Michelle Visage addresses backlash surrounding casting of cishet queen Maddy Morphosis
7 January 2022, 12:08 | Updated: 7 January 2022, 12:11
We sat down with Michelle Visage to talk all things Drag Race season 14, why "all drag matters", and the inaugural season of Drag Race UK vs. The World.
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Honestly, what was the world like before RuPaul's Drag Race? The show has blessed us with countless seasons, numerous spin-offs and brought the art of drag to the mainstream.
Drag Race returns for its fourteenth season on Friday (or Saturday 8 January on WOW Presents Plus if you're watching from the UK) and it's set to be a wild ride. This season includes the first cisgender heterosexual male contestant, Maddy Morphosis, in Drag Race herstory, as well as two transgender contestants: Kerri Colby and Kornbread "The Snack" Jeté.
So, it's only right that we caught up with our favourite Drag Race judge Michelle Visage to discuss all things season 14 including all the iconic guest judges, controversial castings, and the upcoming debut season of Drag Race UK vs. The World, which will see queens from various franchises worldwide compete against each other for the first time.
PopBuzz: Drag Race season 14 is going to start today. What were your first impressions about the queens on season 14? And did anyone stand out immediately?
Michelle: There's always a few that stand out initially. And you think you know who they are, and then twists and turns happen and it's always like, oh, okay there's kind of a chink in the armour and you can kind of see things. They start out strong and can't live up to it. That's why I always say to some of them: "That's a high bar you set for yourself." And you want to live up to it. A lot of the time they do and sometimes they don't. So there's always some standouts, but I like seeing the twists and turns. And I like seeing the underdogs pull up at the end. That's like my favourite thing when it starts kind of tightening and the belt starts tightening, tightening, and they kind of step on the gas at the right time. And that's just so so smart. So it's an incredible group, every series, they just get stronger and stronger, because my theory is they've basically grown up watching RuPaul's Drag Race this is all they've ever wanted out of life. And they seize the moment.
PopBuzz: The show's been going on for a long time, it's changed a lot, and people have been saying that the lineup is getting more inclusive. We have two trans competitors this year – what are your thoughts on that? And why is it important to have more trans queens on the show?
Michelle: What's important is to have all queens. I feel like it's always, you know, been a thing where if your audition is good, then you'll get on the show, everybody is welcome, which is I think, you know, that's what it's kind of all about.
So you asked me why it's important. It's important because all drag is valid. All drag matters. So if you're good enough, then you'll get on. I don't think it matters [if] you're heteronormative, cisgender, trans - whatever the thing is - are you a good drag queen? If you are then good luck, may the best drag queen win.
PopBuzz: And that leads into Maddy Morphosis. There's been a lot of talk about her being included as a cishet man. What would you say to people that say that Maddy shouldn't be included on the show?
Michelle: But that goes against everything we're talking about? We're talking about being fully inclusive. And at the end of the day, are they a good drag queen? And that's really what it's about, you know.
For me when I when I first entered the LGBTQIA+ community and in the Harlem ballroom scene, nobody looked like me. I was in a house with people of colour and they welcomed me in. I had blond hair. I have white skin. I have green eyes. They never said, 'You're not one of us. You can't sit with us'. It's about inclusivity, it's 2022. Everybody has to be able to sit with us. Inclusivity means everybody, you can't just say, 'Oh, well now we include this but not this', right? Everybody has to be welcome and we have to celebrate drag. The end.
PopBuzz: So, let's talk guest judges for season 14. There's some iconic celebs and returning favourites like Lizzo and TS Madison…
Michelle: Well, I love me some Madison TS Madison. That's my sister right there. Oh God, how could you not love her? She is the most and the biggest heart the biggest boobs and… the biggest heart.
Lizzo's just Lizzo. I mean, the best thing about having Lizzo back is when we had her the first time, Ru had always been a massive Lizzo fan. I got to know Lizzo through Ru. But really the world was not on the Lizzo ship yet. So they were like, 'Who's Lizzo?' And I'm not being rude. I mean, we knew who Lizzo was, but the world wasn't ready. Now she's back, a superstar Lizzo, and it's wonderful.
She's always been a great guest judge. But the good thing about guest judges on Drag Race is that every single one is a massive superfan. They're not just like, 'Oh yeah, I've seen the show'. Everybody that comes on is a massive fan of the show. So it's so rewarding for them to sit down and go, 'Okay, you know, I've won an Oscar. I've won an Olivier - whatever - but this is the best moment of my life'. That's so wonderful to hear.
PopBuzz: Do you get to talk to them much in between shooting?
Michelle: It was much easier without COVID restrictions and the perspex in between us. It was a lot easier. But trust me, my favourite thing to do is talk to these celebrities because it is a long day of filming. So we like to break it up and we like to laugh, and a few of them I've gotten on [the show] because they were my friends. And when I say gotten on, when I asked them, they were like, 'Are you kidding? I was waiting for you [to ask]...took you long enough to ask!' So for me, of course, I talk to them. I absolutely have to, you know, crack jokes and have fun and eat lunch and break bread and do whatever we can do with all with plastic between us.
PopBuzz: And Loni Love is also back as a guest judge, and some fans have said they would like to see her as a permanent judge. Would you support that?
Michelle: Loni?! Yeah. Well, we love Loni. Listen, Loni is welcome. Anytime. And I have no idea. I don't do the hiring on the show. But I love Loni. Loni can love anytime she wants up on me.
PopBuzz: And my final question, could you tell us if Drag Race UK vs. The World is going to replace All Stars? And how does it differ from All Stars?
Michelle: Oh, it's totally different. I can't say much. But I can tell you that it is so good. It is so good. It's a format that is very different to regular Drag Race, and even All Stars. I can't wait to film other ones. That's how good it is. It's so exciting to be able to judge queens from around the world. But...it's so hard. It's really hard with these queens because they're really good. It's...you're gonna freak out.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Series 14 premiere’s exclusively in the UK via the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus from 4AM GMT on Saturday 8th January 2022. Subscribe now via https://uk.wowpresentsplus.com/