Every time he bats his eyelashes, RuPaul makes a political statement. And he's done a lot of lash-batting the past few years -- particularly over the gay-marriage debate. "It started when Bush got into office," says RuPaul, the 6-foot-4 female illusionist whose drag-queen anthem "Supermodel (You Better Work)" was a dance-club smash in 1993. "There's this ignorance that is prevalent in the way people in Washington think. I don't even know if they even really think. They only do what suits their overall purpose."
With a purpose all his own, RuPaul is on an anticonservative crusade. His cross-country tour includes a headlining gig at Saturday's Cleveland Pride Parade, Rally & Festival, where he'll strut in his glittery garb and spiked stilettos with a new repertoire, which includes the sassy "Are You Man Enough (to Be My Man)?," "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous," and "My Love Sees No Color," about same-sex marriages. "People have had enough," he declares. "[Right-wing politics] has stirred a lot of old vampires to wake up, come out of hiding, and make some changes."
Except at the festival. Now in its 16th year, it starts with the traditional 1 p.m. parade of bands, "flaggots," and convertibles of queens moving from Euclid Avenue west to East 9th Street, then north to Voinovich Park. There, an estimated 10,000 people will hear 15 minutes' worth of speeches.
At 2 p.m., the real party begins with more than 130 vendors, DJs, a children's pavilion, and the all-important beer garden. An hour later, the main stage unleashes performances by local rockers Rude Staff Checkers and Anne E. DeChant, lesbi-fave comedian Kate Clinton, and the politically charged RuPaul. "I don't say I'm gay or mention my sexuality, or my religion, or my politics," he says. "I am being myself. Which is the most political thing one person could ever do.
"Variety is the spice of life. That's why I want to throw my hat into the arena, and say, Look, let's shake this shit up some."