Michelle Visage is exactly what you get when you see her judging those queens on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race‘, and we were fortunate to have her answer our questions from our judging panel. You’ll love her even more after reading her rather candid opinions on pretty much everything.
Most of you know Michelle Visage as the fierce funny quick witted judge who replaced Merle Ginsberg (who’s now over The Hollywood Reporter), but this lady has had quite the illustrious career in the entertainment industry. If she’d been born a few decades back, she’d easily have fit in with the Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn crowd for being a strong woman who’s not afraid to speak her mind or stand up for things that just aren’t right. The smart Jersey girl started her career in the group ‘Seduction‘ who had the memorable hit ‘Two To Make It Right‘ and was one of the early ones to learn that Milli Vanilli weren’t the singers the world thought they were after going to watch them in a dress rehearsal where the track was playing but Rob & Fab were nowhere to be found. She’s that Forrest Gump type (without the chocolates and slow talkin’) that’s been around for many historial pop culture moments including singing one of the track’s on Whitney Houston’s ‘The Bodyguard‘ soundtrack with The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.
Michelle went on to become a DJ and a long-term relationship started when she met RuPaul Charles through the 80’s club scene in New York. That’s led to an over 20 year friendship that’s had the two hosting a radio show on WKTU, ‘The RuPaul Show‘ on VH-1 (where I first met Visage and loved her attitude) to judging queens together on Logo’s ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’. The only thing she’s not done yet is write a tell-all book, and with her past, there’ll be a lot of people hoping drugs, alcohol or passing time has faded her memory. As you can see from our interview below, she’s got a lot to say and some great advice for kids just trying to survive the high school experience.
BEST MOVIES EVER: You’ve been able to work continuously in the entertainment industry since the 90’s. How were you able to adapt so easily to the changing times when many other recording artists from that decade are “Where Are They Now” topics?
MICHELLE VISAGE: I guess I just don’t think about it and just carry on. I have always been obsessed with everything pop culture, so as far as staying on top of changing times and cultures, that is second nature to me.
BME: Compared to when you started, how much tougher is it to break into the music business?
MV: It’s a totally different world now unfortunately. Let me start with the upside: right now it is ideal for new artists who normally wouldn’t get a chance in hell to be seen or heard by, let’s say for shits and giggles, a Tommy Mottola type. The entire world is at their disposal with YouTube, Facebook, etc. It’s amazing the talent being found off of these mediums. I would have LIVED to have had that as a struggling singer back in the day. BUT, the downside is no labels are paying out for big deals anymore. It used to be if someone wanted you on their label, they paid BIG TIME to have you. It’s suuuuuper hard to break in but if it’s in your blood, you will do it.
BME: You were an anti-bully crusader in high school long before the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign started. What realistic advice would you give kids today trying to survive through the rough school years? And please not that ‘It gets better’ statement since it can take several years before it ‘gets better’.
MV: It Gets Better is a fabulous crusade. I love what they are trying to do because it does. Get. Better. I promise. BUT with that said, so many of these kids just don’t feel like they belong anywhere, let alone school. When you feel like that at home and in your own damn skin, where DO you go? WHO do you turn to? To those kids (whom I was one of) I say LOOK WITHIN. It seems cliché but hear me out. I stand there with my daughters and tell them to look at themselves in the mirror and say “I love you” and it’s the hardest thing in the world for my big girl, who is 12. It shouldn’t be. It should be the EASIEST thing to do, but it just goes to show us that self-love is where we need to start. These kids that are struggling. I want you all to know how loved and beautiful you are. Understand that there is only ONE you and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. They aren’t paying your bills or walking in your shoes. I know you want to know what it feels like to be the popular one or to just be able to express yourself the way you want to without getting the side eye from everyone, but I say KEEP DOING IT. Be you in the biggest most grand way possible and know that you are loved, because you are. Trust me.
BME: How thrilled were you when Sharon Needles chose to impersonate you for the Snatch Game?
MV: To say that was an honor would be the understatement of the year. I had no idea it was happening, and I couldn’t believe that I had made that sort of an impact that a queen could “do” me. So ridiculously flattered by that skinny bitch.
BME: What about that rumor we started that Sharon Needles is actually the love child of you and Santino Rice?
MV: She looks like her daddy.
BME: Rick Santorum vs. Tim Tebow in a ‘Lip Sync For Your Life’ – who would win?
MV: Ugh. They don’t even know what that is, but I’d go with Tebow mainly cuz he is fine as hell.
BME: It’s got to be tough judging everyone equally when you know there are some queens who should have Shantéd long ago. How hard is it to stay objective throughout the season?
MV: It gets tougher as the season progresses, but I know what my job is so I get it done. It’s definitely tough because I appreciate and adore every single queen up there. It’s so freaking admirable.
BME: Is it hard to keep your mommy side at bay when you can see certain queens crumbling under the pressure of the contest?
MV: Absolutely! I often want to run up and hug the girls, but alas, Ru would bitch slap me
BME: Seeing the good and the bad side of the entertainment industry, are you prepared if your daughters want to follow in your footsteps?
MV: I think so. My oldest should be modeling now. She just turned 12 and is 5’4″ with blonde waist length hair and a gap in her teeth that sells anything to anyone looking her way. She is interested in it. Lots of friends want to photograph her, so I will allow it in little steps because she is also brilliant, and I don’t want to make that secondary. School and being a kid is the number one priority right now. If they are truly serious about it the way I was, then I have to do what my mom did and stand by them.
BME: What’s been your most bizarre experience in the industry?
MV: I don’t have an answer for that. This industry itself is bizarre.
BME: Rick Santorum will be happy to see that you’re spending the end of 2012 on a Mayan Adventure with 40 drag queens. Can you tell us more about that, and will there be any contests for those less fortunate souls who’d love to hang with you and the girls?
MV: That’s actually a fantastic idea!!! I will ask AlandChuck Travel about that!! The cruise is a cruise of a lifetime. I think all but 5 queens from the 4 seasons are sailing, and I am the ringleader of this drag cruise circus and I cannot wait! If you ARE interested and you want to go, it’s sailing on December 2-9 out of Tampa on the Norwegian Dawn. Private parties, monstrous drag shows, Q&A panels, dancing, karaoke, and so on. If you wanna be in MY VIP group just use the code #1437794 *wink wink*