Washington Blade 2016 Most Eligible Singles
With Michelle Visage from ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’
Pre-show meet-and-greet tickets $20
Doors at 10 p.m.
Drag show at 10:30
DJ: Mad Science
Michelle Visage, the no-holds-barred judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” says she loves Town, D.C. in general, (Town owner) Ed Bailey and gay life here. She’ll be here this weekend for the Blade’s Most Eligible Singles contest and says she’s “up for whatever they want me to do.” We caught up with her by phone this week from her Los Angeles home. Her comments have been edited for length.
WASHINGTON BLADE: So you like coming to our fair city?
MICHELLE VISAGE: I’m from New Jersey so D.C. feels kind of familiar to me. It’s that coast, it’s my peeps. It’s an inner-city vibe, which I love. Everybody walks and the gays are so loving and funny and open and see no color. That’s kind of beautiful about D.C.
BLADE: And Town?
VISAGE: It’s like visiting family. Most of the time I end up just hanging out and dancing because the DJs are so good. I don’t do that at many nightclubs but I do at Town. It was like this weird connection the first time I was there and I stayed til like 4 in the morning dancing.
BLADE: We have such a rich drag community here yet our girls never seem to make it on the show. Why?
VISAGE: Well, there was Tatianna (season two) but overall there’s no anti-D.C. sentiment or anti- San Francisco or anywhere else. It’s all what you do with your audition tape. If you just phone it in, you’re not gonna get on the show. If you overproduce the hell out of it, I don’t know that you’ll get on either. It’s about showing your true colors because Ru looks at all those tapes and Ru can see through bullshit plain and simple. But I love Ba’Naka, I love Tatianna. It’s got nothing to do with D.C.
BLADE: What’s your advice for our Washington Blade Most Eligible Singles?
VISAGE: It’s OK to be picky. People say, ‘You’re never gonna find somebody because you’re too picky.” But it’s OK to be picky because nobody wants to settle in life. When you settle you have regrets and resentment. But there is such as thing as being too picky. … My big pet peeve with my single girlfriends or single gay friends is when they say things like, “Uh-uh, he’s not my type.” I don’t want to hear that. I married the complete opposite of what my type was … but if I hadn’t had an open mind, I would never have met my husband. I’d always dated African-American and Latino men and my husband is white. … Be open to anything and everything that comes your way. … Also, personality trumps looks any day. Open your mind.
BLADE: Would your “Drag Race” critiques be different, do you think, if you saw what goes on in the work room?
VISAGE: They know me very well and they know to keep me out for a reason. I’m there to judge a challenge. If I saw the work room and got to know them, I’d start pulling for certain people. I can separate, like obviously on “All Stars,” I know the girls by then, but I think they’re really smart to keep me out. I would look at them differently if I knew them.
BLADE: Was there any guest celebrity judge who was markedly different from their public persona then the cameras weren’t rolling?
VISAGE: I was so excited to meet Rose McGowan because I’ve been obsessed with her my whole life so when I met her I wanted us to be initially like, “Oh my God, you’re my soul mate,” and she had no time for me at all. So my ego was wounded by the fact that she didn’t want to be my best friend. That’s not negative, it was my issue. She was just very stoic and to herself and her people but maybe she has to be. She grew up in this business and it’s not easy. But most of the time the celebrity judges are obsessed with the show and are more excited to do our show than any other show they’ve been on. I hear that all the time.
BLADE: Cross-country road trip — Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley or Santino Rice?
VISAGE: Oh my God, that’s like “Sophie’s Choice”! Ross will kill me if I say Carson and Carson will kill me if I say Ross. Santino’s out of the picture. Can I go halfway and pick one of them up?
VISAGE: That’s what we’d have to do or else get a station wagon so we could all fit and all our clothes. I spend more time with Carson but I love them both so much, I really couldn’t pick.
BLADE: Adore, Ginger — why do people go on this show if they can’t sew? Um, hello?
VISAGE: I know, it’s like every fucking season, you know there’s going to be a Snatch Game, you know there’s going to be a sewing challenge. … Either take a class or at least mentally prepare yourself like look at BenDeLaCreme. She’s a wiz with a glue gun and won the sewing challenge with a glue gun. … If you go on a reality show unprepared, you have no one to blame but yourself.
BLADE: The show so often strikes me as a microcosm of real life. Agree?
VISAGE: In real life, we compete every day with ourselves, our bank accounts, whatever the situation. You could say there’s no $100,000 prize at the end but there is because if you succeed and do really well, there is a prize waiting for you at the end. Obviously in real life you don’t have to make puppets that look like me and Santino, but there is competition at every turn. Sometimes it’s just, “How am I going to pay my rent?”
BLADE: In your Seduction days you opened for Milli Vanilli. Did you know it was a sham?
VISAGE: No! I was dating Fabrice, the French one. We had an affair when I was on the road with them. He had the thickest French accent yet when he rapped he sounded like he was from the Bronx. I wondered how he did that but I just thought it was like when you hear someone British sing and you don’t realize they’re British until they speak. I thought it was something like that. And back in 1989, 1990, we all sang to tracks, those of us with these highly choreographed shows. Madonna, Janet Jackson, New Kids — everybody did it. Our mics were live but we had backing tracks to support it. I did wonder how they were able to completely lose their accents in the studio, but the backing tracks, no, that didn’t seem unusual to me for the time.
BLADE: I understand the show is huge in Australia where you’re heading soon. Why does it explode in certain markets?
VISAGE: It’s obvious — it’s places where there’s a huge gay market and places like England, Australia, New York City … where there’s a rich drag history. Any of those places we go, it’s gonna be huge.
BLADE: But isn’t the bulk of “RuPaul’s Drag Race’s” fan base actually straight women? I’ve heard that.
VISAGE: I do not think that’s true. I go to these places and the crowd is 100 percent more gay men than straight women. They’re there too because every gay has a best friend but no, no, no — the majority are gay men.
BLADE: So the show basically shoots over five weeks in the summer then the fall is post-production?
VISAGE: I don’t know if I should really discuss the shooting schedule but it’s longer than five weeks.
BLADE: Obviously there are all different kinds of drag but is it really anything goes? Like when Milk did RuPaul in the workroom, is that still drag?
VISAGE: It is. It’s a different kind of drag. I just didn’t think he did it really well. There are all types but on that runway, I don’t want to see you dressed as a boy, but that’s just me. … There’s a place for all of it, I just don’t want to see boy drag on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”