members checked everyone in, and just before we were allowed on set, a producer came out and said, “Just so you know, you all have to walk the runway to get to your seats, and RuPaul watches and personally picks a ‘Slay of the Day’ so you better werk it.”
The audience instructions said to wear solid colors, party-wear, and have cute handbags. I did that, but I was also wearing a black cape (it was a cold morning and I’ve been to tapings before — studios are freezing). My bag wasn’t “cute” but it did have an extra pair of shoes, a water bottle, snacks — not so sexy but I needed my supplies.
I decided to use my turn on the runway to do a “reveal,” so I hid my bag under my cape and walked up calmly. At just the precise moment, I threw open my cape with a flourish, revealing my bright red dress, finishing by dragging the cape and bag behind me along the runway. It was so fun— and my first real runway walk.
We all got seated, and the wonderful Michelle Visage and Ross Mathewscame out to “warm up” the audience. All they had to say was,” You got this, Right?” The shared excitement of the crowd was palpable, and we were all ready to yell “yasssssssssss” and “AMEN” and give thunderous applause whenever they asked for it.
Seeing RuPaul hit the runway in a gorgeous suit — live and in person — and hearing that famous “hayyyy” was just fantastic. Ru picked a lovely woman in yellow for “Slay of the Day,” bringing her up on stage to slay it one more time. The rest of the taping was lovely; you feel like you are in Ru’s fabulous living room for a house party. Glitter, art deco designs, purple and pink overstuffed couches, and the words “everybody say love” in neon shining out over all of us.
The taping wrapped and a production person came over to me. She invited me to stay for the next episode taping, adding that they loved my dress. Why not? I was already dressed up and in the studio, and um, yes, of course, I wanted to stay. She told me to grab a snack and come back in to get seated.
When I returned, she said maybe we’ll have you walk the runway again when folks come in. I waited, expecting to be called back. New audience members came in and took their turns on the runway, but I didn’t see anyone give me the high sign, so I figured they were likely pressed for time and wouldn’t call me back.
Michelle and Ross did their thing again, and Ru appeared in another flawless suit, saying hello to the new crowd. Then Ru said, “Now it’s time for me to pick my “Slay of the Day.” RuPaul looked around and pointed directly at me, saying, “It’s YOU! The woman with the red flower in her hair — You are my SLAY OF THE DAY!” You can tell by the look on my face I was surprised. Ru said, “Get on up here.” I hustled myself up and there I was — standing next to Ru on the runway, in total shock. What was it like? He is so tall — glamazon and gorgeous — certainly I must have floated on a cloud of glitter and sparkles to stand beside him. Ru asked my name and where I’m from, then said, “Well okay girl, you got one more in you? Can we see you slay this runway one more time?” I said, “you betcha.” I turned around, walked to the back of the runway, spun around, and sashayed myself down. My inner voice said over and over, “be fierce, don’t fall, be fierce, don’t fall,” and hearing Ru yell, “yassssssss” my heart sang and it was a blast. It all happened so fast, and before I knew it I was back in my seat in the audience, my heart pumping overtime.
I watched the rest of the taping in wonder thinking, “did that just happen?” Asking my audience members next to me, “How was it?” “How did I do?” They were all very sweet, saying it was great.
The same production person found me at the end and guided me onto the set once more to take some still photos with RuPaul. I had just enough time to say hello and be beautifully star struck and to say thank you.
I asked the PA, “why didn’t you tell me,” and she smiled and said, “Ru does what he does, and we all loved your outfit, and he picked you as the Slay. It was more fun that way right, and aren’t you glad you stayed?” Did she even have to ask that? The answer was of course YES.
RuPaul is an icon and a role model, and the RuPaul Show is an important cultural moment and movement for the world. The tagline for the show is “Everybody Say Love.” We need to combine and raise our voices in joy and authenticity like RuPaul, to represent love, equality, and being who you are no matter what and supporting each other ON NATIONAL PRIME TIME TELEVISION. Now is the time.
So yes watch to see me picked as the Slay of the Day, but I also invite and encourage you to tune in to all of them, to spread that love and encourage the networks to bring us more stories in the spirit and sparkle that is RuPaul. The show has a limited run; a tryout, if you will, so your support on social media (and tuning in to watch the local showings), is hugely important. All episodes are on the RuPaul Show YouTube channel, and yes you can work your magic via Instagram and Twitter with retweets and posts — @RuPaulShow #everybodysaylove
You know, you never know when you will have a doctor’s appointment be canceled, be plucked out of a crowd, and be open to saying yes when asked to stay, so always put on that red dress and be ready to WERK it.
What an experience and I’ll leave you with RuPaul’s most famous expression that I believe with my whole heart is true for every one of us, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an amen?”
Yes, mama, AMEN. AMEN. And thank you, RuPaul, with much love and gratitude.
Written by Head Maven & CEO, Heather Newman, Creative Maven.
Heather is a marketer, writer, playwright, Microsoft MVP and lover of culture and “the why.” She has worked for over 20 years in technology and the arts. Heather lives in Los Angeles, California and enjoys traveling the world speaking about Office 365, SharePoint and Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. She is a published playwright, was born and raised in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Drama, Seattle WA and did a semester abroad at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Heather is always looking for an excuse to go to New York, New Orleans, London and the list of cities she made in her Dad’s Time/Life map when she was 11.
Check out her IG Story for #TheCurlerReport, tales of a woman on the go who happens to love her hot rollers.
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