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EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Visage wants Boris Johnson to ‘sashay away’

Reiss Smith October 3, 2019
Michelle Visage holding a book

Michelle Visage on the set of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. (BBC)

Drag Race linchpin and RuPaul’s right hand woman Michelle Visage has passed her judgement on prime minister Boris Johnson—and it isn’t 10s across the board.

Between the arrival of Drag Race UK and her turn on Strictly Come Dancing, 2019 has been a stellar year for Visage, a self-described anglophile.

“I don’t think you guys know how much this country means to me,” she told PinkNews.

“I absolutely love it. I feel like I’m home when I walk the streets, it’s very bizarre. If you believe in past lives, which I clearly do, in a past life I was a gay British man of some sort.”

There are many reasons for Visage’s love affair with the UK — our irreverent humour and distinct culture chief among them — but not, it seems, the state of our current politics.

Michelle Visage on the Drag Race UK judging table with RuPaul, Graham Norton and Maisie Williams
Michelle Visage on the Drag Race UK judging table with RuPaul, Graham Norton and Maisie Williams. (BBC)

“Boris Johnson can definitely sashay away,” she said of the prime minister’s charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.

As for the rest of the Commons: “I’m not sure if any of them would [shantay] at this point.”

The timing of Drag Race UK‘s arrival feels prescient — a shot of unabashed LGBT+ pride at a time when the community feels increasingly vulnerable to both violent and political attacks.

“I’m not sure if any of them would shantay at this point.

Speaking on the impact of the ever-looming Brexit on the series, Visage said the series “definitely has comments to make and statements to say”.

In the grand tradition of its parent show, Drag Race UK makes these critiques with a wry smile, and doesn’t dwell for too long on the negative.

“It’s not really a political show,” Visage said. “We’ve got enough [politics] — we need to laugh.”

Michelle did Celebrity Big Brother for Drag Race UK.

The singer, actor and judge’s love affair with the UK has spanned decades. She first visited aged 13, and in recent years has become a regular fixture on British and Irish screens.

For most of the general public, their first introduction to the New Jersey-native came in 2015 when she took part in Celebrity Big Brother — which she now admits she did purely to raise Drag Race‘s profile.

“I did it to get this show on the map,” she said. “I’ve been here for the past five years, trying to get this show made. We have met with every single commissioner and every single channel and it took the BBC to have the balls to do it. But it was meant to happen when it happened.”

Michelle Visage and Katie Hopkins
Michelle Visage competed in Celebrity Big Brother 2015 opposite Katie Hopkins. (Channel 5)

When fans tune in to the series for the first time on Thursday, they should expect to “freak out”.

“It looks so similar,” she said. “You’ve got Ru sitting there, you got me sitting there, you’ve got [judges] Graham Norton and Alan Carr, but then you’ve got a group of British queens.”

On the differences between the cast and their American counterparts, Visage said that it “isn’t fair” to expect the same level of aesthetic.

“It’s a different thing. British drag fundamentally is different. I think British drag looks gorgeous but they really care the most about the production. I think that’s the fundamental difference, and I love that.”

Michelle Visage ‘lives’ for British humour.

Previews of the show promise a series firmly rooted in British humour, something Visage “lives for.”

“Why I love this country so much is because British humour is so sarcastic and so dry and so funny. And Ru is an Aussie-phile and the Australian sense of humour is very similar.”

Proudly, she said that there “wasn’t really anything” that got lost in translation—unsurprising for a woman who counts Gemma Collins and Bobby Norris among her friends.

“If Ru didn’t get any of the references, I was very proud of myself in being able to deliver the information. But then there was also Graham and Alan too, who are so talented and so strong in their own right.”

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race UK
The queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. (BBC)

RuPaul has already predicted that Drag Race UK will run “for years to come”, and Visage has high hopes for the future.

“Meghan Markle has a standing invite, so does the Queen,” she said.

Slightly more realistic targets include Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, who Visage would love to see judge an Ab Fab challenge.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be on for 10, maybe 12 series to come, so everybody will get a chance.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK begins tonight (October 3), available at 8pm on iPlayer.

More: Boris Johnson, Drag Race UK, Michelle Visage, RuPaul's Drag Race

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