Drag Race royalty has set her sights on the universe.
Legendary RuPaul's Drag Race judge Michelle Visage has recently joined a new show supporting drag artists in the singing world. Queen of the Universe is searching for a drag singing superstar that is killing it with her "W.A.P.": What they were wearing, All-star attitude, and Performances.
We got the chance to chat with Michelle about her new TV gig. We also discussed her long history supporting drag artists, her friendship with fellow judge Trixie Mattel, and what's coming next for RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14.
Check it out below!
For Queen of the Universe, what drew you to join the judging panel?
That should be obvious.
You know, we're talking about singing drag queens.
Absolutely. 100% count me in!
Did you find that your judging style changed from RuPaul's Drag Race to doing a singing competition?
No, I am and have always been 100% me. It's different criteria because drag is second, and the voice/presentation is first. The performance is first.
I'm only me. I don't fake it, and I don't put on an act.
I can only judge how I can help my children and my friends. That's the way that I judge, so my judging style is the same.
So when it comes to the "W.A.P.," what do you think catches your eye when you see a queen and think that's "100% W.A.P."?
You can kind of tell. In the pageant world, it's what we call the "TP" (the total package). The voice is first, and the drag is second, but really the total package is everything.
You can have the best voice and look like a mess. You can look incredible, and you're not the best singer.
So, it's about the marriage of all of those things that give us the best "W.A.P.," so to speak. And that's what I look for each time.
Queen of the Universe is your latest judging appearance in the drag world, and you've been a longstanding judge fostering drag talent for many years. How does it feel to be that leading force of fostering new batches of queens and international queens?
It's amazing! I feel like everybody's favorite auntie.
It's like they look to you for advice, but then if you say something that gets them upset, they might cry, and they might hate me for the moment. But they come back and say, "Thank you, I needed to hear that."
So, it's an honor for me to be in that position. You've got Mama Ru and Auntie Michelle, and I wouldn't sacrifice that for the world.
It means everything to be a part of their journey and bring out the best that they can possibly be. And even surprise themselves.
Speaking of the queens, Queen of the Universe is the first time you have a former contestant on the judging panel beside you (Trixie Mattel). How would you describe that new dynamic between you both?
Trixie and I have a fun dynamic. She actually FaceTimed me before because she was really nervous about judging. She was like, "I don't know how to do this. I'm one of them. Please tell me what I need to know."
I sat her down on FaceTime, and I said, "Listen to me. These kids want to hear what you were told. You went through this, so you need to tell them what you wanted to hear when you were a contestant. And what you wanted to hear was how can I make myself better?
Maybe not in the moment because it doesn't feel good. But when you got back to the hotel or whatever you were doing at night, you'd think it through, and you go, 'Okay, how am I gonna do what the judges want of me?' So, that's the way you judge. You judge from the gut.
If that were you up there, what would you change? What would you want to be told to change?"
I think she did a great job. And we have a fun dynamic because we can really rip on each other.
Whereas with Leona [Lewis] and Vanessa [Williams], we can't do that. We have to be proper.
But I can certainly let Trixie have it.
With Trixie and many other queens growing in Hollywood, how excited do you feel seeing the queens take the world by storm?
I mean, how can you not be so proud of them? Look at what they're doing!
I often say when they get upset when they don't win, let's say they make it to Top 3 or Top 5, and it's like "I didn't win," but I say, "You guys are focusing on the wrong thing."
The winner rarely "wins" anymore.
For so many others, you don't have to be a winner.
Not winning is the new black.
You don't have to win to be successful. And that's the beauty of it.
You just gotta be you. Just be authentic.
Has Queen of the Universe inspired you to do more music opportunities in your life now?
I did a song with Steps recently that went to #1 over there in the U.K., and that was amazing.
And I may or may not have recorded a couple of songs. We'll see what happens with them.
Ooh, a very great tease!
RuPaul's Drag Race is heading into its 14th season. What gets you the most excited when a new season gets announced?
Oh, seeing the new queens! I love to meet the new queens.
So, when I sit down at that judge's table when you get to meet all of them, I watch and intensely look at them.
You can see how scared they are of me, which is fun to see how they respond to that.
Right away, I can kinda see, "Okay, this one's gonna go the distance, this one might suffer here, this one's gotta push through that."
I can tell almost straight away, but it's the most exciting the first day when you sit down and see all the new faces.
They're just getting off the bus in Hollywood trying to make it.
It's wonderful to be a part of that.
For eager fans, is there anything you can tease about the upcoming season?
You know I can't! I love my job, and I don't want to lose my job. But I can say the queens are the stars of the show. Not us; it's the queens.
Each season, there are new queens. And new queens are new stories. New artistry. New drag. New ways of doing their drag.
It's so very exciting!
I'll tell you that RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 does not disappoint.
Everybody is going to be thrilled with this cast!
It's an enigma this show because when most shows are done and don't make it to season 14, I feel like we're just beginning.
Drag globally is just beginning.
What can fans expect of you next?
I hope at least 5 or 6 more shows are on the air simultaneously. [Laughs]
I have so much fun doing this. I hope what fans expect from me is to continue being as honest and loyal to the LGBTQIA+ community as I have been for the past 30+ years.
And for us to make moves together. Big moves politically.
And you also have a new documentary coming out as well.
Yes! It's called "Explant." Which, by the way, affects women and trans women as well. Anybody who has breast implants in there is included in it. There are a few men, but I'm not talking about men who put breast implants in their bodies as a bet.
I'm talking about women and trans women who get breast implants and get sick from them. It's called "Explant," it's on Paramount+, and it'll be streaming on December 15th.
Even if you're considering getting breast implants, watch the documentary, so you know what you're getting into.
Queen of the Universe airs new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+. RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 premieres on VH1 on Friday, January 7th, 2022, at 8/7c.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.