AUSTRALIA has one of the biggest fan bases of the popular reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, where drag queens battle it out to be named America’s next drag superstar.
For the first time ever, the huge stage production RuPaul’s Battle of the Seasons (BOTS) hits our shores in July and features some of the biggest names in the show’s history taking to the stage to deliver a night of comedy and entertainment.
She spoke to Star Observer about how the queens get over their dramas to hit the stage, what she really thought of Season 8 and why she loves Australia so much.
RuPaul’s BOTS is one of the biggest Drag Race tours we’ve ever seen in Australia? How does it differ to the regular club shows the queens usually do here?
It’s nothing like it, because what this is is a two-hour stage show. So there’s group numbers that are fully choreographed, there’s video elements, there’s duets, there’s solo things, there’s dancers.
It’s literally like going to see a Broadway production of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
How do you bring a show of that scale together?
Tonnes of rehearsal. It’s great because these kids, if you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race you know the choreography challenges are their least favourite, so you find a way to bring it together. Even if you spend five days on one number, it gets done.
And when the lights go on and when the music starts, they put any issues or any attitudes or problems behind them and they do a great show every night, night after night.
We’ve got 70 cities that we’re doing and we’re only half way through and it’s just a really good show.
Nobody is going to leave with a bitter attitude, nobody is going to leave saying ‘this sucked’, everybody loves it.
What is your favourite part of touring with the queens?
I’ve been touring like this since, since I was 19 years old with my girl group and I love touring, I’m kind of used to it.
I think what I like about it now is that I’m not just the oldest, but I’m also the one who has done it the most and been on the road the most, so I lead the reins with teaching them how we get through. So I play a little mum role with their meltdowns here and there, if they’re needing advice or needing somebody to listen. I like being there for them.
Also, they inspire me, seeing them perform and the fashion and doing what they do, it pushes me to be a better performer every night. I love that.
Aside from your hosting duties, what can we expect from your performance during BOTS?
I do lots of performances, I’m kind of the glue that holds it all together. I sing, I host, I do a little bit of comedy.
At the end of every season of Drag Race, new queens are added to the BOTS line-up. Do they usually fit in well or is it an adjustment?
There can by clunky spots and I think a lot of the newer ones, especially if they’re young have never done it. And it’s not easy to just walk into it, it’s not something that comes easily.
Touring is not easy and people get on the road and they realise ‘oh shit, what am I doing? This is so hard’.
It can be really hard because you’re in a new city every night, sometimes you do seven or eight shows in a row without a break. When you’re on the road, you’re in a different hotel every night.
What is it about performing and touring that you love?
I don’t know if there’s any way to describe it, because the people that love to perform, love to perform.
I performed many a times, many a years for very little money, it was just for the love of performing. A true performer understands that.
It’s not always about fame and fortune. If you’re lucky enough to get fame and fortune as well, then well done, but the majority of us performers are not lucky enough to get fame and fortune.
You were just in Australia recently, are there any favourite spots you’ll be going back to visit?
I really want to go back to the nature reserve in Brisbane and play with all the animals again. It was such a fun couple of hours, we don’t get to do that shits in America, we don’t have that fun stuff.
I really want to hold a baby wombat, nobody would let me hold a wombat. They’re so cute, I love wombats.
I love Melbourne. I didn’t get to Sydney at all, I was there for one day, I didn’t even get to see the Sydney Opera House or Harbour Bridge, I didn’t get to see anything. So, I’m hoping when I get to go back this time I get to see the beautiful sites of Sydney.
I spent the most time in Brisbane, I had four days off, that was amazing. I went into every single shop on Queen St.
It was my first time there, when I was there a couple of months ago and Ru told me how much I’d love it. I’m a Anglophile, everybody knows I’m obsessed with the UK. I got to Australia and I totally understood it.
After being there I don’t understand why people keep trying to keep coming to America, it’s so amazing over there. It is so lovely.
The dust is settling after the Season 8 finale which just aired, what are you reflections on Season 8?
I think it was a stellar rollercoaster, because some of the girls in the beginning that you didn’t expect to have things pulled it out of their ass and some of the ones you thought would stay a little bit longer didn’t survive. That’s what I love in this season was every single person was so talented, it was such a strong season coming out of the gates.
This was the first season I can look back and honestly say, in all honesty, honest to God’s truth, any one of those girls in the top three had won I would’ve been ok with it. Usually it’s like, I’m passionate about one or two, but this season any one of them could have won and I would’ve been ok with it.
What’s your elevator pitch to convince people to come and see BOTS?
People that love RuPaul’s Drag Race will not be let down by this performance. You’re not going to a bar show where you see you favourite artists lip synch up on stage, you’re coming to see a live performance, you’re going to the theatre. So anyone who thinks this is going to be a half hour drag show, it’s not like that at all, you guys.
It’s a full production, it’s a two-hour show and if you get a meet and greet, you get to hang out with us before the show.
It really is a wonderful production, I’m so proud of it, there’s no half-stepping in this show.
There is no one who will leave unsatisfied.
What’s next for Michelle Visage?
Well, season nine of Rupaul’s Drag Race, we’ve got AllStars 2 (no, Visage wouldn’t spill the T for us), I’ve got my book out called the Diva Rules and you know, I’m not the type of girl who’s like ‘Oh my God, I’ve got so many things coming up, just wait’. I like to talk about them when they’re done. There’s a few things in the works, but you’ll find out about them when they happen.
Until then, I’m just living my life and performing as much as I can.
And finally, as a huge Madonna fangirl, what did you think of her tribute to Prince at the Billboard Music Awards?
You know, I think she undeservedly taking a bashing. But here’s the thing, Madonna has spent an entire career and I think it was Prince that had told her years ago, any publicity is good publicity. I can’t remember what the quote was, but I remember her saying it in an interview, that it’s worse if people are not talking about you, at least they’re talking about you.
My point of view on her was, is Madonna the best singer? Absolutely not. She did not go out there to be the best singer, she went out there to eulogise a friend of hers. They’ve been friends for so long and people don’t know that.
This doesn’t need to be about who the best singer is, it’s about how she wants to remember her friend and I thought she sang from the heart and she did him justice.
RuPaul Battle of the Seasons tour dates:
July 1: Festival Hall, Melbourne VIC
July 2: Big Top, Sydney NSW
July 3: Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane QLD
July 5: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide SA
July 6: Astor Theatre, Perth WA