“I can’t work out because I have to watch so much.”
We never thought we’d witness Michelle Visage bickering with her husband over his “loud” breathing habits or serving Union Flag-fashionista as she scoops up dog poop in her back garden, but here we are… This is lockdown!
This week, the legendary Drag Race judge launched her first ever solo series for the BBC titled How’s Your Head Hun?, in which she invites viewers into her home, chats with showbiz pals and attempts “lockdown projects” with the help of her family.
“The whole point of this show is to let people know that they’re not alone. We’ve been through a lot of things in this lifetime where we can say, ‘You’re not alone. I’m here for you. We’re in this together,'” Michelle tells GAY TIMES.
“But really, this is the first time in our lifetime where the entire world is in this together. What I wanted to show is that the majority of the world are not the Kardashians, we don’t have pools and guest houses, people that clean and cook.”
To celebrate the release of How’s Your Head, Hun? we caught up with Michelle over Zoom to discuss how her family is coping in lockdown, why entertaintment like this is needed right now, and the advice she’d give to struggling queer youth.
There’s also some stuff about Michelle’s pups, what she’s binging on Netflix right now and slight outrage over Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s undying support for Donald Trump (not Sarah Michelle Gellar, phew).
I can’t hear you babe.
Am I on mute? Oh wait…
There you are!
Sorry, I’m still getting used to Zoom! How are you Michelle?
I’m good how are you?
I know! We all are and that’s alright though, right?
I thought this was going to be a video chat, but I’m actually quite glad because my hair is a trainwreck.
Well, here’s the newsflash: I get to see you because you allowed your video on.
[Laughs] I think it looks lovely, so don’t you worry! I’m also loving your wallpaper.
Thank you, mum did it herself.
Oh I love it! Are you at mum’s?
Yeah, I escaped back to Devon maybe a week after we did our last interview? I didn’t want her to be on her own!
Yes I remember! Do you regret it or are you happy?
Oh that warms my heart! I’m super happy about that. Being a mother and having my kid away at uni, and not able to come home yet, it warms my heart that you’re there with her.
Is Lillie stuck there?
Yeah she’s at uni, she just finished last night and she’s like, ‘Okay, can I come home now?’ So now I’m trying to find a way to get her home that’s the least invasive, and then what do I do when I get her home? Do you know what I mean? It’s a conundrum.
I’m glad to hear she’s not using this time to party…
Yeah she’s not that girl. She’s a good girl.
I used to be that girl…
[Laughs] Things change! She’s only 20 so she still has time.
How are you and your family during this time?
We’re doing alright, missing Lillie greatly. Normally, this household is a whirlwind because I’m in for a day or two and then I’m back out to the UK, so it’s a lot of back and forth. For the first time in a long time, it’s kind of like we’re all being a bit harmonious now. I will say we’re working five days a week, sometimes six days a week, doing this show. We get up with purpose, whereas in the beginning my purpose was to get up and eat! Then rest, watch some telly, eat some more. Now there’s a bit of a different purpose, because I can do all of that, just with cameras running and makeup on. It’s okay, we’re getting on alright for four of us and two dogs…
You adopted a new puppy recently, right?
Yeah! We got a new puppy just before I left for Strictly, believe it or not. I hadn’t seen her for five months while I was over there and when I came home, she remembered me! I was so afraid she wasn’t going to. Lola, my youngest daughter, says, ‘Oh my god, she follows you everywhere. That dog is obsessed with you.’ I’m definitely a dog person, and dogs know dog people for sure, but I didn’t expect her to be by my side. We already have a Pitbull rescuer and a nine-year-old Staffie, and he was the smartest dog we ever had. Then, we rescued Daisy and she was a really tough street dog. Now, she’s the smartest dog we’ve ever had. We’ve been working on the training and all that stuff while we’re in quarantine.
How are all your dogs so intelligent? What are you doing in that household?
Obviously, look at their mother. I am brilliant! I’ve had smart dogs, and I’m not trying to make a statement here because a lot of people disagree, it’s not a popular opinion, but they’re the smartest breed of dog I’ve had. They’re much maligned, they should not be… it’s about the owner not the dog. You’re either a dog person or a cat person, you could be both, but we’re definitely a dog household. If you’re lucky enough to have a foster dog, they bring much-needed lightness to your day. They’re unconditional with their love and support. I love it.
Other than training dogs, eating and shooting a TV show, how are you keeping entertained in lockdown? What is Michelle Visage watching right now?
I started rewatching Desperate Housewives and I’m on season four. I hadn’t watched it since it came out and I forgot how absolute camp it was. I’ve just got to the tornado. It’s definitely giving me all I need. I just finished Hollywood, which is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time. Patti LuPone as the star… she’s finally getting what she deserves! Also, I’m halfway through Unorthodox. It’s incredible and if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it. I’m also watching Normal People, have you heard about that one?
Someone in the office said they binged it in one day, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.
It’s an Irish love story and it’s so well acted. It’s a real love story, type of situation. It’s really Irish and I love that, because Irish stories don’t get told enough in my opinion.
I’m taking that advice on board because I watched Derry Girls just because of how much you tweeted about it.
[Laughs] Did you love it?
I watched all of it in one day.
THANK YOU! Derry Girls is amazing. Normal People is Southern and it’s definitely the antithesis of Derry Girls! So get ready to cry. I also started rewatching Glee and season three of This Is Us. I say this as someone who has shows on the air, there is so much content and not enough time in one day! Ooh, I also finished True Blood with my husband because we have a date night every night to watch it. It’s camp as fuck. It’s gay pandering at its finest. I’m telling myself that I can’t work out because I have to watch so much. What are you watching?
I’m rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for like, the 200th time.
And the movie?
Is it Kristy Swanson?
Didn’t she come out as a die-hard Trump supporter?
Eww! Are you sure that’s her? I know Stacey Dash is. Is Kristy Swanson a Trump supporter?!
Yeah, and I was devastated because BUFFY cannot support TRUMP. Even though she’s not the Buffy…
Oh my god, you’re so right. Eww! “Make America not a bunch of whiny ass bitches again.” Oh my god, she’s a Trump supporter.
If Sarah Michelle Gellar ever came out as a Trump supporter, I’d fully die.
We can’t have you dying, but I don’t think you have to worry about that. This is shocking! Shocking! Alright, I will never support that movie again. Just watch the series.
How’s Your Head, Hun?
Haven’t had any complaints, yes!
Why is it important to have entertainment like this right now?
I think the whole point of this show is to let people know that they’re not alone. We’ve been through a lot of things in this lifetime where we can say, ‘You’re not alone. I’m here for you. We’re in this together.’ But really, this is the first time in our lifetime – hopefully the last – where the entire world is in this together. What I wanted to show is that the majority of the world are not the Kardashians, we don’t have pools and guest houses, people that clean and cook. Obviously there’s still the 1% above and a lot of per cent below the line of poverty, but for the majority of us, we kinda live the same life. I wanted people to sit down once a week, turn on BBC Three and laugh, cry, feel and just realise that we’re all in this together. I am a bit off when it comes to doing things the normal way, I don’t take the easy route and I think there’s a lot of that; us trying to figure out how our daughter will graduate high school without a real graduation. We have her boyfriend quarantining with us, who I’ve never even met before! I said he could live here, but what are they doing in my house? There’s a lot going on. I don’t want people to think about what’s going on outside, at least for 30 minutes once a week. If I can do that, and bring people into the other side of me which isn’t the Drag Race side, then I think my job will be done.
You’re very well accustomed to reality television, unlike your family. Did they have any hesitation going into it?
Well, I’m accustomed to television when I go to the studio – definitely not used to having it in the house! And I’m definitely not used to my husband being the sound guy, the lighting guy, the camera guy, the actor guy. He’s doing all of it and he’s brilliant. I don’t say that often or lightly, so… When I pitched it to them, obviously everybody had to be on board because there are cameras everywhere, as well as mental health days where people say, ‘I can’t do this right now’ and that’s very real. I think they’re doing a great job, considering none of them… My husband has experience but the last time he acted was many many years ago. I went to them and said, ‘You don’t have to do it, if you don’t we won’t.’ It’s one of those cases where we all had to be on board, including a complete stranger who’s living with us, so it’s a different situation but I’m loving it. So yes, I’m used to doing it in a studio, but I’m certainly not used to having it in my house.
Michelle, have you completely erased your time on Celebrity Big Brother?
Well because it’s not the same as far as cameras rolling 24/7. I didn’t want that because that’s a bit much. I did my time on Big Brother and this is not Big Brother, so we’re not trying to start fights with our kids, we’re not trying to make stuff happen for good television. This is just real life and how we’re dealing with the pandemic, and how I get away from my husband when I knock him out – things like that! It’s a real family in a real situation, that’s it. I want you all to laugh and I want you all to be part of my life, and that’s why I’m letting everybody in. We’re all similar in so many ways, I’m not any different from anybody else.
I’m excited for your lewks because I loved the Princess Leia-inspired hairdo you rocked in the trailer.
Well babe, you’re going to get loads of that. I can do my own makeup and I can dress myself but one thing I cannot do is my hair. That’s why every time you see me out a gig, my hair is in a bun or a topknot because I’ve done it myself. Now that the grey is coming in, I thought, ‘Let me just part it and do the space buns, and everyone can see what’s happening.’ The lewks I’ll be turning out are very pedestrian. They are very basic. Basic bitches definitely wanted in this, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got and I’m going to have a red lip on. That’s all that matters.
What advice would you give to queer people in lockdown right now, who are perhaps struggling because they’re not out at home or their families don’t accept them?
Yeah, there’s a lot of that going on right now, along with mental health on the uptake and domestic issues. LGBTQ+ kids are finding themselves in situations where they are not feeling safe or are in danger. I would say that, if they can, keep to themselves and know that this isn’t forever, they will be able to get out. They will be able to get help. There is going to be a new normal and they will be able to get out of their situation soon. Hang tight. Now, in my opinion, probably wouldn’t be the best time to come out if they hadn’t come out or if they don’t feel secure. I recommend staying in place and as regular as they can be, meaning life as they know it, as they can be without bucking the system too much; until they know they can get to a safe space. If they aren’t in a safe situation, there are many numbers and places that they can call. Their safety is first and foremost. I know it’s scary and it’s uncertain, but I do promise that there are people out there that can and will help. Safety first. It’s scary times right now for a lot of people, which is why we have to get that message out there, that there is help and they will be okay.
The first episode of How’s Your Head, Hun? is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.