Fans of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ have had plenty to sink their teeth into during the most recent series of ‘All Stars’, which is currently airing in the US.
Adore Delano, an early hot favourite for the ‘All Stars’ crown, shocked fans when she became the first queen in ‘Drag Race’ herstory to walk away from the show, after getting a dressing down from judge Michelle Visage on the main stage. The drama doesn’t stop there, though, with competitor Phi Phi O’Hara later repeatedly speaking out against the show, accusing producers of giving her an unfair edit.
Ahead of her appearance on the ‘Christmas Queens’ UK tour, we got all the T from Michelle about Phi Phi’s comments, the backlash she faced after Adore’s elimination and even season nine of ‘Drag Race’, which will air in 2017...
There’s plenty to discuss about the new series of ‘All Stars’, let’s start with Adore. Was it a big surprise when she walked?
Yes, absolutely. Adore is a fighter, so the fact that she walked was a little shocking to me. I understand her choice, because if she didn’t want to be there, why should she stay there? If I didn’t want to be there, I would have left too. I do believe that if she really wanted to be there, she would have stayed, so…
When you watch it, and you realise she didn’t want to be there, and she’s spoken since, again, if you don’t want to be somewhere, why put yourself in that position?
Do you still stand by your comments to Adore on the main stage?
I 100 per cent stand by what I said. I prefaced it by saying, “this is ‘All Stars 2’, so I’m absolutely taking no prisoners. This is the best of the best in the game”, and I felt that she came on a little... less than what I had hoped for. I feel like, at least, for the first runway, show me everything you got.
That doesn’t mean change who you are, that doesn’t mean be something you’re not, it means step up your game to the ultimate, at the very least for the first time you’re presenting. Because the last time we saw you, was on your season. I was hoping they’d all come with their A-games to show everybody how they’ve grown in their drag since they left the show. I love Adore, and I love Adore’s style, I just wanted it to be really stepped up, and I didn’t feel that it was.
And, of course, they didn’t show me talking about how great the performance was or anything like that, because that wasn’t as important. It was covered by other judges. She always sings great, she always performs great, and she knows that I love her, but to me, I felt let down.
We did see you apologising to her before she left in the following episode...
I apologised to her, because I don’t ever want anyone to… I didn’t apologise for what I said, and I still don’t apologise for what I said, it’s my job. It’s my job to critique drag, and the challenge was not just the performance. The challenge of ‘Drag Race’ is always the appearance and the challenge. It’s never just the challenge. It’s always the combination. My apology was because I love her, and I didn’t want her to think that it was something that it wasn’t.
You took some heat from fans over your comments to Adore too, how did that make you feel?
I took a lot of heat. Death wishes… all that shit. It comes with the territory, so it didn’t really affect me. But what made me sad about the whole thing was a) this is a TV show, this isn’t real life, b) Adore and I are actually friends, for those that don’t know, c) Kids that I fight for every day when given a platform, every minute of every hour of every day that I can, I fight for these kids. I fight for them not to be bullied, I fight for their rights. And these are the first kids to attack me.
These kids with blocked accounts, you can’t see them but you can see they’re 15, 16 years old, same age as my own children… the first thing I did was ran home and said to my kids, ‘please promise me, as your mother, that you’ll never treat another human being the way I’m being treated right now’. And they looked me and said, ‘I swear, I’ll never, ever talk to anybody that way’. It’s kind of sad.
That seems to completely go against the the message of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, the messages of inclusivity and honesty, which must have been disappointing?
Yeah, and if you watch it back. I really didn’t say anything hateful. At all. Adore and I were texting each other when it aired, and when all that happened, she was like, ‘I am disgusted by what I’m seeing out there’. But it didn’t disgust me, it actually made me sad, because these are the kids who are not getting the message. They’re missing the point. They’re not understanding what we’re fighting for here. They’re just perpetuating a really, really bad reputation that we’re getting within the community. And it’s not good.
The beautiful thing about ‘Drag Race’ is it’s the most inclusive television show, probably on the planet. It’s the place where kids go because they feel like they don’t fit in anywhere else, it’s the place they go to feel safe. It’s the place they go, even though they’re a weirdo and they’re not “the norm”, there are other people who are just like them. And that’s why when the kids turned and attacked me like nothing I’ve ever seen, it didn’t make me angry, it just made me sad. Because, whatever the issue is, whether it’s entitlement or whatever, it’s kind of eclipsing the fact that we’ve got work to do. And it’s obvious, after that happened.
Again, everybody’s going to have their own opinion, but there’s no place for hate in any of it.
Even the way that people are throwing hate at Phi Phi [O’Hara, a recently-eliminated contestant on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’]. Phi Phi can say whatever she wants, I don’t really care. But at the same time, nobody should be saying such awful, awful things. It’s just. A fucking. Television show.
Let’s talk about Phi Phi, what do you have to say about her comments that she’s been given a “villain edit”?
Listen, I love Phi Phi. Phi Phi knows I love Phi Phi. But I don’t know what a “villain edit” is. I could say the same thing, that they edit me to be a “villain”, but at the end of the day, I say what I say. Nobody puts words in my mouth, that’s why when you ask me if I stand by what I said to Adore, of course!
My friendship with her is separate from her on the TV show. I think it’s upsetting that it’s come to this because, you know… this has been a great outlet for her artistry. It’s a shame, but it’s the way that things go sometimes.
And RuPaul has been my best friend for more than 20 years, and has done nothing but great things for me - and let me tell ya, there’s been a lot of times I’ve sat on that panel and looked like a monster for the things that I’ve said. But I said it, I can’t blame Ru for it.
I’ve never had a problem with Phi Phi, and I never will. I’m friends with Jaremi [Carey, Phi Phi’s name out of drag] separate from what happened on the show. I’m not going to comment because that’s his storyline, not mine. I’m still going on with the show, I’ll still be here season 20.
I love what the show does, I love the way that the show has storylines to follow. If I were sweet, Paula Abdul every episode, it wouldn’t be as exciting as me being who I truly am and being tough with these girls.
RuPaul just won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality TV Host. It’s his award, but it must feel like a victory for the show too?
It is a victory for the show, but it’s 100 per cent RuPaul’s Emmy, and I don’t want anybody to take away from the fact that RuPaul won the Emmy. This is Ru’s Emmy - we’re all part of the family, but he owns it, and it’s the most amazing and exciting thing that I could have witnessed. To be by his side was the most unbelievable experience.
His Emmys outfit also felt like a real statement...
That’s Ru - that’s just him being true to who he is. He’s amazing, he’s independent and he marches to the beat of his own drummer.
Season nine of ‘Drag Race’ just wrapped up filming - how would you describe the new batch of queens?
Intense. For season nine, some of these queens have grown up watching the show, so they’re here to frigging play.
What’s the most exciting part of hitting the road with a bunch of fabulous drag queens for the ‘Christmas Queens’ UK tour?
Well I hit the road with a bunch of drag queens every year, sometimes two times a year. Again, as such a fan of drag, it’s the art form that excites me and the longform presentation that they do. So it’s super exciting to be with them, doing what they love to do, and doing it well.
Listen, any time you get to see a bunch of drag queens performing music and performing songs and being idiots, I’m in.
Michelle Visage and fellow ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ stars Alaska, Manila Luzon, Katya and Phi Phi O’Hara will be touring the UK in December for the ‘Christmas Queens’ tour. For more information, including glamorous VIP packages, click here.