You've been an icon for decades and have been doing Drag Race for several years, but you're getting mainstream recognition and now you have an Emmy. Does that change how you think about yourself or the show?
"No, no. My rewards system was not based on the status quo, and my goals didn’t have to do with everyone in the status quo accepting me. My prize was being able to live my life freely and to be creative on my own terms. So getting an award that is part of the status quo doesn't change that, because it was never the holy grail for me. If that was my goal in what I did, I would have given up a long time ago—because, you know, all those years ago they weren't gonna give me any awards. Because I don't represent the matrix*." *The matrix is something Ru brings up a lot. The matrix is everything you're taught to accept without question—anything from a 9-to-5 job to gender identity. Things like drag and punk rock fuck with the matrix; according to Ru, once you realize you're in the matrix, you can take things less seriously and start to have fun.
You've always reached for what you wanted to reach for, regardless of what anyone else said was normal or exciting, and All Stars this season touches on the idea of legacy. What do you want your legacy to be?
"Well, my legacy is truly the girls who have launched their careers from our show. Drag Race has launched the careers of over 100 queens and they are working right now, around the world, inspiring young people in small towns with their stories—and their courage. I've been doing this for a long time, and I didn't know this would be my legacy, but you got to stay in the game long enough to see what happens. And I think that has been my greatest asset—my stick-with-it-ness."
You talk a lot about your "inner saboteur" wanting to thwart you at these different points. How do you know when it’s your inner saboteur talking?
"Oh, you know because it's a negative voice! A saboteur has very few tactics. The tactics always involve getting you alone, getting you away from other people or alienating you. So that's when you know. Also, when you incorporate meditation into your daily practice, you understand what your purpose on this planet is. The purpose is to experience humanity. Right, wrong, bad, good, black, white, male, female, everything."
You do meditation, yoga, and hiking every morning. When in your life did you start those practices?
"I started these practices when I… quit doing drugs. [Laughs.]"
Right! I’ve heard you describe that as a tail that grows back, and you do these practices to keep the tail from growing back.
"Yes, yes. It really does. It's like Groundhog Day where every day I forget what my purpose is and you have to restate your mission purpose and understand what you're here to do. It's easy to get sidetracked by a magazine article or a billboard or something on television, or someone at your church or the PTA has an agenda for you. There are so many influences out there to sort of push you in that direction, so it's important every morning to stake your claim on what it is you're here to do."
Read the full interview at GQ.