In 1993, when co-presenting an award at the MTV Video Music Awards, RuPaul and comedian Milton Berle bumped heads onstage. The RuPaul Milton Berle exchange was pretty icky, as Ru jabbed Berle for wearing an adult diaper.
While on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live last night alongside American singer, Real Housewife (and now author) Erika Jayne, Ru was asked a question about the moment by a fan, and he answered with a lesson that acts as a teachable moment for us all.
Ru shared, “Years since that happened I realized I allowed my ego to get bruised by what happened backstage and I took it out on the stage, which is not a good thing.”
Something did happen backstage between him and Berle, an encounter that is talked about in Ru’s 1995 memoir Lettin’ It All Hang Out. Apparently the RuPaul Milton Berle spat started when Berle was inappropriate to RuPaul backstage, attempting to grab his ass and fake breasts. (RuPaul has since said, “Of course, what I should have done backstage is told him ‘Get your dirty hands off of me, you motherfucker!'”)
On the show Ru explains that he and Jayne went to the same high school, where a teacher taught them both a valuable lesson he’d forgotten in that moment.
RuPaul shares, “He taught us you go out onstage and you leave all your baggage backstage. You don’t bring it onstage. So today I would tell myself back then to work that out with a therapist before you bring it out onstage.”
Cohen next asks Ru if he regrets the spat, to which he answers, “Yes, I regret it. I do regret what happened.”
It’s nice seeing RuPaul so open here with these sensitive questions. He says, “I acted my ass out on television and around the world.”
He also explained that while living in the West Village he overheard people dishing about what happened the next day.
“But I came through. Lots of therapy,” RuPaul says.