Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has assembled some of New York’s most glamorous, creatively talented, sparkling queens that nightlife has to offer. Alexis Michelle has for years hoped to be one of RuPaul’s selected, and finally her vision has turned into reality.
A theatrical queen, Alexis Michelle is a true performer. She attended the University of Michigan in musical theater and has an acting background. Her drag career began with a weekly show with Schwa de Vivre, but became impressive after winning “So You Think You Can Drag,” season 5. From there she soon became one of New York’s most requested queens.
Alexis, what was your exact feeling when you received the call that you were chosen to compete in this season’s “Drag Race”?
It was like it was real, and it was like it wasn’t real. It was amazing, but I also have been waiting for this moment for many years.
Yes, I know.
I couldn’t have this big, cathartic, celebratory moment, because I was almost 100% painted for a Friday night show. It was 10 o’clock when I got the call on the East Coast. I kind of had to just put it on the shelf. It was my little secret for the night. My little, fun secret. Later that night, after the gig, no clothes on, just my makeup, and I was laying on the sofa. I looked at Instagram, and I came across a picture of a bunch of my favorite “RuPaul” girls doing a meet and greet for an event that they had. I had this moment, and I gasped! Oh my God, my sisters. I even whispered it to myself. It was so exciting. It’s always meant so much to me to be a part of this sisterhood, and so that was the moment, many hours later, that I had that moment. I’m in the club!
You have been wanting to do this for some time now. What does being on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” mean to you?
It means everything to me. It means a lot to me to be able to represent a lot of queens who like to do the kind of thing I do. It means a lot to me to be on for my own expression, to be able to get to express what I want to express for such a big and wide-reaching platform. I don’t take it lightly. I feel that there is a responsibility that comes with that, to be there for the people who support the show. That’s what makes “Drag Race” so incredible. Not only the tremendous personalities and talents on the program, but also the incredible people that support the program. It has an amazing following, so there is a responsibility that we have to really be there for the people that love that show.
What would you want to say to the fans and followers of the show and to your own fan club?
I would say never give up on something that means a lot to you. Whether that means pursuing a dream or standing up and speaking out for what you think is right, never give up. My little journey that I have been on is a testament to the fact that it’s worth it. It’s worth sticking it out. It’s worth speaking out. Just like Hillary Clinton said, speak up for what you believe in, and it will be worth it.
Is there anything that you’d like to promote for yourself?
The last time we talked, I was getting ready for my first 54 Below debut show. Well, now I’m doing a headliner run there. Once a month in March, April, May and June you can catch me at 54 Below doing my show, “It Takes a Woman.”
Do we have those dates?
The next one is March 28. It’s a Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.; then Friday, April 7, at 9:30; May 16 on a Tuesday at 9:30; and June 13, a Tuesday, at 9:30.
We’ve spoken a lot in the past about drag, but tell me once again, how did you begin? What was the moment that changed your life?
The first time that I did drag was Halloween. I think the life-changing moment for me was about three years ago. It was right around this time; my life changed a lot. A relationship ended, my beloved dog died and I found myself with part survival to dive in to drag. It was part survival and part distraction, but it really saved me, because it’s such a joyous, expressive thing to do. So diving into drag full time three years ago was the turning point where I said, “I’ve seen a lot in life, I have more perspective, and I just have to keep doing this.” This was part of my destiny. I always felt that way about “Drag Race” too, that it was part of my destiny. So three years ago when I had this moment, I decided this is the road I’m on, and I can’t deny it. I have to take that road.
Do you feel that being on “Drag Race” is a life-changing experience, and if so, how?
Oh, absolutely! It’s life-changing in that all of a sudden a lot more people know you and hopefully support you, although you can’t please everybody. It’s life-changing also in that I’ll really now have an opportunity to perform like I’ve never been able to perform. I’ll be able to be making a living doing this. Even when I started doing it full time, I was still working multiple jobs. So I’m looking forward to this being my career for a while.
What will you be doing if you win?
I will hope that I can, like I said, be the queen that all the people want, be someone who is entertaining and funny and glamorous. As I said before, and I will continue to say, if I take that crown you can be sure I will use my voice as best I can to spread the message of love and inclusion as opposed to people feeling left out. That’s not what I’m about. If I am chosen by Mama Ru to wear the crown, I’m going to keep spreading her a message of love.
How do you feel that “Drag Race” helps today’s society cope with everything that is going on out there?
I think “Drag Race” helps, because “Drag Race” is an example of truth. I think a lot of trouble we have in the world comes from the fact that people are not honest with themselves or with each other. I think that when people live their truths, we move closer to a more authentic society.
What kind of advice would you give to those wishing to be on “Drag Race,” or young drag queens starting out?
When it comes to doing drag, my advice is, just do whatever it is you want to do. Whatever story you want to tell, tell that story. You don’t have to worry about trying to tell a story that you think people want to hear. If you really tell your story, people will respond to that.