RuPaul’s Drag Race judges spilled the beans

She is a former member of the US girl group Persuasion, who went on to become a radio star while she was an Aussie comedian of stage and screen. Michelle Visage, 53, and Rhys Nicholson, 32, join the 61-year-old extraordinary transvestite RuPaul as judges on the cult reality series. RuPaul’s Drag Race on the Bottom, Filmed here in Aotearoa.

They’re chatting here women day It’s about judging New Zealand and Australia’s best drag scenes, what to expect from season two, and what we Kiwis have learned from life.

Congratulations on the success of Drag Race Down Under. We’re so glad you’re back! What did you learn from the first season?
Michelle: One thing I’ve learned from the Australasian queens I spoke with is that parents here tend to be more accepting of their queer children. Many of these children’s mothers went to their shows and helped drag them along. There seems to be a more loving and welcoming culture here.
Rhys: I learned that lighting is everything! Totally selfish, the only reason I did season two is because if you look at season one, I’ve never been in the right light. I clearly had no idea how to get on TV and I was always leaning forward because I was so excited to be there!

What was your most memorable moment from the first season?
Rhys: Meeting Ru! When the lights came on for the first time and I saw Ru standing at the top of the podium, it might have been the fullest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Then the girls got in line and I said, “This is going to be bad.”k-off season!”
Michelle:** Definitely episode one when those queens take the stage. A smaller stage and a smaller studio but nothing small was their heart, their love, their dedication and excitement. It was an incredible feeling.


What is it like working here in Aotearoa?
Michelle: We love New Zealand! It’s a place on the to-do list for everyone I talk to, and you don’t fully realize how special it is when you live here. This place is magical and its people are wonderful, loving, kind and sweet. I love being on the water and the beaches, especially Kohimarama – it’s beautiful. We went to Devonport, which is very quaint and old-fashioned, like Hobbiton, Waiheke Island, and Martha’s Vineyard in America. I loved them all!
Rhys: I am also deeply obsessed with New Zealand. I’ve been coming here for years and I don’t know why more Australians aren’t coming. But maybe we should keep it to ourselves, or they’ll come and ruin everything!

Do you find kiwi slang confusing?
Michelle: Yeah! There is one that confuses both Ru and me. We were in a store and someone said, “Honey!” said. And Ru said, “Did he just say I have a sweet ass?” We were cracking up and I was like, “No, I think it’s “sweet,” “sweet as fuck.” So this is something new and cute that I’m bringing back to America.

If you could have absolutely anyone as a Drag Race guest judge, who would it be?
Rhys: Dolly Parton seems like the obvious choice, and Jacinda Ardern. So, it’s been a bit busy for the past few years. There was also Taika Waititi in the first season via video link, but it would be great to see her in the room. Mainly I just want to meet Taika!
Michelle: Madonna, but everyone knows that! And Rhys is right – we always wanted Dolly. I would also love for Kylie Minogue to sit there in person. And I want Kath and Kim to be there.

How would you describe the Down Under drag culture?
Michelle: He is fantastic. I mean, you think of Priscilla and you think of Australia – it’s very campy.
Rhys: Aussie and Kiwi drag can be really rough and tough, but that’s how I like it. We’re not obsessed with taking a look and lip syncing the perfect Beyoncé – we’re all about authenticity, and I’m obsessed with it.

How will this season of Drag Race be different?

Michelle: This question is asked a lot and the answer is simple – queens are different! And when the queens are different, the show is different. The format stays pretty much the same because people love it.
Rhys: This year’s show is wonderfully filled with gory drama. I’m really excited for people to watch it and get to know the girls.