Michelle Visage Is Not-So-Secretly the Greatest Living Television Host

Illustration for article titled Michelle Visage Is Not-So-Secretly the Greatest Living Television Host
Screenshot: Youtube

Either RuPaul has kept Michelle Visage’s light under a bushel because this is actually a Showgirls-type scenario, and any minute there’s bound to be some pearls on the floor. Or, this lady is the humblest person on the planet, because I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that she isn’t the most successful working television host in human history.

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Over the pandemic, with RuPaul’s Drag Race worldwide put on temporary hiatus, Michelle Visage, with all her newfound Strictly Come Dancing fame over in Londontown, launched an at-home talk show aimed at British viewers on BBC Three, How’s Your Head Hun. I missed it during its original run, thanks to that overseas paywall (and my reluctance to add another streaming service to the credit card), but thankfully, all episodes are now live on Wow Presents Plus, the streaming service catered to the world of drag that RuPaul, Visage, and so many queens helped build this last decade.

Let me cut to it: I devoured this build-a-talk-show in one sitting.

On Drag Race and its many spin-offs, Visage is often cast as the hard-nosed villain judge, and one of the few presenters willing to tell a bitch their hemline looks fucked up. She’s been criticized for it, but it’s a necessary antidote to the overwhelming antipathy for the medium that RuPaul radiates. Where the Queen Herself now seems wooden and out-of-touch, Visage’s banter with the contestants, and her love for the art form and this worldwide crusade she’s been enlisted into, has kept her perspective fresher than most. She can dish it and she can take it, all with a ponytail so tight it gives me a migraine and hoop earrings that touch the floor.

More recently, she’s launched a plethora of non-Drag Race ventures, like her stint on hit dance competition Strictly Come Dancing, or a goofy pop single (which I loved) with Steps. Not to mention a bestselling book, The Diva Rules, back in 2015, and all sorts of international drag tours and events and Drag Con appearances and whatnot. The lady is busy!

But in the hullabaloo around drag’s ascension to the mainstream, and the perils that came with it, I’ve often felt that her genuine talents for entertainment and television have been lost in the shuffle. RuPaul is so magnanimous and outsized a figure that he dwarfs his co-stars and collaborators just by entering the room. But Miss Visage is stepping up.

How’s Your Head Hun? follows a recognizable format. It starts with an interview with a British celebrity, then transitions into reality television-style lifestyle content, like her misadventures having her husband dye her hair, or planning a backyard prom for her daughter, who graduated high school in 2020. There’s also a tea time questions interlude, a second celebrity appearance—the Leah Remini episode had me doubled over screaming—and some sort of spoof, whether that’s baking a cake, selecting eyewear for the Zoom finale of Drag Race, or embarrassing her daughter with her sequin glove collection.

Most shockingly, however, is just how normal her life is. She has a classic suburban two-story in the Valley, a totally regular kitchen, and furniture that just says: I’m a woman with kids and a family and life is actually kind of cool and simple. Beyond the glamorized portrait she puts out into the drag world, there is an unmistakable depth to Visage, with deeply heartfelt convictions about womanhood, love, motherhood, and family-making. She cares deeply for her friends and invites any and all she meets into her home as if they were her own. For all the camp and often cringe-y pandemic anxiety—the show was put together in the early days—I was glued to the television. I want more Michelle Visage. Television needs more Michelle Visage.

DISCUSSION

kiisseli
kiisseli

I watched the embedded clip and was absolutely charmed. It sucks that saying she has ‘mom energy’ or that she’s ‘maternal’ comes across as a dig, like I’m calling her uncool or something, because I really don’t mean that - I think at her best on Drag Race, she really champions and roots for the queens without letting them off the hook when they haven’t quite met the assignment. Watching her literally be a mom, in a reasonable facsimile of her actual life?? Of COURSE that hits right.