Ruby Dickulous: Austin's Comedy Jewel

October 29, 2023

Photo Credit

Ruby Dickulous


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez

Content Warning

The accompanying podcast discusses suicide. If you or someone you care for is having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988.

I’d like to begin this recap of my con­ver­sa­tion with drag queen Ruby Dick­u­lous by thank­ing her grand­moth­er. Austin would be less inter­est­ing if her grand­moth­er hadn’t blessed the drag name Ruby Dick­u­lous when Ruby was final­ly ready to unleash her­self on the stages of the Austin drag queen scene in 2012. We also pre­fer the final choice over the tongue-twister Ruby Ridicu­lous. As Ruby recounts her grandmother’s reac­tion to which name would win: Ruby Dick­u­lous – because I like the dick close to Ruby.”

And now for Ruby’s backstory. 

Roller­coast­er” just about cap­tures it (and not the must be under 4 feet tall” kind either). While Ruby quick­ly declares that my whole fam­i­ly was fun­ny, out­ra­geous peo­ple,” there’s also a dark cloud of shame that seemed ever-present. She grew up in Cor­pus Christi, but her fam­i­ly moved every three years or so because of her alco­holic father, and the peri­od­ic need to escape what­ev­er cir­cum­stance he’d man­aged to land him­self in. Lay­er onto that oth­er fam­i­ly secrets, such as her mother’s step-father who secret­ly cross-dressed – the afore­men­tioned grand­moth­er who was a drag queen – and for Ruby, the ulti­mate secret while grow­ing up: being gay. 

The 80s and the 90s were a dif­fer­ent time in Amer­i­ca, and cer­tain­ly Texas, when it comes to being gay, but the con­cept of being a drag queen wasn’t for­eign to Ruby’s moth­er. One dis­tinct mem­o­ry Ruby shares is of play­ing baton with a PVC pipe on the farm and mak­ing her moth­er watch her per­for­mances. After one such per­for­mance, her moth­er declared, You love to high kick and swish your hips around, you’ll make a good drag queen one day.” It wasn’t until 2012 that mom’s pre­dic­tion came to fruition.

My whole family was funny, outrageous people
Ruby Dickulous

Between then and now? The foun­da­tion was being laid. 

In high school, Ruby played both foot­ball and per­formed in the­ater (even win­ning an award for UIL all-star and all-star cast) because in a small town, you could get away with both. After grad­u­at­ing, there were dal­liances with per­for­mance, and act­ing was def­i­nite­ly what she dreamed of pur­su­ing. But she didn’t. In fact, in an effort to pro­tect her, her par­ents said you dream real­ly big. And we’re real­ly wor­ried that if you don’t achieve those dreams, that you would be real­ly depressed.” Which per­fect­ly encap­su­lates the life­long strug­gle that Ruby has had: Look­ing back now, I nev­er believed in myself [which] was the biggest problem.”

It cer­tain­ly wasn’t for lack of tal­ent. Between the award-win­ning the­ater per­for­mances, being hired on the spot for a Cor­pus Christi radio job by the leg­endary jour­nal­ist and TV pio­neer Vann Kennedy (who also gave Wal­ter Cronkite his first job), and land­ing the role of gay cor­re­spon­dent” on the 101x Jason and Deb show in the ear­ly 2000s, suc­cess seemed immi­nent. The cul­mi­na­tion of her then efforts was being asked by Austin Pride to host an event in 2012.

Drag brunch­es were occur­ring across the coun­try, but Austin had yet to have one, so Ruby asked Austin Pride to let her pro­duce and host the first ever Austin drag brunch. Things are look­ing promis­ing, right? The cloud, how­ev­er, had per­sist­ed in fol­low­ing Ruby. Whether it be in the form of alco­holism, DUIs, wrecks, or the irony of being run over by a drunk dri­ver (with the met­al plates to prove it), crip­pling addic­tion would not make that 2012 the debut she hoped for. While the Austin Pride drag brunch was the offi­cial debut of Ruby Dick­u­lous, her mem­o­ries of her com­ing out event are near­ly non-exis­tent due to the stage fright and “… if you start tak­ing Xanax and shots of whiskey at 10 in the morn­ing, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to fin­ish that show sober.” Ruby was black­out wast­ed, rag­ing at the audi­ence because her keys went miss­ing. You’d think sobri­ety would come soon after, but it didn’t. She put that off, too, and Ruby Dick­u­lous lay dor­mant for years, hid­den behind that per­sis­tent cloud of shame.

The negative thoughts creep back in – those feelings never go away.
Ruby Dickulous

The dor­man­cy was filled with a suc­cess­ful real estate career, one that con­tin­ues to this day. Back then, the idea of return­ing to standup was put on pause for the sake of finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty, but it was evi­dent that she was miss­ing a cre­ative outlet. 

It wasn’t until COVID that Ruby quit her addic­tions for good, after the sud­den real­iza­tion that – if you keep putting off your plans and dreams – a pan­dem­ic can take it all away before you get back to it. The lone­li­ness of COVID was soul-crush­ing for Ruby, but it was eeri­ly sim­i­lar to the lone­li­ness of being an iso­lat­ed alco­holic. She real­ized that every­body’s forced to live like you were for the last decade.” What shook her into sobri­ety was the real­iza­tion of how for­tu­nate and grate­ful she should be for her life and the suc­cess­ful real­tor she’d become.

Ruby’s self aware­ness struck hard: If you can’t man­age a suc­cess­ful life, and you’re this sad, what are you going to do when your par­ents die…and that washed over me.” On July 13, 2020, Ruby stopped drink­ing for good, real­iz­ing that sobri­ety was the only route to gain the men­tal strength she need­ed to face all of life’s chal­lenges, and to stop putting off dreams.

In her words, after 90 days of sobri­ety, she hit the ground run­ning with putting on shows as Ruby Dick­u­lous. It’s not easy, and she admits that the neg­a­tive thoughts creep back in – those feel­ings nev­er go away.” But, by all accounts, Drag Real­ty is a suc­cess (made more so by Ruby’s ear­ly adop­tion of the Tik Tok plat­form). Her Drag Brunch shows can be seen month­ly at Cap City Com­e­dy Club, and have been pop­ping up at oth­er venues around town. Even more oppor­tu­ni­ties await Ruby; some must be kept secret for now, but oth­ers are just a mat­ter of time. As I write this, a dark cloud looms in the skies out­side, but Ruby doesn’t have to wor­ry about the dark cloud in her life tak­ing her dreams away any­more. These days, as any Tex­an knows, clouds bring rain, and the reign of Ruby Dick­u­lous is just get­ting started.

Fol­low Ruby Dickulous 

Ruby Dick­u­lous can be seen and heard:

  • Drag Brunch — 12pm month­ly at Cap City Com­e­dy Club (check sched­ule for updates)
    • Novem­ber 122023
    • Decem­ber 172023
  • Drag Brunch — at oth­er venues through­out each month
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Ruby Dickulous