Courtney Love talks ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ appearance: ‘I think drag and punk come from the same place’

Lyndsey Parker
Yahoo Music

RuPaul once said, “Drag is my punk-rock statement.” So it makes sense that he would enlist Courtney Love to be a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race this week. Love has been singing the groundbreaking reality show’s praises for years, and on Thursday, the punk-rock queen even got to see two queens lip-sync for their lives to Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.”

“I think that drag and punk come from the same place — a place of living your truth and breaking the rules,” Love tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Drag queens aren’t afraid to push boundaries every day, and you have to push boundaries in punk too.”

In the past, Love has even credited the drag community for shaping her fashion aesthetic and fearless attitude, telling Gay Times that her “freshman year of learning how to be a rock star was just hanging around drag queens.” Ahead of her Drag Race appearance, she tells Yahoo, “I’ve always appreciated the art of drag. Girls can learn to be themselves and follow what makes them happy and uniquely them. They can learn that you don’t need to fit inside a box to be accepted, and you’re the happiest when you’re doing what you love — not necessarily what everyone else is doing.”

David Grohl, RuPaul, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Francis Bean Cobain, and Krist Novoselic at the 1993 VMAs. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
David Grohl, RuPaul, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Francis Bean Cobain, and Krist Novoselic at the 1993 VMAs. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Love’s friendship with RuPaul dates back to the ’90s, when a famous photo of her late husband Kurt Cobain and Nirvana hanging with RuPaul at the MTV Video Music Awards caused a stir. The encounter even led to Nirvana making a cameo on RuPaul’s holiday special just a few months before Cobain died. (Interestingly, Love’s Drag Race appearance took place on the anniversary of Cobain’s passing, April 5.)


RuPaul once told AV Club, “I literally met them on the step-and-repeat red carpet at the MTV Awards, and Kurt Cobain told me, ‘You know, we went to see you perform in Seattle, but you had already performed and left by the time we got there.’ … Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love and the other kids in that band loved [drag], and you could see it in their faces when they’re taking the pictures. They’re not going boo, or it’s not like a joke. It’s like, ‘This is f***ing cool.’ And they were so cool about it that [Nirvana] came and appeared on my Christmas special that year.”

Since then, Love has become a bona fide LGBTQ icon and a fan favorite of punk-rock Drag Race alumni like Season 4 winner Sharon Needles (who once described her singing style to Yahoo as “more Courtney Love than Courtney Act”) and Season 6’s Adore Delano (who told Noisey it “was really empowering to watch [Courtney] as a little kid, and I’ve loved her ever since”).

And the feeling is clearly mutual. “I love so many things about the show!” Love says of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “I love watching the girls transform into all these unique characters — totally different sides of themselves.”

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