Viva Net glam!

Even drag queens are getting rich off dot-com mania, as RuPaul becomes the latest Internet celebrity spokesperson.

Published December 8, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

When we last checked in on RuPaul, New York's inimitable drag queen diva, she was serving as a spokesperson for M.A.C. lipstick -- specifically, a yummy little color called Viva Glam! Dressed in skintight PVC and platforms, she appeared on catwalks and advertisements in honor of the makeup line, and the proceeds went to AIDS awareness.

But that was a few years ago, and times have changed. Starting today, RuPaul will also be the new spokesperson for a company called WebEx, the "leading service provider of multimedia infrastructure for real-time collaboration." (If you want that in English: WebEx provides the backend and interface for online meetings.)

It may seem a stretch to imagine a 6-foot-7 drag queen as the celebrity spokesperson for an Internet software company, but hey, this is 1999, and WebEx just received $25 million in funding. According to WebEx press releases, almost all of that money will go straight into the company's ad campaign; and therefore some chunk of it, we can only assume, to RuPaul. The ad campaign's tag line: "Meetings are such a drag." Get it?

The idea of being a dot-com spokesdiva hardly evokes sequin-and-stiletto glamour, but who can blame RuPaul for cashing in on the Internet hype? After all, she's not the only celebrity spokesperson who's currently benefiting from Internet ads and dot-com endorsements. Internet companies with fat marketing budgets are rushing for celebrity faces to create those consumer-friendly ad campaigns; and the celebrities, not surprisingly, aren't saying no.

Alanis Morrissette set the standard earlier this year with her endorsement of, receiving 650,000 shares of stock at 33 cents per share in exchange for letting the company sponsor her tour (the total value of those shares today: $23.4 million). Whoopie Goldberg, the new spokesperson for, has followed Morrissette's example: According to the New York Times, she's accepted a large chunk of stock in exchange for singing the praises of the company's "online gift currency." (The company is blowing roughly half of its $16 million in funding on this ad campaign).

Even famed director Francis Ford Coppola is cashing in. In a series of holiday TV spots, Coppola touts, an online seller of (what else?) bags and backpacks. According to the ads,'s celebrity spokesperson carries bottles of wine around in his tote. And perhaps, though we're just guessing about this, generous checks as well?

By Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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