Pop Culture & Performing Arts

The Essential RuPaul: Herstory, Philosophy & Her Fiercest Queens

The essential guide for fans of the most famous drag queen in the world. RuPaul—the most famous drag queen in the world, recording artist, cult television host, pop-cultural icon—is celebrated in this essential fan guide. Bursting onto the scene over two decades ago with the huge hit Supermodel of the World, RuPaul has been confounding critics to clear her own path over the many years since. Most recently, RuPaul has again become an unlikely pop-cultural icon by producing and starring in RuPaul’s Drag Race—a reality television series that judges the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent of the competing drag queens. Over seven seasons and numerous spin-off series (including All Stars and RuPaul’s Drag U), RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a cult global hit—fans know the catchphrases, the personalities, the catfights. The Essential RuPaul celebrates Ru’s history (or herstory, as she frames it) and philosophy ("If you can’t love yourself—how in the hell you gonna love someone else"), as well as profiling the most loved and reviled queens from her TV series. This is one for the true fans.

About The Author

John Davis is an Australian nightclub DJ and event promoter with a crazed fanaticism for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Constantly working with drag royalty, he has learned the true importance of these performers to mainstream culture as well as to queer history. John can easily recite the chronological order of elimination of every Drag Race contestant while debating the importance of a winner’s sewing skills over comedic ability.

Libby Vanderploeg is a Brooklyn-based illustrator. Her clients include The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Boston Globe.

  • Publish Date: September 13, 2016
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Performing Arts - Television - General
  • Publisher: Smith Street Books
  • Trim Size: 6-3/8 x 7-1/4
  • Pages: 96
  • US Price: $14.95
  • CDN Price: $19.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-925418-05-7


"The Essential RuPaul: Herstory, Philosophy & Fiercest Queens is unofficial guide to Mama Ru and her royal Drag Race court, offering quotes, RPDR history and examples of RuPaul’s unique philosophy. There’s also gorgeous illustrated profiles of Adore, Detox, Latrice, Bianca and many more—30 queens in all—from artist Libby Vanderploeg."
New Now Next

"'The Essential RuPaul' celebrates Ru's history (or herstory, as she frames it) and philosophy ("If you can't love yourself -- how in the hell you gonna love someone else"), as well as profiling the most loved and reviled queens from her TV series. 'The Essential RuPaul' is a 'must read' for the true fans, and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library biography collections in general, and LGBT supplemental studies reading lists in particular." 
–Midwest Book Review

"Author John Davis does a good job in bringing together a bedazzling lineup of performers. . . " 
–Dallas Voice

". . . [I]n the new book 'The Essential RuPaul' by John Davis, illustrations by Libby Vanderploeg, these queens have a lot to say." 
–The Washington Blade

"The iconic drag queen RuPaul (both real name and stage name) already has a long list of book-worthy achievements — so many, in fact, that it may have caused some of us to wonder: Where is the illustrated anthology of RuPaul quotes and the drag queens she inspired? Your RuPrayers have been answered."
New York Magazine 

"Her bearing, her stature, her very demeanor demand attention from all her subjects and in the new book The Essential RuPaul” by John Davis, illustrations by Libby Vanderploeg, these queens have a lot to say."
Q Syndicate

"A new book pays homage to the most famous drag queen in the world ― and recent Emmy winner ― RuPaul and the most popular queens to ever sashay onto ― and off of ― his hit show 'RuPaul’s Drag Race.'"

"The Essential RuPaul: Herstory, Philosophy & Her Fiercest Queens is a beautiful new book from super-fan John Davis with illustrations by Brooklyn-based artist Libby Vanderploeg.
It’s a fan guide filled with information on the legendary performer from his humble beginnings in drag to his life as an international superstar."
He Said Magazine 

"For devoted fans of the show and pop-culture enthusiasts, this book gives insight into the world of RuPaul — from her rise to celebrity and becoming a drag icon to her success hosting RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is the ultimate insider look into her philosophies and contemporaries."
E Magazine, The Entity Haute Couture 

Author Bookshelf: John Davis

Author Bookshelf: Libby VanderPloeg