Alice In Chains’ William DuVall Reveals That Drag Race Host RuPaul Was A Famous Figure In The Underground Punk Scene

During a recent conversation with Metal Hammer, Alice in Chains co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist William DuVall recalled the ’80s when he used to perform with his old band Neon Christ at the punk rock scene of Atlanta and revealed that the Drag Race host and great LGBTQIA+ icon RuPaul would come to their gigs.

William DuVall was born in Washington, D.C in 1967 but at the age of 14, he moved to Atlanta with his mother and step-father which contributed immensely to DuVall’s career as a musician. His music career started in the early ’80s in Atlanta’s punk rock scene and he co-founded Neon Christ in 1983.

William said that the band would perform anywhere because they wanted to ‘play for everybody everywhere.’ Neon Christ was specifically famous for its politically themed songs which contributed to the increase of the band’s fame. The band used this popularity to support charitable causes such as freeing the musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Around that time, there was someone else who was studying performing arts in the city and building his future, and his name was RuPaul. As Neon Christ would often perform at Atlanta’s famous LGBTQIA+ venue The Celebrity Club, which hosted both punk rock gigs and drag cabaret nights, DuVall often crossed paths with RuPaul.

DuVall said that it was very inspiring to play in The Celebrity Club as it made them very happy to see how music encouraged ‘countercultural mixes.’ Apparently, one of the people in the audience was RuPaul, who DuVall says had ‘recognized something he liked’ in Neon Christ’s music. In fact, DuVall said that they have tapes in which RuPaul’s voice can be heard shouting at the band from the audience.

DuVall described RuPaul as a hard-working ‘industrious guy at a very young age’ who worked very hard to come to the point that he is right now. He said that he feels happy and proud to know that they both ‘came out of the same pond’ and that he made it and stated that ‘his story is a triumph.’ He finally said that he wasn’t surprised at all with RuPaul’s success as it was clear that he would make it even back then.

Here’s what DuVall said about Neon Christ’s gigs at the LGBTQ+ venue The Celebrity Club:

We wanted to play for everybody, everywhere. We’d play anywhere that would have us. Our gigs at the Celebrity Club would have different countercultural mixes: you’d have the punk rockers coming to see us and mixing with the gay crowd and the drag crowd. Everybody was: ‘Hey, we like high energy music,’ and we were so committed to our thing. I think people recognize that level of commitment no matter where you’re coming from. And RuPaul was part of that scene.”

This is how he described RuPaul:

“A really industrious guy at a really young age… just like we were. He was promoting himself as a superstar way before anyone knew who he was. He was plastering his flyers all around the city – we were wondering what kind of glue he was using, cos I swear the flyers he put up in 1985 were still there in 1995!

We were doing the same thing in terms of promoting ourselves, and in terms of that and the energy and the music, I think he recognized something he liked. He would come to our showsthere are tapes of him screaming at us from the audience. We really respected him and think he respected us.”

And concluded his words by saying:

“He came out of the same pond that we did, and he made it. His story is a triumph. I wasn’t surprised at all, cos boy you saw it back then.”

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