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Work it! RuPaul’s guide to finding fabulous

Want to tap into a unique philosophy on style and attitude? In RuPaul’s “Workin’ It!” the drag queen offers tips on fashion, beauty, style and confidence for both men and women. An excerpt.
/ Source: TODAY books

Want to tap into a unique philosophy on style and attitude? In RuPaul’s “Workin’ It!” the drag queen offers tips on fashion, beauty, style and confidence for both men and women. Here is an excerpt from chapter one. May the fierce be with you ...

Chapter one: It’s Your Attitude Quite Frankly

The frequency between you and meHaving a great sense of style is more than being able to put the right combination of clothing together to look clever and chic. It’s more than having a keen eye for home design and a knack for turning a simple party into an unforgettable event. Having a great sense of style also includes how well you’re able to love yourself, and the ease at which you balance your ego with your spirit. Being elegant and composed on the outside as well as the inside takes conscious effort and vigilant practice. Dealing with stress, disappointments, and the myriad other problems that plague modern life can be daunting, but not impossible if approached from a foundation of self-love. That foundation is firmly rooted in the knowledge of who you really are. And who you really are is a spiritual being having a human experience. This isn’t something you have to learn — this is something you have to remember. Because deep down, you already know it.

Your spirit is a frequency transmitting at this very moment. Some people have a strong, clear signal, and some people have a weak, obscured signal layered by many years of fear and self-loathing. A lifetime of being told you are ugly or stupid or unlovable will fade away when those layers are dissolved, and your ability to claim your greatness will emerge. Addictions, compulsions, and obsessions are a result of a blocked frequency. Clearing a path for your frequency to transmit freely is the key to revealing your own personal style, unique aesthetic, and inalienable freedom.

In these pages, I’ll share with you some of the daily practices that have helped me keep my frequency clear. Like a beacon of light ready to sear through the dark night of the soul, your frequency is lying in wait for your beck and call. No more hiding, no more dumbing down. Rise up and be fierce! Fierceness is a deliberate decision to be clear, precise, and on point. Rise up and be fearless, like a Maasai warrior. Stake your claim in this lifetime. Remember who you really are. Unleash the dragon and let — these — bitches — have — it!

Squirrel friendsSan Diego is known for its sunny skies and beautiful beaches, and when I was growing up there I’d go to the beach as often as I could. I loved it. It made me feel free. Getting there took quite a bit of effort because my neighborhood was so far inland that I’d have to catch several buses before I reached the shoreline. The people in my neighborhood rarely ventured out there. In fact, they didn’t leave our neighborhood much at all. They preferred to stay in the comfort of the hood, thank you very much. But at thirteen, I had a desire to explore, and no amount of bus hopping would deter me. I always thought it was weird that so few people from my neighborhood ever enjoyed the most celebrated feature of living in Southern California, but hey, that wasn’t gonna stop me from going. Upon my return from the beach, the neighborhood kids would get on my case by saying things like “Oh, you must think you white or something!” or “You think you better than us?”

This was a real eye-opener. I wasn’t prepared for the negative reaction my seaside odyssey would evoke. It’s then I realized: I’d have to learn to navigate around other people’s threatened egos — particularly when I didn’t buy into their small, limited view of the world. Back then, my choices were to dumb down or keep quiet and play possum. I learned to do both until I could get the hell out of there, which happened a couple years later when I moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

If you have goals and the stick-with-it-ness to make things happen, people will feel threatened by you, especially if your goals don’t include them. They believe that if you take a piece of pie, then that leaves less pie for them. Seeing you follow your dreams leaves them realizing that they’re not following theirs. In truth, there is unlimited pie for everyone!

I wish I could say that scenario didn’t repeat itself once I left San Diego County, but unfortunately it did, many times. From Atlanta to New York and back to Cali again. Every single time my star shined brighter or an opportunity arose for me, the current friends in my life would barely disguise the resentment in their eyes. I could feel it. I could smell it. Of course, me being the eternal pleaser, I’d offer a hand and say, “Come, go with me!” or “Maybe I could get you a ...,” but that trick never works. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even share the good news of my career developments anymore. Strangely, they seemed happier to hear of my disappointments. Reminds me of a bunch of king crabs in a pot of boiling water — as one climbs to freedom, the others pull it down. So I worked out a plan for this kind of reaction. I developed an exit strategy and put it into play when the time came. I know it may sound cold, but I am talking self-preservation, baby.

My attitude toward friendship has remained the same. I will support and encourage you with all the love in my heart, but if it’s not reciprocal, I gotta go. When the envy and negativity of others start to undermine your confidence, you have to find comfort in other places. If your friends are bitter about your success to the extent that they act out, don’t expect them to change. They aren’t evolved enough to understand that opportunity creates more opportunity. Move on. You’ll make new friends who will be drawn to your frequency, and you to theirs. You cannot thrive in toxic relationships. This is an unfortunate fact of life, and the sooner you recognize the tactics of the threatened ego, the faster you’ll be able to sidestep its emotional land mines.

Creating opportunitiesI was inspired to catch the bus to the San Diego beach because of my desire for beauty, my innate curiosity, and my tenacity to try something new. I approach my career in the same way. I’ve always loved music, laughter, textures, and color. I love movies, books, and wildly creative people. So, naturally, I set out to create a life for myself that included all these things. And I would have done so whether I was paid for it or not. In fact, for the first ten years of my career, I was barely able to pay rent. But attention was always paid to what inspired me. You never know where that next big idea is coming from. And you’ll never see it coming if your heart and mind are not open.

In 1996, I was asked to present at the first televised VH1 Fashion Awards. I happily agreed, but was soon disappointed when I read the script they had written for me. The tone of it was bitchy and mean — a trap most writers fall into when they’re trying to emulate “queen’s speak.” I told them that my shtick is sassy, not bitchy. It’s a fine line a lot of people have a hard time deciphering. I asked if I could have a crack at the script and they said yes. When I presented the award, the bit I wrote brought the house down. I can still see the faces of Tina Turner, Iman, and Elton John laughing hysterically. The next day, I got a call from VH1 offering me my own talk show.

Had I not taken a chance, the opportunity would never have come up. Sometimes you have to wait for opportunities, but most times you have to create them for yourself. If you’re waiting for an opportunity, make sure you’re prepared when it happens. Learn your craft, and know thyself. If you’re creating opportunities, you’re planting seeds, nurturing them, and then planting some more. When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent. Life requires that you reinvent yourself every seven years. Whether it’s in friendships, in business, or in how you see yourself.

Having reached local stardom in the underground club scene of Manhattan, I set my sights on conquering the mainstream pop world. My plan was simple: create a fun, club-kid image that wouldn’t frighten Middle America — more androgyny than drag. I naturally assumed the drag persona that had made me famous downtown wouldn’t play so well in Peoria. Months passed. I got a few gigs, and audiences seemed to like it all right, but their enthusiasm was nowhere near the jaw-dropping reaction I was used to getting when I performed in drag. So far, my mainstream reinvention was bombing. I needed a miracle.

Then I had an epiphany. Why couldn’t I become a mainstream pop star in drag? Who said it couldn’t be done? Was it all my own limited thinking that prevented me from moving forward? The answer was a resounding yes. All along I thought it had been the world blocking my way, but in reality it was me. I was the one schlepping yesterday’s limited view of myself into today. If I was willing to change my mind, I could change the world! With that realization, I felt the earth shift. It was as if ancient stone walls started to crumble and crash down, and the magical words open sesame billowed through my head. From that moment on, my life would never be the same. Not only did I go on to become the world’s most famous drag queen but I also discovered the secret of manifesting miracles by changing my mind.

First impressionsWe’re all familiar with the idea of making an entrance. It’s not just pertinent to the Broadway stage or the fashion runway. When faced with auditions, job interviews, first dates, or really nailing it in a twenty-minute presentation, the first impression means everything. And it may be the only chance you get. Being six foot four pretty much ensured that I wouldn’t go unnoticed walking into a room. But I need more than just my height to make a lasting impact. And you better believe there are bona fide techniques to make the best first impression. How do you want other people to see you — approachable, energetic, comfortable in your own skin?

First off, if you want to be in the flow you need to be present. When introduced to people, firmly lock hands with them and make direct eye contact as you shake. It says not only how present you are but also that you acknowledge their presence. Weak handshakes never go unnoticed. It says the person is not in the moment.

In a social setting, pay attention to other people when they’re speaking, while maintaining an awareness of everything that’s happening in the room. This is tricky because you don’t want to appear to be like those Hollywood types who are always looking past your shoulder for someone more fabulous. Yuck.

Know that energy attracts like energy. You’ll want to attract people who resonate a certain vibrancy. No one can be drawn to you if you’re not consciously transmitting a flow of energy. If that flow is reciprocal, the exchange can be intoxicating. Really connecting with someone on an energetic level is like a drug. This takes a certain amount of comfort in your own body. And it takes risk, because some of what you attract won’t interest you.

Tardy to the partyBeing late is never clever, cute, or cool. I used to procrastinate till the very last minute to make it to appointments. Even when I had plenty of time. I was always speeding through traffic with my heart pounding and putting everyone on the road in danger — myself included. I knew being late all the time made me look bad and was completely disrespectful to the people waiting on me, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop it. Finally I had to ask myself: What payoff am I getting from being late all the time? We humans aren’t motivated to do anything unless there’s some kind of payoff. I got honest and the answer came. I was selfishly addicted to the adrenaline rush and the thrill of trying to beat the clock. Once I blew the lid off myself, I started enforcing a no-tardiness rule. I’d leave for appointments early, even if it meant I’d have to arrive early and wait in the parking lot. The amount of respect you have for others is in direct proportion to how much respect you have for yourself.

You can start by not putting other people down. Gossip and saying negative things about other people is a result of your self-loathing projecting outward. Don’t feed into it! When you see that tourist standing in baggage claim, the one wearing the misguided, Day-Glo tracksuit, cut them some slack! You criticizing them is really the same as you criticizing yourself. Accept that misguided Day-Glo tracksuit and you will dodge a lethal boomerang. What you find fault with in other people is usually what’s bothering you about yourself. It’s an endless cycle if you let yourself fall into that negative pit.

Similarly, if people are saying nasty, hurtful things about you, don’t allow your ego to co-opt the situation by taking what they’re saying to heart. Know that what they’re saying has nothing to do with you. Again, it’s them projecting their own self-loathing and fear. Say this out loud: What other people think of me is none of my business.

May the fierce be with youGrowing up, I always thought the sulking poseurs wearing all black and smoking filterless cigarettes had their shit completely together. They looked so rough and tough and bored with everything. Eventually, I realized how hard they were working to have me and everybody else assume that. It was a full-time job to appear that cool. But it was all superficial. A lot of people who feigned fabulousness, like Edie Sedgwick and Sid Vicious, never learned in life to transcend the inner demons that would eventually destroy them. Theirs was all confidence on the outside. Chip away at those flawless facades, and you often find a very scared child with an insatiable emptiness.

Today, kindness is the new cool. Being kind illustrates the highest level of consciousness and deliberate optimism. Being kind says: I know the material world is an illusion and I choose to recognize the beauty, innocence, and The Source in everyone. Pollyanna knew she had a choice between the dark side and the bright side, but she consciously chose the latter because joy is far more interesting than pain. And it takes a great deal of strength to maintain.

I feel confident today because I’ve learned how to step outside of my pseudoself (my ego) and remember the truth of who I really am. My power isn’t contingent on my bank account, the car I drive, or the rings on my fingers. My power comes from The Source, The Force, or whatever you want to call it. It’s me, it’s you, it’s all around us. It doesn’t stop where you start. By remembering that on a moment-by-moment basis, I’m able to have fun with colors and textures as a child would, and the importance of superficial things becomes laughable.

Reprinted with permission from “Workin' It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style” by RuPaul (It Books).