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RuPaul’s Sobriety Helps Him Stay Grounded: ‘When You're Stoned, It's Harder to Keep a Balance’ (Exclusive)

The Emmy-winning host and executive producer of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' and author of a new memoir, 'The House of Hidden Meanings,' says, "the truth was always there, no matter how high I got"

<p>Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty</p> RuPaul, Emmy-winning host and executive producer of RuPaul

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

RuPaul, Emmy-winning host and executive producer of RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul Charles — at this point in the 63-year-old’s life, after 24 Emmys for his hit show Drag Race, it’s just RuPaul — has lived by a few maxims he picked up over the course of his expansive life.

“Don’t take life too seriously.” His drama teacher in his San Diego high school gave him that lesson. “You’re born naked and the rest is drag.” This was passed down to him in the 80s, when he was getting his professional start as a club performer in Atlanta, via a drag queen named Lakesha Lucky.

"You're too goddamn sensitive and reminisce too much." He got that one from his late mother, who died in 1993 and whom the neighborhood kids called "Mean Miss Charles."

Related: How RuPaul Became a ‘Supermodel’ — and How His Mom ‘Mean Miss Charles’ Reacted (Exclusive)

“I learned she was actually telling on herself,” RuPaul says. “But I’ve learned how to use it as a blessing rather than a curse because that sensitivity shaped my intuition and my instinct.” He adds, “The reminiscing, that I could probably do without.”

<p>Courtesy of RuPaul</p> RuPaul with his mother, Ernestine, as an infant in 1960, with his father Irving holding his cousin

Courtesy of RuPaul

RuPaul with his mother, Ernestine, as an infant in 1960, with his father Irving holding his cousin

RuPaul has been reminiscing a lot lately — about his fractured childhood in San Diego, his metamorphosis from David Bowie-esque performance artist to glamazon pop culture icon, his long road to sobriety from drugs and alcohol and successful 30-year relationship with husband Georges LeBar— and the proof is in the pages of his new memoir, The House of Hidden Meanings. “I’ve been revealing so much of myself,” he says softly.

When asked if that’s that a comfortable place for him to be he responds quickly: “Oh hell no!”

Related: RuPaul Launches Online Book Marketplace and Book Club: ‘Knowledge Is Power’ (Exclusive Interview)

Nonetheless, he says he's a "seeker" and is happy to keep talking — while remaining skeptical. "My mother was very skeptical," he says. "I can be that way too, not trusting of situations. I'm very, very cautious with people. Those were my mother's attributes."

He says his father, Irving, was the opposite. His parents divorced when he was 7 years old. "He was very charismatic, and very superficial. You know, I think a lot of people who might have met me over the years may think, 'Oh, he's superficial. And I am to a certain degree."

But, RuPaul adds, he's no extrovert. "I learned how to be an extrovert. My real self would probably shock them. Because I'm more of an observer and I'm always looking for clues. I'm always looking for what lies beneath."

Sober since 1999, RuPaul says his sobriety has allowed him to acknowledge the "lightness and darkness" in his emotional makeup. "In sobriety, one looks for a balance and equilibrium. And when you're stoned, it's harder to keep a balance."

He adds that his spirituality has helped him stay grounded. "Through meditation and prayer, I have found that middle ground." It's also where he finds truth: The truth about his childhood, his relationships, his identity.

<p>John Shearer/Getty</p> Georges LeBar and RuPaul attend the 71st Emmy Awards on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

John Shearer/Getty

Georges LeBar and RuPaul attend the 71st Emmy Awards on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

"There is a thing about being high," he says. "You can never quite get high enough to obliterate the truth. The truth was always there, no matter how high I got."

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