RuPaul and Michelle Visage go together like sequins and glitter. Their bond and friendship has passed the test of time, and their working relationship is one to be admired. The two have been working since 1996’s “The RuPaul Show,” Michelle has been a permanent judge on her BFF’s competition series, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” since Season 3. Never one to mince words, viewers depend on the Jersey girl’s critiques to bring the tea. While many may misconstrue her tough love for being harsh, Michelle explains that this is how her mama raised her. She tells the brutal honest truth because she cares. Michelle wants to push all the contestants be the best version of themselves.
Before Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” kicks off on Friday night (March 24), we got to speak with our favorite outspoken judge about what it’s like working with Ru, her favorite guest judges of the season, and what viewers can expect from “Drag Race” now that it’s airing on VH1. The 48-year-old singer, radio host, DJ, author of “The Diva Rules,” who’s been with husband David Case for 20 years and has two children, may refer to herself as “the bitch judge,” but we find her to be absolutely endearing and wickedly funny.
Screener: Who’s your favorite guest judge this season?
Michelle Visage: It’s really hard to compete with Lady Gaga. I don’t think that’s fair. So, let’s count her out. I’m a huge B-52’s fan. As a theatre nerd, I was excited to have Cheyenne Jackson. Kesha was a doll.
Everyone wants to be a guest judge.
Everyone DOES. It’s not that we can’t get ’em. They’re touring around the world and have schedules that conflict with ours. But we ask them every year. Madonna. Cher. Liza. Dolly.
Do you have viewing parties?
I watch at home with my husband. I see it all for the first time with the rest of the world. For the most part, I don’t know what’s going on in the work room. And I don’t know any of the girls. I am fully separated from them for a reason. I want to judge what they’re doing on stage, and what I see come down the runway. That’s it. Other than that, I don’t have contact with them. It’s not until afterwards, when we all go on tour that I get to know them. That’s why judging “All-Stars” felt so personal — because I’d worked with them all.
Do you and Ru ever disagree on the winning queen?
We have been friends for a very, very long time. Our chemistry is true because we completely get each other. There has never been an instance for which we haven’t seen eye to eye.
Do you feel extra pressure with the shift to VH1? Will there be a lot of changes going into Season 9?
Not at all. Nothing’s changed. It’s only gotten a little flashier and shinier. The budget has grown, but we super serve the LGBT community. As a mother, when we tour and I see moms with their kids, the one thing that we all have in common is that we all love to watch the show together. If you watch this show, you’re one of us. And we love you for who you are. That’s what’s beautiful about [“Drag Race”].
Do ever look back and feel bad about any of your critiques?
No, I don’t think what I do is harsh. What I do is necessary. I moved from New Jersey to New York City when I was 17, and I was ready to take on the world. Nobody could tell me otherwise. But if I had a mother that coddled me, who knows. For me, when I judge these girls, I want to have the same effect when my mother would tell me I wasn’t good enough: It’s tough love, because I want these girls to be the best that they can be. I want these girls to listen, because what I’m saying is being said for a reason. Start doing it and I will shut up!
How many seasons do you think ‘Drag Race’ will go?
We’re going in Season 10 soon and it’s just growing. Our audience is still steadily climbing, and around the world, the show is growing. We have such an amazing fan base, Seriously, we have the best fans. But we can go so many ways with this show, and there are so many different possible themes, we don’t see an end in sight. I’m more worried about my own upkeep! Gotta make sure everything is staying put. I’ll be 65 and up there judging.