For those of you who haven’t heard (which means you did not watch the newest season of Drag Race in its entirety, which, in turn, means you really need to rethink your priorities) RuPaul has recently come out with a new book: Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style. In this multi-part series I will attempt to integrate some of the many profound insights contained in this rosy tome into my own ways of interacting with and thinking about the world. Come, friends, follow me on my mystical journey to attain Ru-vana.
I’ve always been intrigued by people who are able to have a totally practical relationship with their own bodies. Usually, they seem to be professionals whose careers depend in some way on their physical attributes: dancers, ultimate fighters, and of course our beloved Supermodel of the World. On the flip side though, there are also those who place paramount importance on the spiritual and intellectual self like religious ascetics, eccentric geniuses, and, again, RuPaul (see part one for more about his philosophy on the denial of the ego.)
The rest of us, myself included, occupy a kind of psychophysical grey area. We go about our lives drinking, smoking, and indulging in the occasional extravagant meal, only sporadically pausing to wonder if the pleasures of our consumption equal the satisfaction of the other, more disciplined half’s strictly regimented self-denial. The benefits we gain from acquisition are obvious, whereas the joys of elimination seem to be a far more dubious.
Workin’ It addresses these anxieties in a surprisingly detailed account of Ru’s first foray into colon cleansing. Airing one’s “dirty laundry” (i.e. “butt junk”), and in front of a medical professional no less, can be a strange if oddly attractive proposition. “Add to all of that the embarrassment our culture has with anything to do with bodily functions. Yes, I’m talking about ‘shit shame.’ I’m pretty sure that shit shame is what kept me (and most people) from doing a ‘high colonic’ before. But it was the promise of erasing my past from the inside out that kept me intrigued.”
Upon closer examination, we find that “shit shame” in both a literal and figurative sense is not necessarily a negative thing. The thought of our physical and emotional baggage can be shameful, even repulsive, yes, but it is also the most effective incentive towards renewal and reinvention. Nietzsche called this drive to reexamine our assumptions the “intellectual conscience.” Not to be confused with the residual guilt instilled in us by religious dogma, the intellectual conscience is the tool which allows us to transcend the values handed down to us by society and achieve something great and entirely personal. Or, in Ru’s case, “A rootie-tootie fresh-and-fruity booty!”
Next Week: A Life in Pictures, or A Look Inside the Closet of a Character Illusionist