The House of Hidden Meanings: A Memoir

Dey Street. Mar. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780063263901. $29.99. MEMOIR
RuPaul’s memoir is the polar opposite of his breezy 1995 autobiography, Letting It All Hang Out. In this book, the drag superstar, Tony Award winner and 12-time Emmy winner, bares his soul about his dysfunctional family and the battles he has fought. He eloquently excavates old memories of growing up in San Diego with three sisters and a flinty and hot-tempered mother. Although he learned independence and self-sufficiency from his mother, she often told him (even when he was as young as five) that he was too sensitive and pensive. When his father left the family, his mother was bedridden for years. At 15, he moved in with one of his older sisters and her husband in Atlanta. By age 21, he had found supportive friends and experimented with non-glamorous, thrift-store drag items that were more punk than disco. After several attempts to live in New York City (often couch surfing or sleeping in parks), RuPaul reinvented himself and found success with the 1993 single “Supermodel (You Better Work).”
VERDICT A probing, emotionally raw memoir that’s an introspective examination of RuPaul’s family and the issues he confronted before embracing self-love.
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