If there ever was such a thing as a “Triple Threat” and then some, Michelle Visage truly exemplifies that. Starting her career off in the wildly talented girl group Seduction back in the late 80’s, she has consistently worked with the changes in the pop culture and environment and remained relevant and successful at the same time. Since her girl group days, she has gone on to a talk show with none other than RuPaul, provided lead vocals to the song “It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day” off of the Grammy Winning Bodyguard soundtrack, and a slew of radio gigs throughout the years. Now, she sits as one of the two main judges beside Project Runway alum Santino Rice on the hugely popular LOGO television show “Rupaul’s Drag Race”, which had it’s recap episode last night. As the live finale approaches next Monday night LIVE at 9/8 central, I sat down with our favorite judge to an e-lunch over some e-tic-tacs. Take a look!
So, back in the day, you got your start through the girl band Seduction. How did that come about?
Through perseverance and balls. I auditioned for a position that was already filled, but when my best friend at the time, Idalis, told me she was in a girl group, I just KNEW I had to be in it with her! Imagine the fun 2 BFFS would have being in a group together, touring the world and living the rock star (yeah right) lifestyle?! I called up the producers and told them that though they had a “white girl” I assured them it wasn’t me and they needed to hear me sing. The rest is herstory.
You know, I haven’t seen a good girl group in a while, but boy bands are all over the place. Why do you think that’s the case?
Because boy bands are an easier sell. Throngs of teeny bopper girls will buy anything a bunch of cute boys put vocals on as long as they have that image, girls however, need talent (most of the time.) Girl groups can happen in a big way, but it takes much more time, energy and work, most of which labels aren’t willing to put in.
You got your start with RuPaul cohosting a morning radio show. How did that happen and what was that like?
Actually, I got my start with Ru working in the nightclubs YEARS before WKTU in NYC happened. Ru and I met in 87ish working Susanne Bartsch parties. I ran a vogueing troupe and Ru was well, Ru. We didn’t really hang out back then, it was work time, but we definitely saw each other and knew each other. When Supermodel came out, I had released a new song with a new group called SOUL SYSTEM and we bumped into each other at a gig and we were like, “GURRRRLLLLLLLL Where you been?!” I truly believe from the day our energies connected, there was a destiny to be fulfilled because our paths continuously crossed. When Frankie Blue (PD of WKTU) put us together to audition for the Morning Show in ’96 and we walked into the room and saw each other? That was the beginning of the rest of our lives, so to speak.
I’ve been watching Drag Race since the get go, and I can’t imagine the show without you. How does it feel to be such an integral part of such an iconic show?
An honor is the best way I could sum it up. When the show was in the conceptual state World of Wonder reached out to me to be a part of it from day one and of COURSE I wanted to! I mean the both of us back together again? I had stayed with my morning radio career since 1996 and at the time i was doing a morning show in south florida and when I went to my boss for time off (I told them they could suspend my pay mind you) they denied it without good reason. Now, in radio, unless your name starts with Howard and ends with Stern, you don’t get more than a week off the air and I knew that. I even offered to wake up at MIDNIGHT to do my show live in Florida and deal with how tired i looked on TV afterward. He said no to that too. I tried everything I could without just leaving, but that would put me in breach of contract and I had a family to feed so I couldn’t do that. I was beyond pissed and beyond sad. It wasn’t going to happen and my Ru was going to have to find someone else to be his right-hand broad and that depressed the shit out of me. Come to find out, the reason the boss said no was because he didn’t think the “message of the tv show” went along with our audience aka HOMOPHOBIA. Oh. HELL. No. Bitch. Sooooooo, when Ru came back to me for season 3, the boss said no again, but this time I went above his head because I wasn’t taking his controlling homophobic bullshit anymore and his boss said, “absolutely!” And there you have it. I did get fired or as they said “decided not to renew your last year of your contract” but I knew that was coming and I didn’t care. There is soooo much more to this story but it will all be in my book 😉
Do you have any favorite and/or stand out moments on the show and what are they?
C’mon really? To me every moment is special. All of the queens are special, all of the moments we get to share with them are special, but I suppose the most special moments are the ones with the queens and Ru. The impact my baby has on the queens is immeasurable and that literally makes me warm all over and that ain’t easy cuz I’m a stone cold bitch.
How do you feel about this seasons’ group of queens compared to previous seasons?
Ya know, I get this question a lot and it’s simple: every season is unique. Seriously, how does one compare? You may have YOUR favorite seasons but to me they are all great, just vastly different so there could be no comparison.
Are there any dolls you wish we could have seen more of?
There always is. Sometimes there are ones that I literally HATE to see go and this season for me it was Alyssa Edwards. But there are at least 2 each season for me.
Do you feel that Roxxxy Andrews has been unfairly cast as the villain of this season?
There is no unfairly. You either are or your aren’t. I personally don’t think Roxxxy is a villain, I think she is scared and is seeing the threat of Jinkx for the first time to be honest. A villain is someone who is calculating and mean, I believe Roxxxy was lashing out because it’s a facade she’s got. She feels the need to look, feel and be fierce at all costs and let the world NO ONE can take her down. It looks ugly, but I am telling you, Roxxxy is NOT ugly. She said things that I KNOW she must regret but I also know how much she loves Jinkx and doesn’t feel that way at all. Fear and insecurities bring out the worst in our egos and when we allow it to happen, it all plays out accordingly.
I see you went to AMDA. So did I, like every other gay in NYC. Do you have any advice for grads that they probably won’t hear upon graduation?
OMG NO WAY! I am SO sorry to hear that! LOL. It’s actually a real school now unlike when I went. When I went EVERYONE got in and it was just a 2 year school with mostly talentless people. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and I spent hours telling AMDA jokes and reliving our musical theater classes and more importantly, our dance classes with Harry Woolever and his lovely bulge. My advice is this: don’t wait for something to come to you. You need to go out and get it. My husband went to Juilliard as an actor which is MUCH more high brow and no matter where you went, what school your degree is from, in showbiz it doesn’t drop in your lap. GO GET IT!
What do you think of the pageant vs comedy scenes?
Totally different styles of drag, equally as fabulous.
Have you ever felt that your critiques, in hind sight, weren’t fair enough? Or vice versa, and you thought you were too nice?
Never to both. I made an oath to myself and and silent oath to these girls that I was going to give them the most honest critiques to help them advance to the next level and/or grow within themselves and their art. Sometimes when you are the artist, you are so close to it that you can’t see what’s going on. 9 times out of 10 when the queens are on the stage and they think I was too rough on them, they see it on TV and text me to say “OMG you were 100% right! THANK YOU!” My job is to help them be the best queen they could be and some times it hurts the tummy to hear it. They can hate Santino and myself all they want, but if they listen? They will see what happens……TRUST ME, I have said this before and I will forever say it, I get NOTHING out of being a bitch simply to be a bitch. If a queen decides to say “Fuck You Visage” and not listen, it isn’t gonna hurt me now is it? I am not the one with 100k at risk and a huge future. I can PROMISE you that I say what I do to help them advance in the competition and make a lasting impact because I love and respect each and every single one of those girls AND the ones who haven’t made it on the show yet. Drag is an art form I honor and revere and I take it very seriously.
So, folks, there you go! I hope you had as much fun as I did! Join us next week when we crown the winner! Who do you think will win? Check out her home and Twitter pages and sound off in the comments below!