By Brandon Voss
Originally published on Advocate.com September 03 2014 1:10 PM ET
There’s no place like home for Randy Rainbow. That’s where the wickedly talented YouTube personality and New York cabaret host creates custom-made sequined replicas of the iconic ruby slippers that Judy Garland clicked thrice in The Wizard of Oz — complete with bejeweled bows handcrafted according to the original MGM blueprints. After gaining Internet notoriety by faking outrageous phone conversations with controversial celebrities, Rainbow explains why, when it comes to Dorothy, he’s now a friend with benefits.
The Advocate: After dating Mel Gibson and queening out at Chick-fil-A in your YouTube videos, could this ruby slipper venture be the gayest thing you’ve ever done?
Randy Rainbow: Yeah, I really think I’ve reached a new level of gay with this one. And I couldn’t be more pleased about it. Next thing you know, I’ll be making dresses for John Travolta.
What inspired you to start making and selling these ruby slippers as a side business?
First and foremost, I’ve always been a Wizard of Oz junkie and have wanted to own a pair of ruby slippers since I was a little girl — I mean, boy. When I was 9, I made my parents hot-glue red sequins onto an old pair of my mother’s high heels for me to wear, which I’m sure was a proud moment for them. Cut to a few months ago when I was hosting a weekly show at a gay bar here in New York. One night, my Broadway and Golden Girls references became so profuse that one of our regular audience members joked that I could only be gayer if I were wearing ruby slippers. Accepting his challenge, I made myself a pair and wore them to the show the next week — and every week thereafter. I would also wear them around town after the show, and they were such a hit that people started requesting their own. Subsequently, I opened a shop on etsy.com, and they’ve been selling like Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies ever since. That’s another Broadway reference.
What kind of person buys ruby slippers?
The originals from the movie are so iconic that I find almost everyone has some kind of nostalgic or emotional connection to them. I think everyone secretly wants a pair. Bootsie LeFaris, a popular New York drag star, was one of my first customers. And I recently made a pair for RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio, who’s a big fan. They’re obviously big sellers with the gays and the queens, but the majority of my clients have actually been brides. I’ve made them for weddings, bridal showers, and engagement parties for women all over the world.
They aren't just for display? These boots were made for walking?
I highly encourage people to wear them everywhere. That’s more than half the fun, I think. They’re extremely comfortable, surprisingly durable, and appropriate for any occasion, be it a wedding, a costume party, a bar mitzvah, the Academy Awards, your cousin’s quinceañera… I wear them to vacuum.
Tell me about your construction process. Set the scene. I want to picture you in your apartment like an Disney cartoon cobbler, surrounded by helpful animated birds.
It’s super relaxing — like knitting. I will sometimes have Wizard of Oz on for added inspiration, but there are no animated birds. As with most of my projects, it’s just me, alone in my apartment with my cat. I’m like the Taylor Swift of gay YouTube videos and ruby slippers.
Find out more about Randy's Ruby Slippers here.