When I was a young lad basking in a world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostwriter, and the latest R.L. Stine thriller within the confines of my Mayberry-esque hometown, a striking new entity entered my life in the form of RuPaul, who had just unleashed “Supermodel (You Better Work)” unto the world and was taking MTV by storm. Basically, I was in awe for more reasons than I could have counted at the time, maybe even some that foreshadowed my future to some degree. For days my sister (who’s younger) and I went back and forth on whether or not RuPaul was a man or a woman. My sister vehemently was on the side of RuPaul being a female imposter, while I was fooled beyond belief by the illusion and it took seeing an interview to get that RuPaul was in fact a card-carrying member of the XY Chromosome Club. No matter where Ru popped up, I was there (albeit shyly and slyly). It wasn’t until Fate (and Ru) intervened and gave the world RuPaul’s Drag Race, which was the culmination of this kindred connection I always had with him. It was here that I realized that it wasn’t the drag, or the catchy tunes and catchphrases RuPaul could weave with the deftness of a skilled hair specialist that drew me to him, but it was his personality and outlook on life in general that enthralled me. Whether he was gay, straight, male, female, or transgender, RuPaul was going to have a positive effect on me in some capacity.

But at that point it was unbeknownst to me just how much RuPaul would forever continue to fascinate me. He would give me the courage and strength to cope after coming out the closet (albeit not the way I’m sure he would have suggested), give me Life’s Bifocals to pay attention to the absurdity that is the world, and would challenge me to do better to improve my current situation in becoming a bonafide, confident individual. In short, I designated RuPaul as my official unofficial life coach, letting his words of truth and discovery be my stepping-stones to leading a productive and carefree life.

So with that personal attachment, I decided to search for Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style, Ru’s book he’s promoted since Season Two of Drag Race. While on that journey, I came across Ru’s first autobiography titled, Letting it All Hang Out, which chronicles RuPaul’s life up until the publication of the book back in 1995. I had no clue whatsoever this book existed, so I went with it first since it chronicled RuPaul’s life when I first discovered him as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lad. From his beginnings in San Diego, California to his cross journey trek to Atlanta, Georgia, Letting it All Hang Out gives us Ru’s own personal trek to the stars and beyond. Talking about his family life (his mother was a wonderfully, strong woman, who Lord knows most gay kids would probably would have clung for dear life while growing up gay), his quest for superstardom (RuPaul and the U-Hauls was a hilarious chapter of his life), and the rock-bottom moments in his life, you see the building blocks of the modern RuPaul, which gives even more credence to every inspirational quote ever uttered from the Supermodel of the World’s mouth. RuPaul even recounted the birthplaces of some his signature mantras (such as, “Everybody say ‘Love!'” to “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else? Can I get an ‘Amen’ up in here?!”), which are verbal foundations that have been fixtures in my life ever since I’ve heard them. He is the epitome of being true to oneself and didn’t let certain forces of nature (be it Hollywood, personal issues and friends, etc) deter his drive to achieve his goals in life. Again, he’s a freaking inspiration.

The memoir was written honestly and confidently, and you could almost hear Ru’s voice as you read his words, which are still echoing into today’s generation through Drag Race, What’s The Tee with Michelle Visage, and in any of Ru’s recent interviews. Now RuPaul doesn’t get down and dirty when it comes to every aspect of his past, but he’s transparent enough for the reader to understand his convictions about certain aspects of life and how he tackled them. Classy is the theme throughout Letting it All Hang Out, and even when RuPaul talks about several low points in his life, or uses some choice colorful words, they come off as genuine and not shock value filler. Ru also gives his favorite lists throughout the book, along side early photos of him from baby to the adult years ending in 1994-1995 when the book was originally published. It’s futile to take Ru’s declaration of being famous as nothing less than serious, because every opportunity he got, he not only utilized it, he owned it and used it as a platform for his next step on his road to success. How can you not give anyone with that ravenous of a drive the utmost respect?

Letting it All Hang Out is a quick and must read for any fan of RuPaul and even RuPaul’s Drag Race, because Ru isn’t just sprouting catchphrases out of his ass. It’s his way of life and it’s not only addictive, but it’s also refreshingly influential. Even though the book just turned twenty years-old, it’s still just as relevant as it was during its first printing. So as that Mayberry-esque lad has grown into a productive man of many talents, RuPaul has remained an angel in disguise. And Letting it All Hang Out was the confirmation of his role in my life.