Michelle Visage

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Michelle Visage
Dana Franks and Michelle Visage (cropped).jpg
Michelle Visage in 2018
Michelle Lynn Shupack

(1968-09-20) September 20, 1968 (age 53)
  • Radio DJ
  • singer
  • actress
  • media personality
  • television host
  • show girl
Years active1988–present
Spouse(s)David Case (m. 1997)
Musical career
Associated acts

Michelle Visage (born Michelle Lynn Shupack; September 20, 1968)[1] is an American radio DJ, singer, actress, producer, media personality, and television host. Originally gaining recognition as a member of the band Seduction, she earned five singles with the group that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1993, as lead vocalist in The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. she reached the top of the dance charts. In 2011, she joined the American reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race, and has served as a permanent judge since season three. She is also a permanent judge on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, RuPaul's Drag Race UK, and RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under.

Early life[edit]

Visage grew up in New Jersey, was adopted and was aware of this from an early age.[2][3] She attended South Plainfield High School in South Plainfield, New Jersey, graduating in 1986.[4] When Visage was 16 she won a Madonna look-alike competition.[5] She then moved to New York and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan for two years.[2] Growing up, Visage looked up to Madonna, Belinda Carlisle, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Cyndi Lauper and Dale Bozzio. Visage's mother died when she was 30. After finishing her studies she stayed in New York City to pursue a career as an actress.[6]

In New York she was active in the club scene and her mother, Arlene, even gave her a fake ID so she could make connections to help further her career.[7] Visage became prominent in the New York drag ball scene and learned voguing from various people including Willi Ninja.[7] She also became involved with Cesar Valentino and the pair appeared voguing together on the television show The Latin Connection in 1988, which they said was the first time voguing had appeared on national TV.[8]

Michelle adopted her surname, Visage, after gaining the nickname "cara" ("face" in Spanish) from the people she spent time with in the New York ball scene. However, because people pronounced it incorrectly she decided to change it to "visage" ("face" in French - a language she studied during middle and high school),[9] a name she has stuck with.[10] Visage also met her future friend and co-star RuPaul for the first time in the late 1980s, when she attended club nights and parties hosted by Susanne Bartsch.[11] In 1989, Visage performed at "The Love Ball", which was organized by Bartsch as a benefit for the Design Industries Foundation For AIDS. It is said that The Love Ball is where Madonna first witnessed voguing, the inspiration for her song "Vogue".[2][12][13] However, participating in New York night life was not Visage's sole occupation and during the day she worked as a receptionist at the shop Casablanca and Fundamental Things in the New York garment district.[7]


Music recording and music videos[edit]

Visage auditioned and won a place for Seduction, an R&B and dance vocal trio assembled by Robert Clivilles and David Cole that signed with A&M Records in 1990.[6][14] The group had several hits, the most famous being "Two to Make It Right". After the group's breakup, Visage collaborated with the freestyle dance act TKA as a guest vocalist on the song "Crash (Have Some Fun)".[15] Visage provided lead vocals and was the recording artist of another dance act assembled by Clivilles and Cole, The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. The song "It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day", which was a cover version of the Bill Withers song "Lovely Day", was included on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard.[14] "It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day" became a No. 1 dance single and peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1993.[16]

Visage has also been featured on several of RuPaul's music albums, and appears in the music videos for "New York City Beat" [17] and "From Your Heart", which originally premiered on RuPaul's Green Screen Christmas Special (2015), and were later uploaded to World of Wonder's YouTube channel.[18] Visage has also made guest appearances in the videos for RuPaul's songs "Glamazon",[19] "Responsitrannity",[20] "The Beginning"[21] and "Nothing for Christmas".[22]

In February 2021, it was confirmed that Visage had teamed up with Steps on a reworked version of "Heartbreak In This City".[23][24]

Radio and podcasts[edit]

Visage was the co-host of The Jamz Session on Hot 92 Jamz (KHHT) in Los Angeles between 2002 and 2005.[25] In 2005, Visage returned to New York City, where she served as co-host of The Morning Mix on WNEW-FM until December 2006. She also hosted on Sirius Satellite Radio's The Beat 66 from 2003 to 2006 [26] On March 12, 2007, she became a co-host of the morning show on SUNNY 104.3 in West Palm Beach, Florida.[27] On January 10, 2011, she joined 93.9 MIA in Miami as the host of the new MIA Morning Show.[2] She left Miami and MIA in December 2011, moving back to Los Angeles.[28]

Visage started co-hosting the weekly podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? on April 9, 2014.[29] The pair interview celebrities and discuss many topics ranging from their personal lives to RuPaul's Drag Race.[30] The podcast won a 2018 Webby Award.[31] Visage also presented Michelle Visage's Fabulous Divas on BBC Radio 2, with episodes broadcast in December 2019 and August 2020.[32] In October and November 2020, she covered for Rylan Clark-Neal on his BBC Radio 2 show Rylan on Saturday.


Visage has worked with RuPaul on a variety of television shows throughout her career. In 1996, she became the co-host of RuPaul's VH1 talk show The RuPaul Show.[33] She also co-hosted WKTU's morning show with RuPaul from 1996 to 2002. And when Ru began casting judges for season one of RuPaul's Drag Race he invited Visage to become a permanent member of the show. At the time she was on a five-year contract with a CBS radio station in West Palm Beach and after asking her boss if she could join the show he said no, which Visage put down to the show's links with the LGBT community.[11][34]

RuPaul's Drag Race[edit]

Two years later Visage was contacted by RuPaul again and invited to appear on season three of the show. After her boss once again said she was not able to appear, she was persuaded by her friend Leah Remini to contact CBS officials who allowed her to join the show as a judge.[35] So on January 24, 2011, Visage debuted as a permanent judge, along with Santino Rice and Billy B, on season three of RuPaul's Drag Race, replacing Merle Ginsberg. She has also appeared on all six seasons of the spin-off show, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

In 2019, she received her first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Competition Program, having been a producer of Drag Race since its eleventh season.[36] That same year she became a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, which airs on BBC Three.[37] In 2021, Visage served as a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under.[38]

Other appearances[edit]

On January 7, 2015, Visage became one of the contestants on the fifteenth series of the British reality series, Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5. On February 6, 2015, Visage left the house in fifth place.[39] Since leaving the house she has appeared on some episodes of Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side, a companion show that airs straight after Celebrity Big Brother.[40]

Visage has made several other TV appearances including hosting VH1's red carpet coverage of the 1998 Grammys and in 2002, Grease's 25th-anniversary re-release party.[41] On May 13, 2017, she and Ross Mathews were the commentators for Logo TV's coverage of the Live Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest.[42] More recently she has appeared as a judge on the first two seasons of Ireland's Got Talent, the first of which began airing on TV3 in February 2018.[43][44] And in 2020, Visage joined fellow Ireland's Got Talent judge Louis Walsh on the judging panel of teen recycled-fashion competition Junk Kouture.[45] She appeared on the televised Grand Final in February 2021, after the plans for the original live Grand Final were scuppered by COVID-19.

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

On August 5, 2019, it was announced that Visage would be taking part in the seventeenth series of Strictly Come Dancing in the UK on the BBC.[46] On September 7, it was confirmed that she was partnered with Giovanni Pernice.

  • Green number indicates Michelle & Giovanni were at the top of the leaderboard.
  • Red number indicates Michelle & Giovanni were at the bottom of the leaderboard.


Visage performed in her West End debut as "Miss Hedge" in Everybody's Talking About Jamie between October 18, 2018, and January 26, 2019.[47]

Personal life[edit]

In her early years, Visage suffered from an eating disorder which she says began when she was around 13 years old and continued into her adult life.[2][48]

She now lives in California with her husband, David Case, and her two daughters, Lillie and Lola.[49] On November 10, 2015, she published her first book, The Diva Rules.[50] Visage is vegan.[51]

On Episode 214 of What's the Tee?, her podcast with RuPaul, Visage says that as an adult, she has had sex with both men and women. "I've been with women; I've had sex with women... But I realized I never wanted to have a relationship [with them]."[52]

In April 2019, Visage revealed she had Hashimoto's disease, which led to getting her trademark breast implants removed.[53]



Album Year Group Notes
Nothing Matters Without Love 1989 Seduction


Song Year Artist Album
"Seduction Theme" 1989 Seduction Nothing Matters Without Love
"(You're My One and Only) True Love" 1990
"Two to Make It Right"
"It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day" 1992 The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. The Bodyguard soundtrack
"Heartbreak in This City" 2021 Steps What The Future Holds Pt 2

Guest appearances[edit]

Song Year Artist Album
"Crash (Have Some Fun)" 1991 TKA Single
"Hard Candy Christmas" 1997 RuPaul Ho, Ho, Ho
"With Bells On"
"Let the Music Play"[54] 2014 Born Naked
"Manila Radio (Interlude)"[55] Manila Luzon Eternal Queen
"New York City Beat"[56] 2015 RuPaul RuPaul Presents: CoverGurlz2
"L.A. Rhythm"[57] Realness
"L.A. Rhythm" (Remix)[57]
"From Your Heart" Slay Belles
"Category Is..." 2016 Butch Queen


Year Title Genre Role Notes
1989 Dance Party USA Television Herself
1990 Club MTV
1996–1998 The RuPaul Show
2002 Maybe It's Me Movie Tania
2011–present RuPaul's Drag Race Television Herself Judge (Season 3 - present)
Producer (Season 11 - present)
RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked
2012–present RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars Judge
2013 That Sex Show
2013–2015 The Most Popular Girls in School Web Series Mrs. Zales
2015 Celebrity Big Brother Television Herself Housemate, 5th Place[39] (Series 15)
2017 Eurovision Song Contest Commentator for the United States
2018–2019 Ireland's Got Talent Herself Judge
2018 The X Factor Simon Cowell’s Judges houses guest
2018–2019 Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Theatre Miss Hedge West End debut
2019 The Only Way Is Essex Television Herself Cameo
Guest Grumps Web series Episode: "Playing Viva Pinata with Michelle Visage + Lillie"[58]
Strictly Come Dancing Television Contestant, 7th place (Series 17)
2019–present RuPaul's Drag Race UK Judge (Series 1 - present)
2020 How’s Your Head, Hun? Host
Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star Guest judge (Series 2, Episode 4)
Canada's Drag Race Guest host/judge (Season 1, Episode 9)
2021 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Star guest announcer
RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under Judge
Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch Helen TV special (1 episode)

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations for Michelle Visage
Year Award Show Category Work Result Notes
2015 The Icon Awards Straight Ally Award Herself Awarded [59]
2018 Webby Awards Best Host (Podcast) RuPaul: What's The Tee? Won as co-host[60]
2019 Critic's Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Herself Nominated [61]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Competition Program RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer[62][63][64]
2020 Producers Guild of America Award Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Competition Program Won
BAFTA Award Best Reality and Constructed Factual RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated
British LGBT Awards Deutsche Bank – Celebrity Ally Herself Nominated [65][66]
Attitude Awards Ally Award Awarded [67]
2021 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Competition Program RuPaul’s Drag Race Won


  1. ^ Bruce (February 6, 2019). "Michelle Visage: Bio, Net Worth, Age, Height, Career, Husband David Case". Celeb Tattler. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Visage, Michelle (2015). The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top. Chronicle Books. pp. 22, 41, 89–91, 153, 191–193. ISBN 978-1452146850.
  3. ^ "5 Things We Learned from Michelle Visage's 'Vulture' Interview". Billboard. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "Michelle Shupack, Class of 1986 – South Plainfield High School – Classmates". www.classmates.com. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  5. ^ "Michelle Visage Is Tough Because She Loves You". www.vulture.com. 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Bio". Michelle Visage (official site). Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c "'A Bitch I Have to Know': A Q&A With RuPaul's BFF Michelle Visage". Spin. May 6, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  8. ^ "Cesar Valentino". Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. October 23, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  9. ^ "RuPaul Drives... Michelle Visage".
  10. ^ "Michelle Visage Talks 'Diva Rules,' 'Drag Race,' and Friendship with RuPaul: 'I'm a Very Lucky Gal'". Yahoo. November 10, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Michelle Visage on Meeting Mama Ru – "B*tch, I've Been Watching You for Years" – Her Fave "Drag Race" Lip Syncs & More". The WOW Report. March 9, 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  12. ^ Hochswender, Woody (May 12, 1989). "Vogueing Against AIDS: A Quest for 'Overness'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  13. ^ Nast, Condé. "The Historic, Mainstream Appropriation of Ballroom Culture". them. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Michelle Visage young: Strictly Come Dancing star looks completely different in old photos, Daily Express (August 5, 2019)
  15. ^ "Discogs TKA". Discogs.
  16. ^ "Billboard Charts 1993".
  17. ^ "RuPaul and Michelle Visage New York City Beat Official Music Video". January 26, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "RuPaul – "From Your Heart (feat. Michelle Visage)"". January 1, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "RuPaul Glamazon music video (feat. Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels and Phi Phi O'Hara)". October 7, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "RuPaul Responsitrannity music video". October 25, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "RuPaul's "The Beginning" music video (feat. Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, Roxxxy Andrews)". June 5, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ "RuPaul – "Nothing for Christmas" Official Music Video". December 10, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "Michelle Visage joins pop legends Steps as 'unofficial sixth member' for boptastic musical comeback". Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  24. ^ "One week to go! FIRST PLAY of #HeartbreakInThisCity with @MichelleVisage on @bbcradio2 February 25th at 7:50am then available to download/stream that morning". Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  25. ^ Williams, Bre; Articles, More; December 15, 2018 (December 15, 2018). "Who is Michelle Visage From 'RuPaul's Drag Race' and What Is Her Net Worth?". The Cheat Sheet. Retrieved April 8, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Radio Resume Michelle Visage".
  27. ^ "Radio Industry News, New Music, Music Promotion, Radio Station Song Charts - AllAccess.com". All Access.
  28. ^ Nunn, Jerry. "Michelle Visage: Chicago is definitely represented with Phi Phi, The Princess, and DiDa". ChicagoPride.com. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  29. ^ "Michelle Visage – Interview". EQView.com. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  30. ^ "Episodes". RuPaul: What's The Tee?. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  31. ^ "RuPaul's "What's the Tee" podcast wins 2018 Webby Award". Metro Weekly. April 27, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  32. ^ "Michelle Visage's Fabulous Divas". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  33. ^ "Who is Michelle Visage? Is she gay? RuPaul's Drag Race judge and longtime LGBT+ ally – PinkNews · PinkNews". www.pinknews.co.uk. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  34. ^ "An Interview with the one and only Michelle Visage". Huffington Post.
  35. ^ "Leah Remini's Friend, TV's Michelle Visage, Says Scientologists Are "Scattering Like Roaches" | The Underground Bunker". tonyortega.org. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  36. ^ "Michelle Visage". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  37. ^ Earp, Catherine (February 5, 2019). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK confirms Michelle Visage as judge". Digital Spy.
  38. ^ "'I cannot wait': RuPaul and Michelle Visage to judge Drag Race Down Under – in New Zealand". The Guardian. January 18, 2021. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  39. ^ a b "Michelle Visage defeated by Katie Price in Celebrity Big Brother Final". Pink News.
  40. ^ "CBB: Michelle Visage and Bianca Del Rio throw shade". Gay Times. September 18, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  41. ^ The Daily Telegraph Staff (January 9, 2015). "Who is Michelle Visage? Meet the Celebrity Big Brother contestant". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  42. ^ "Eurovision returns to the United States". eurovision.tv.
  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 3, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  44. ^ "Michelle Visage asks Ireland's Got Talent viewers to vote for talent not just acts from their area for season 2". Independent.ie. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  45. ^ O'Loughlin, Ciara (October 11, 2020). "Drag Race's Michelle Visage to judge Irish Junk Couture competition alongside Louis Walsh". Independent.ie. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  46. ^ Debnath, Neela (August 9, 2019). "Michelle Visage: Who is Strictly Come Dancing 2019 star Michelle Visage?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  47. ^ "Everybody's Talking About... Michelle Visage". Everybody's Talking About Jamie. September 19, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  48. ^ "WISE WORDS: Michelle Visage On The Importance Of Loving Ourselves". HuffPost UK. November 6, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  49. ^ "Introducing Celebrity Big Brother Star Michelle Visage". Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  50. ^ Visage, Michelle. "The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top by Michelle Visage — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Goodreads.com. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  51. ^ "A guide to Strictly Come Dancing's Michelle Visage's tattoos: from a diamond on her hip to a top hat on her thigh". HELLO!. November 16, 2019.
  52. ^ "Episode 214 - The L Word" – via soundcloud.com.
  53. ^ Quinn, Dave (April 12, 2019). "Michelle Visage Says She Had Her Breast Implants Removed Due to Her Hashimoto's Disease". People. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  54. ^ "iTunes – Music – Born Naked by RuPaul". iTunes.
  55. ^ "iTunes – Music – Eternal Queen by Manila Luzon". iTunes.
  56. ^ "iTunes – Music – RuPaul Presents CoverGurlz2 by RuPaul". iTunes.
  57. ^ a b "iTunes – Music – Realness by RuPaul". iTunes.
  58. ^ Game Grumps (July 24, 2019). "Playing Viva Pinata with Michelle Visage + Lillie". YouTube. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  59. ^ ""Condragulations! Michelle Visage Receives Special Award at Glasgow's Icon Awards!"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  60. ^ ""RuPaul's "What's the Tee" podcast wins 2018 Webby Award"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  61. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly. ""Critics' Choice Real TV Awards: 'Queer Eye' Leads Winners for Inaugural Show"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  62. ^ ""Michelle Visage - Awards - IMDB"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  63. ^ ""72nd Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  64. ^ ""Television | Reality & Constructed Factual in 2020"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  65. ^ ""Deutsche Bank – Top 10 Celebrity Allies 2020"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  66. ^ ""British LGBT Awards 2020 nominations: full list of nominees including Sam Smith, Michelle Visage and Billy Porter"". Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  67. ^ "Michelle Visage: 'Being an ally is as important as being a mother to me, it really is'". Attitude.co.uk. December 1, 2020.


  1. ^ In week 5 guest judge Alfonso Ribeiro replaced Tonioli

External links[edit]