///By Eileen Shapiro
There’s a Queen for Every Season
On Sunday, September 1, The Bunkhouse is proud to present our 31st Annual Miss Long Island Pageant, hosted by the awesome Ariel Sinclair. This year we are honored to have a very qualified and special array of judges, including Monica Storm – former Miss Long Island and owner of The Big Apple Pageant, Jessica Foxx – star of John Ed’s Tranny Strip, Logan Hardcore – former Miss Bunkhouse and fabulous Fire Island queen, Sable Sities – former Miss Fire Island, Charity Charles – the very first Miss Fire Island, our hometown favorite China – a former Mrs. Fire Island who has appeared on Sex in the City, and our very special guest judge Michelle Visage from RuPaul’s
I have been so fortunate to have had an interview with Ms. Visage. From the moment I began the interview I knew that she was a truly gracious and genuine person. Originally hailing from New Jersey, she has done everything from radio to rock star to RuPaul’s BFF and judge. Michelle is a unique individual, honest and full of personality.
We are very excited to have you judge Miss Long Island this year.
I am very excited to be coming out there! I am honored to be asked to do it.
People are very excited to see you. I even have people coming to Long Island from Upstate New York, and that’s REALLY far.
Oh my God! I know! My exboyfriend’s father had a house upstate and I’ll tell you what – they have some places up there where
they only have cows.
True! So people know you as being RuPaul’s bestie. What is it like working with him?
You know, our relationship has been kind of more than just a friendship. Like, I know him for a long time, but we didn’t become good friends until we were working together on the radio. I did some clubs with him in the late ‘80s, but our friendship didn’t grow until we started doing morning shows together on KTU in ’96.
So you’ve been friends for a very long time.
Oh yeah! Oh yeah! It’s a great feeling to be able to work with your best friend, love your best friend. You don’t fight, you just agree to disagree; you always have each other’s back. Real friends are not easy to find.
Of all of the winners of Drag Race who are you most proud of?
I get asked questions like that all of the time, like who my favorites are. It’s virtually impossible to single out one. I’m proud of them all. I can say that Raja, to me, almost didn’t need it. I mean, not to win but didn’t need me to be proud. But, I’m really so proud of Sharon. She’s one of my favorite people because of what she overcame as far as her drag being so different – not mainstream and remaining true to her. But if I had to single out one, right now, who I was most proud of, I would have to say Jynxx.
I put her through the ringer. Like REALLY through the ringer! She listened, she adapted, she learned, and most importantly, she came out strong. That makes me really, really proud.
Yes, she really did come a long way.
Absolutely! Because she was willing to. She was willing to do the work! She was really terrific! She was willing to make subtle changes that changed everything. She’s magical, she performs live, and she is amazing.
Is there anyone that didn’t win that you thought should?
I’m a big fan of Raven. I think in my eyes Raven is the winner of Season II. In my opinion. It’s the only time that I really disagreed with the winner.
A lot of people felt that way.
I mean that’s the way I feel. And maybe, if I had judged it and was there, I would have seen something differently.
The girls entering the pageant are wondering if you are a tough judge and what is it that you look for in a competitor?
I am a tough judge, but I am realistic. I would never ask anyone to do anything completely out of their realm. That’s stupid. I’m tough but I’m not mean. There’s a difference. I know what I’m dealing with and I know what’s in front of me. They don’t get to turn around and do something different. This isn’t the show. I have a different set of rules when I’m judging things in the city or at a venue. I’m critical, but there are reasons. Especially when there are two people gunning for the same position and they’re neck and neck. That’s when you really have to kick into tough judge mode.
I understand that you’re married with a couple of kids.
I am. I just had my 16th anniversary and I have two daughters. One is 11 and one’s 13. As a matter of fact, I was just about to leave. I have a show in Detroit tomorrow night with Jynxx, Sharon and Alaska, but Saturday starts the Jr. Olympics. My 13 year old made Jr. Olympics. She’s a sprinter and hurdler.
That’s so exciting! I’m definitely a mom first and foremost. It might not seem like it, but I think that’s why I’m so tough on these girls.
They’re like my kids. Like my own children, and I love them.
I was happy and surprised to find out that you were married and happily.
Oh? Why is that?
You’re so beautiful and in the spotlight, and that’s a little unusual to find somebody like that happily married and for so long.
Awe – that’s sweet! I’m older. I’m 44, so I mean, if I wasn’t married, I told my husband if we were ever to get a divorce – which would never happen, he’s the only one that can tolerate me – I told him that I would never, ever get married again. It’s too much f****** work! It’s such hard work I mean. I see some couple that are married and life is like butterflies and unicorns. It’s never been like that for me, probably because I’m not easy. But anything worth keeping is worth fighting for. But relationships are not like what these kids think they see on TV, and they need to know that.
So what do your children think of Auntie Ru?
My kids love Ru! My 11 year old is more into it. She’s more that little drag queen. My 13 year old is like … well, she’s 13. She doesn’t care what I do. She doesn’t care to be a part of it. My little one doesn’t miss an episode. They don’t care who I am, I’m just their mother.
I know you’re a really big Madonna fan. Did you ever get to meet her?
I have never met Madonna.
I think you should.
I KNOW I should! I had so many Madonna dreams where she takes me under her wing and I become her prodigy. For 20 years I’ve been having these dreams. I don’t think it’s ever going to come true.
I can tell that she was a really big influence in your life.
Absolutely! I’ll never deny that! She always has been. She’s everything to me, everything, and still is. I mean I love the newer artists but god, we are never going to see in our lifetime what Madonna did. She took over the world, changed the world. I mean I love Lady Gaga. She does great things for the gay community, but it just isn’t the impact that Madonna has.
So do you have any Seduction history? I heard you were invited to join the group.
No, no, I wasn’t invited. I got it through a friend. She was my best friend and had auditioned for the group. I was a secretary in the garment district in NYC. She called me and said, “Oh my god! I just got in this girl group!” I said, “Tell me about it.” She said, “It was a three girl group. A black girl, a white girl and a Puerto Rican girl.” I said “Oh, do they have the white girl yet?” and she said, “I think so.” I said, “Well give me the number and I’ll call them.” She was like “No, I can’t do that.” And I said, “Give me the f****** number!” I called them and they did have the white girl, and I said, “Just let me come in and sing for you, cause I guarantee you she can’t sing like I can. She doesn’t have what I have.” I was ballsy back then; I was 19. And they said “OK,” and I sang for them and they got rid of the girl. Unless there never was one and they were lying. So I auditioned and got it, and nailed it. It was my dream to be a recording artist and with my best friend at the time. It was amazing.
For our Long Island population of baby queens – as a matter of fact, one of the categories for Miss Long Island is Miss Newcomer – do you have any advice for them?
My biggest advice to them, and this happens all the time, the thing that is so brilliant about our show, we get all these kids that are confused. They know that they want to do something, but they’re not sure what. They’re troubled with that gender thing, then they realize that it’s not “that gender thing” and maybe they just want to do drag. So, for these newbies, always be true to yourself, don’t become something that you think society wants you to become, don’t think that you have to be a pretty drag queen. I mean, I love nothing more than a rugged queen, than a dirty queen. I love all kinds of queens. There’s a queen for every season. I actually believe that. If it’s a passion, don’t give up. Learn how to do your makeup, learn how to do your hair line, don’t give up because you find out who you are through your art. It’s what makes you a stronger, better drag queen.
That’s the best advice I’ve heard in a while. I’ve also heard that Season 6 is going to be the best season ever. Is there any truth to that?
Well, the thing about Season 6 is, and I’ve said it to Ru, I’ve said it on the show, that usually every season there are a few what I call sacrificial lambs. They send their videos, Ru looks at every single video tape, but sometimes the video is almost too good, and when they get there they aren’t as good as what the video tape led us to believe. But this season, I feel that every single person on there is a strong contender right out of the box. This is going to be a strong season. Each season has a different tone. I don’t know if it’s better. You know, people have their favorite seasons because of their favorite characters. It’s a personal preference. I mean, that’s what’s so beautiful about drag. There’s so many aspects, so many different types, it’s such a beautiful art form, and that’s what makes me so proud of being part of RuPaul’s dream, because it’s showing the world the hard work and dedication and artistry that’s put into drag as far as an art form.
Is there anything coming up for you that you would like us to promote?
I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to toot my own horn before s*** happens so, when it happens, I promote it. What I’m excited about is doing the Battle of the Season, which is happening right after The Bunkhouse. I’m very excited. You know, this is my first Long Island appearance since appearing on the show. I just hope everyone comes out and has a good time. I’m really excited to be home. I’m a Jersey Girl but lived in Manhattan so, Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens … it’s all part of who I am. I’m just very excited to be home.
I hope that you have a lot of fun on September 1. It’s a pageant that’s been going on for 31 years.
That’s huge! I love pageants, I love the whole thing, and for this to be established so long, that’s major. I’m so excited to be a part of it. I cannot wait!