“Your vulnerability is where your real power is.”
RuPaul Andre Charles is best known for his work establishing and hosting the 12-time Emmy Award-winning television franchise RuPaul’s Drag Race. While RuPaul’s work as a media mogul has made him the undisputed “Queen of Drag”, the performer’s sordid past serves as the inspiration for his newest literary endeavor, a tell-all memoir titled The House of Hidden Meanings.
The House of Hidden Meanings will explore Ru’s life leading up to the establishment of the Drag Race empire, following the queen from the streets of 1970s San Diego, to the punk and drag scenes of Atlanta, Georgia and New York City.
The memoir follows Charles through his difficult upbringing before charting a course through Ru’s tumultuous teenage years, where the performer came to terms with his sexuality before dedicating his life to the art form of drag.
Later passages in the book tackle similarly heavy topics, such as RuPaul’s struggle with addiction and his subsequent sobriety, which the drag performer was able to achieve with the help of his now-husband Georges LeBar.
In an interview with Vogue, RuPaul described The House of Hidden Meanings as “a very American story”.
“I wanted to show how you can not only navigate a life on this planet, but also create something that isn’t just for you—something that’s exploratory and adventurous and selfless.”
Unlike RuPaul’s other books (GuRu, Workin’ It!, Letting It All Hang Out), the upcoming memoir focuses entirely on the first 40 years of the media mogul’s life, ending well before Drag Race was even a twinkle in Ru’s eye. Instead, the memoir focuses heavily on the real-life struggles that Charles faced before becoming ‘Supermodel of the World’.
In what Vogue refers to as a “raw, introspective tone,” The House of Hidden Meanings features passages discussing RuPaul’s teenage drug use, as well as how Charles lost his virginity. However, Vogue suggests that it is not RuPaul’s candour that makes the memoir such a great read, but instead, it is RuPaul’s “remarkable way with words.”
“I can’t determine whether people are going to accept it or understand it,” RuPaul told Vogue. “But it was very cathartic for me to just get it all out. I feel like I’ve kept up a poker face and held my cards close to my chest my whole life, and I still do that, because it’s a protection mechanism.”
Charles goes on to describe how terrifying it was to share such intimate details about his past in The House of Hidden Meanings.
“It’s pretty scary—although the scary part is really this part, where I’m actually having to talk about it,” said RuPaul. “But I’ve always carried the truth of who I am inside of me.
“It’s one of my navigational tools in life: to remember who you are, and then share it with everyone—especially in a world where people are sometimes looking to tear you apart and use your kindness against you, to say you’re weak. But the opposite is true. Your vulnerability is where your real power is,” Charles concluded.
In an Instagram video announcing the memoir, RuPaul says: “After two and a half years, it’s finally here. My memoir. I’m so excited and so anxious at the same time, because I really reveal so much of myself. You know, this world today feels so hostile and [is] such a scary place to be vulnerable. But I did it. So get ready.”
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The House of Hidden Meanings by RuPaul Andre Charles is set to hit shelves on March 5, 2024.
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