‘It’s a show about heart’: Michelle Visage on why RuPaul’s Drag Race has resonated around the world

·4-min read
Michelle Visage says people don’t want RuPaul’s Drag Race for the drag - it’s a show with heart (Michelle Visage x ASIC)
Michelle Visage says people don’t want RuPaul’s Drag Race for the drag - it’s a show with heart (Michelle Visage x ASIC)

Michelle Visage has weighed in on why RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a global hit and she says it’s nothing to do with drag.

The original US version debuted on TV back in 2009 with the New Jersey native, 53, joining in season 3. She has also appeared in the Australian and UK counterparts, plus, spin-off show, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars with no sign of the juggernaut slowing down anytime soon.

Speaking to the Standard, she said the reason she thinks that people have embraced the show so much is because they see themselves in it.

She said: “I think people resonate with it because of the journey that these kids go on. I think a lot of them don’t fit in, a lot of them don’t feel like one of the cool kids and they watch the show and see themselves represented, especially queer kids, they see themselves represented for the first time on television and not in a negative way. So they watch it and they go ‘mommy, that’s me’. And it also brings families together because they are able to understand their queer child.

Michelle Visage with long-time friend RuPaul Charles (Getty Images)
Michelle Visage with long-time friend RuPaul Charles (Getty Images)

“But, and this is not just only queer children, I think any kid that is struggling – and when I say kid I don’t even mean children, we’re talking you know, 10-80, somebody who felt like they never quite fit the norm.

“And that’s why Drag Race is a show about heart, you think it’s about drag, it’s really about heart and tenacity, it’s good,” she continued.

“I was bullied, I wasn’t the most popular kid and was kind of a weirdo and a misfit and I feel like if I’d had a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race I wouldn’t have felt so alone.”

Visage has been open about past stuggles and says learning to protect her mental health has been a life-long lesson which has most recently seen her embrace exercise.

Michelle Visage as part of the judging panel of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2 (BBC/World of Wonder/Guy Levy)
Michelle Visage as part of the judging panel of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2 (BBC/World of Wonder/Guy Levy)

She has partnered with sportswear brand ASICS for their 15:09 campaign which aims to get people moving for 15 minutes and nine seconds each day after their research found that is the exact amount of time it takes for exercise to give a mental uplift.

She said: “Exercise has changed my life and the course of my life. Over the past five months I’ve done a whole body reboot and lost 32 pounds through movement. Not by being crazy, but just moving and 15:09 of moving can completely change the way you feel and uplift your mental health.

“Every day I wake up early to do a workout and my workout is nothing crazy. It’s not running, it’s not doing HIIT workouts, it’s literally doing 15 or so minutes of yoga, some three or five kilo weights and building muscle, feeling good about myself mentally and getting like meditation out of it, it’s wonderful.

“Yoga is really a game changer and I always laughed at it because I was always a gym rat, but now that I’m actually doing it I’m like ‘oh my goodness, not only is this difficult but I feel like a different person because of it.’

“Me being 53 I’m like I’m not going to do much because I’m a woman of a certain age, your body loses elasticity at 40, but all of a sudden I’m building muscles I didn’t know that I could build and it’s like you can change! You’re never too old to change and it’s wonderful, it has been enlightening.”

Elsewhere, it was recently confirmed that she will be hosting her own two-hour show on BBC Radio 2 on Friday nights from 7pm until 9pm starting July 15.

For fans wondering what they can expect when tuning in, she said: “A lot of great music! I’m going to be there, it’ll be camp, it’ll be fun, but a lot of wonderful music, that’s what it’s about. I’m super excited.”

The Madonna superfan says that the Material Girl will 100% be on the agenda.

Visage also teased that new music of her own might be on the horizon.

Back in the 90s she was part of R&B and dance vocal group Seduction, has collaborated with long-time friend RuPaul Charles on multiple occasions and most recently teamed up with popgroup Steps for their 2021 reworked track Heartbreak In This City.

She said: “I’ve met with some producers so possibly! It was a really fun turn with Steps and it kind of ignited that little popstar inside of me, so maybe!”

ASICS has teamed up with Michelle Visage to get people moving for 15 minutes and 9 seconds this June. Every video or image posted using #ASICS1509 will help to raise funds for Mind. To find out more click here.

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