For many of us, RuPaul has been a staple in pop culture, seemingly forever. But the 56-year-old icon’s journey to stardom was filled with highs and lows that made him the delightfully candid man he is today.

“Everything came to a screeching halt when I turned 28,” he told Entertainment Weekly in their June 23 issue. Featured for their LGBTQ special issue, the drag queen who paved the way for so many people in Hollywood talked about his humble beginnings as a teen at the School for Performing Arts in Atlanta, to a still-relevant television host today.

“I moved to L.A. because nothing was happening for me,” he said about his moving around in the late ’80s to find work in showbiz. “I thought, ‘Could it be that this isn’t meant for me?’ It was a horrible existence. But I decided I was going to shave my legs, shave my chest, put some titties in, and go back to New York and give those bitches exactly what they want from me. And over night, I became a star of downtown.”

“I decided I wasn’t going to do black hooker. I was going to do glamazon supermodel. And one day, my friend DJ Larry Tee called me and said, ‘Ru, I’ve noticed you’re doing a supermodel look now. I’ve written down some lyrics to a song I need you to hear this,'” which would later become his his mega-dance hit “Supermodel (You Better Work)”.

His big break was in B-52’s “Love Shack” where he made a cameo, and in the years since he’s starred in films, hosted a talk show and been an advocate for issues directly affecting the LGBTQ community.

“My next act has to do with passing on my point of view. I’m writing a book. I’m doing lectures. I’m trying to be a curator to my philosophy: learning to love yourself. That’s what it’s about. Maybe I’m just doing it with a pair of cha-cha heels.”

To read the timeline of RuPaul’s amazing career, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.