The drag-queen queen is taking a pit stop from his gig as the ebullient host of the Logo competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race to sashay over to the buzzy ABC comedy Happy Endings to guest-star in an episode that will air in early 2013. Ru will play, fittingly, a hairdresser for Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Penny (Casey Wilson) who takes on their notoriously shlumpy gay friend, Max (Adam Pally), as a client. Hijinks, presumably, ensue.
For the multi-hyphenate host, the Happy Endings guest slot follows two decades of memorable, gloriously campy cameos in everything from Ugly Betty to Walker, Texas Ranger. Here, a look back at some of Ru’s best. Chanté!
Ugly Betty (2010)
While he wasn’t playing himself, RuPaul’s role in a Season 4 episode of Ugly Betty wasn’t exactly a stretch. As the master of ceremonies at a New York drag show, he confuses the Devil Wears Prada–esque fashion editor Wilhelmina Slater (played by Vanessa Williams) for her drag impersonator, who goes by the name Wilheldiva Hater, and forces Slater to sing for the crowd. It’s a bit part, but it serves as the catalyst for Williams to perform a drag number. So then, in reality, it may be the most essential character the now-defunct series has ever had.
Did you know Popular came from polarizing Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy? It should be evident after reading this bonkers plot description of the show’s series finale: a woman claiming to be Mary Cherry’s (Leslie Grossman) long-lost sister, Baby Honey “B.Ho” Child, arrives just in time for prom and convinces Mary’s mother to give her up for adoption. While at the orphanage, Mary performs a musical number set to Annie’s “It’s a Hard Knock Life” before her estranged daddy comes to save her. Of course “Daddy” is dressed in drag, goes by the name Sweet Honey Child, and is played by RuPaul. (Folks, this is just one character’s arc in one episode of the show ...)
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
The cult comedy features a who’s who of late-’90s It girls: Michelle Williams, Clea DuVall, and finally Natasha Lyonne as Megan, a teen girl whose parents suspect she is a lesbian and is sent away to hetero-conversion camp. (”But I’m a cheerleader!” Megan cries, convinced that she can’t possibly be gay because she’s a jock, despite the signs.) RuPaul, sans drag, plays a camp leader, an ex-gay named Mike. Perhaps Megan and her parents’ eventual acceptance of her sexuality inspired Ru’s Drag Race sign-off: “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an amen?”
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1998)
Dressed in what may be the least fabulous ensemble ever to drape his body, RuPaul played a witch judge in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. His few punchlines—“This is a court of law, not a Hallmark episode”—offer a preview of the sassy one-liners we’ve come to cherish.
The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
RuPaul plays a guidance counselor tasked with helping self-loathing Jan rebuild her self-confidence in the Brady Bunch spoof film. While Ru’s now-famous advice to channel one’s inner Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent (C.U.N.T.) wasn’t used, Drag Race fans will surely squeal when they see the debut of “You better werk!”
Sister, Sister (1995)
That RuPaul and Jackée were not given their own buddy sitcom following this scene in Sister, Sister remains one of television’s grandest travesties.
Ru’s first feature-film appearance was in Spike Lee’s gritty coming-of-age pic Crooklyn. Dressed in Foxy Brown drag, Ru’s character debut is made dancing in a Bed-Stuy bodega in Brooklyn, transfixing a young girl named Troy. After getting into a confrontation with another man at the grocery store, Ru’s character crassly shouts, “I ain’t no puta. I’m Connie, I keep my panties clean,” a line that Troy memorably repeats later in the film while jumping on her bed. Halleloo, indeed.