Michelle Visage

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

(1968-09-20) September 20, 1968 (age 54)
  • Singer
  • radio DJ
  • media personality
  • television hostess
  • television producer
  • actress
  • dancer
  • author
Years active1988–present
David Case
(m. 1997)
Musical career

Michelle Lynn Case (nee Shupack), better known as Michelle Visage (born September 20, 1968),[1] is an American singer, television host, actress, radio DJ and producer. She first gained recognition as a member of the musical group Seduction which charted five singles on the Billboard Hot 100. She later served as lead vocalist of another group The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. which reached the top of the dance charts with the single "It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day" in 1993.

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. Visage has won 3 Primetime Emmy Awards as a producer of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Early life[edit]

Visage grew up in New Jersey. She was adopted and was aware of this from an early age.[2][3] Visage, adopted by two Jewish parents, was raised Jewish.[4] Her biological father was also Jewish, while her biological mother was Irish and Italian Catholic.[5] Despite living in a lower middle class town without many Jewish people, her parents worked to make sure she could attend Hebrew school and have a Bat Mitzvah.[6] She attended South Plainfield High School in South Plainfield, New Jersey, graduating in 1986.[7] When Visage was 16, she won a Madonna lookalike competition.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] Visage became prominent in the New York drag ball scene and learned voguing from various people including Willi Ninja.[10] 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.[11]

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),[12] a name she has stuck with.[13] 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.[14] 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][15][16] During the day she worked as a receptionist at the shop Casablanca and Fundamental Things in the New York garment district.[10]


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.[9][17] 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)".[18] 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.[17] "It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day" became a number-one dance single and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1993.[19]

Visage has also been featured on several of RuPaul's music albums, and appears in the music videos for "New York City Beat" [20] 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.[21] Visage has also made guest appearances in the videos for RuPaul's songs "Glamazon",[22] "Responsitrannity",[23] "The Beginning"[24] and "Nothing for Christmas".[25]

In February 2021, it was confirmed that Visage had teamed up with Steps on a reworked version of "Heartbreak In This City".[26][27]

Radio and podcasts[edit]

Visage was the co-host of the morning show on WKTU in NYC from 1996 to 2002 where she and co-host RuPaul started working together professionally. When RuPaul left radio, Visage continued on to many morning shows including: Hot 92 Jamz (KHHT) in Los Angeles between 2002 and 2005.[28] 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 [29] On March 12, 2007, she became a co-host of the morning show on SUNNY 104.3 in West Palm Beach, Florida.[30] 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.[31]

Visage started co-hosting the weekly podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? on April 9, 2014.[32] The pair interview celebrities and discuss many topics ranging from their personal lives to RuPaul's Drag Race.[33] The podcast won a 2018 Webby Award.[34] Visage also presented Michelle Visage's Fabulous Divas on BBC Radio 2, with episodes broadcast in December 2019 and August 2020.[35] In October and November 2020, she covered for Rylan Clark-Neal on his BBC Radio 2 show and in February 2022 she covered for Dermot O'Leary on his Saturday weekend breakfast show. As of 15 July 2022, she has begun presenting her own show each Friday night from 7 until 9pm on BBC Radio 2.[36]


Visage at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018

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.[37] 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.[14][38]

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.[39] 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 seven 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.[40] That same year she became a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, which airs on BBC Three.[41] In 2021, Visage served as a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44]

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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[47][48] And in 2020, Visage joined fellow Ireland's Got Talent judge Louis Walsh on the judging panel of teen recycled-fashion competition Junk Kouture.[49] 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 BBC.[50] 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.[51]

Personal life[edit]

In her early years, Visage suffered from anorexia, an eating disorder which she says began when she was around 13 years old and continued into her adult life.[2][52] Visage is vegan.[53]

She lives in California with her husband, David Case, and her two daughters.[54] On November 10, 2015, she published her first book, The Diva Rules.[55]

On Episode 214 of What's the Tee?, her podcast with RuPaul, Visage said 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]."[56]

In April 2019, Visage revealed she had Hashimoto's disease, which led to getting her trademark breast implants removed.[57]



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"
"Could This Be Love"
"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"[58] 2014 Born Naked
"Manila Radio (Interlude)"[59] Manila Luzon Eternal Queen
"New York City Beat"[60] 2015 RuPaul RuPaul Presents: CoverGurlz2
"L.A. Rhythm"[61] Realness
"L.A. Rhythm" (Remix)[61]
"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 Co-host
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 15 Television Herself Housemate, 5th Place[43] (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"[62]
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)
Celebrity Gogglebox for Su2c Herself Stand Up to Cancer special (Series 18, episode 5); alongside Graham Norton
The Wendy Williams Show Special Guest (3 episodes)
Queen of the Universe[63] Judge
The Bitch Who Stole Christmas[64] Movie Narrator
2022 RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs the World Television Herself[65] Judge

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 [66]
2017 WOWIE Awards Best Twitter Won [67]
Best Podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? Won [68]
2018 Webby Awards Best Host (Podcast) Won as co-host[69]
2019 WOWIE Awards Best Podcast Won [70]
Best TV Moment Strictly Come Dancing Nominated [71]
Critic's Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Herself Nominated [72]
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer[73]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program Won as producer[74][75][76]
2020 Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Reality and Constructed Factual RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated
British LGBT Awards Deutsche Bank – Celebrity Ally Herself Nominated [77][78]
Queerty Awards Drag Royalty Nominated [79]
Podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? Runner-up [80]
Attitude Awards Ally Award Herself Awarded [81]
Critics' Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Nominated [82]
National Television Awards Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated [83]
2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer
Critics' Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Herself Nominated [84]
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer[85]
National Television Awards Talent Show RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated [86]
2022 WOWIE Awards Best TV Moment The Wendy Williams Show (with Leah Remini) Nominated [87][88]
Best Documentary Explant Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Reality and Constructed Factual RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated [89][90]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program RuPaul's Drag Race Nominated as producer[91]
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series RuPaul's Drag Race Whatcha Packin' with Michelle Visage Nominated as producer[92]
National Television Awards Talent Show RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated as producer[93]


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

See also[edit]


  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. March 9, 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "Michelle Visage on her Jewish roots". YouTube. Jewish Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  5. ^ "Michelle Visage on her Jewish roots". YouTube. Jewish Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  6. ^ "Michelle Visage on her Jewish roots". YouTube. Jewish Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  7. ^ "Michelle Shupack, Class of 1986 – South Plainfield High School – Classmates". www.classmates.com. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  8. ^ "Michelle Visage Is Tough Because She Loves You". www.vulture.com. 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Bio". Michelle Visage (official site). Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Cesar Valentino". Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. October 23, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "RuPaul Drives... Michelle Visage". YouTube.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  14. ^ 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.
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  46. ^ "Eurovision returns to the United States". eurovision.tv. April 27, 2017.
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  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ Debnath, Neela (August 9, 2019). "Michelle Visage: Who is Strictly Come Dancing 2019 star Michelle Visage?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  51. ^ "Everybody's Talking About... Michelle Visage". Everybody's Talking About Jamie. September 19, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  52. ^ "WISE WORDS: Michelle Visage On The Importance Of Loving Ourselves". HuffPost UK. November 6, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  53. ^ "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.
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External links[edit]