When I was in middle school my parents blocked VH1 and MTV from our television channels. I would sneak up to my room where we kept one of our older TV's, and figured out how to watch the channels that were blocked from our cable. Pop Up Video, The RuPaul Show, and Real World were my absolute favorites. It was probably the most rebellious thing I had ever done up to that point.
I should mention I was also being teased quite a bit during this time period. I went to a Catholic grade school, and was one of the few girls who chose to wear Dickie uniform pants in the winter instead of skirts - (we lived in Buffalo! The bus stop was cold! I still don't understand why it was such a big deal?!) This combined with the fact that I was one of those scholar athletes who never got into trouble, and cut my hair extremely short in the 4th grade made me a target.
Even back then, I knew then that I would be an artist - but didn't understand in what capacity. What I did know, was that I loved feeling like I had a secret relationship with characters that I was discovering on those forbidden TV shows. Finally, I saw characters reflecting something back at me that I recognized in myself.
I remember distinctly watching a Duran Duran Pop Up video for their song Rio. I was in awe of all the storylines, and the thought that went into creating the band members beautiful technicolored day dreams. Pop Up video allowed the audience to hear the stories behind the artists' vision. They were making their own worlds to live in, the same way I yearned to bring my daydreams to life.
RuPaul also started to captivate me at this time. I was the tallest girl in my class, and there was not a day that went by I didn't hear something negative about it from the other kids. Little did I know how much this beautiful radiant human being would become a beacon of hope for my self-doubt. I didn't know what a drag queen was, but I knew he was beautiful to me.