Michelle Visage on RuPaul, drag queens, and being "mama hen"
Tonight, the winners and fan favorites from the past five seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race will go from the small screen to the stage when RuPaul's Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons brings glam-battle to Minneapolis.
Before Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck, Pandora Boxx, and the rest of the queens attempt to outshine each other at the sold-out show, Michelle Visage, one of the show's judges and host of the live show, spoke with City Pages about the program, being BFFs with RuPaul, and her role as "mama hen" with a bunch of big personalities.
It's going to be totally different. There's going to be a lot more opportunity to see the girls give their full performances, plus we've got some duets and other surprises in store. On the television show, you get to see bits and pieces, but the live show will showcase what the girls are all about.
So there's no competition element?
Each girl wants to defend her season and prove that it was the best one, but in the traditional sense there isn't really any competition. It's fun to see some of the girls do duets with one another and try to upstage each other. I'm lucky because as the host I get to pull anyone off stage who isn't cutting it. At the end of it all, the real purpose of this show is showing people the art of drag, and letting the queens do what they do best.
What's the big difference between how relationships between the girls are portrayed on the show as opposed to real life?
The things people want to put on TV are fighting and drama, but we're really like one big family. We all love each other, and we all just want to show that drag really is an art form.
Are there no worries about having this many big personalities traveling around together?
Not at all. Like I said, all of the girls love each other. Plus, they know that if they don't follow the rules they've got to deal with the mama hen of the group.
Having been part of Seduction and done so many things in your career, how does being involved in Drag Race stack up for you?
I've always been someone who lives in the moment. I don't sit here and say, 'Look what I did back in '89.' I like to live in the now. Everything I've done in my career has been another chapter of my life and another thing I can put in my pocket, and this has been such an amazing experience. I've been friends with Ru for a long time, and did a lot of stuff with him on TV long ago. Working with him again is fantastic, and I love that this has allowed me the opportunity to really show people that drag is art.
You've got another season of Drag Race starting soon. What can fans expect?
The new season starts in January, and every time I talk about a new season, I feel like I'm repeating myself. Each season I always say, 'I don't know how we're going to get better than this,' and then the next season the talent is even better. This season, everyone has star quality right away, and everyone is really amazing.
Are you excited to be coming back to the Twin Cities for this tour?
I'm so excited! I think the last time I was there was when I was at Prince's club with Seduction for Glam Slam back in 1990, but I remember I loved it there.
Any chance you might decide to give a little performance during the show?
All I'll say is you never know what's going to happen.