Roy Ward meets Mother Dust herself, Chad Michaels, champion of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, talking Cher, Princess Leia and drag race.
In case you didn’t get the memo, RuPaul’s Drag Race is probably the greatest reality TV show ever made. After catching up with Season 5’s Miss Congeniality winner Ivy Winters last week, I set my sights even higher. This week I get chatting with Mother Dust herself, Chad Michaels – Season 4 finalist and champion of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, talking Princess Leia, Cher (obviously), winning the All Stars crown and getting her thoughts on Season 5.
Vada: Hello Chad Michaels! So when did you start doing drag and what prompted you to do it?
Chad Michaels: Hi Roy! Well it’s been a 20+ year journey that really started when I was a young boy! My mom and grandma of course had plenty of heels and frocks to indulge my “theatrical” imagination when I was growing up. TV, Film, and strong female role models like Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Princess Leia, and Carol Burnett have always fascinated me. So as you can see, an inclination towards drag has always been a part of me. When I started performing in 1992 it felt very natural to grow into my own set of heels! Size 12, preferably. My love of performing started when I studied Graham Dance Technique as a teen and joined a dance company. Drag has been a way to combine many of my talents into one art form. Drag is my medium. BTW, when I met Carrie Fisher, I told her when I was little I always wanted to be Princess Leia and she told me she always wanted to be Cher, so there you go!
Speaking of Cher, you’re a famous Cher impersonator and you slayyyyyed at the Snatch Game during your season. What is it about her that inspires you so much?
Cheers – thanks for that! The Snatch Game was a great victory for me as it was the challenge I was most looking forward to. It put my career as a pro Cher impersonator to the test. Snatch Game also challenged me to banter and do Cher’s voice live which is now a standard part of my appearances. Cher is universally loved and that has made impersonating her very easy and quite enjoyable. I’ve never had a bad gig when Cher is in my bags. I think people love her because she says and does what many others wouldn’t dare. She is outspoken, independent, a humanitarian, talented, sexy, and gorgeous. She has had a presence in every decade since the 60s and threatens to destroy us all with her upcoming release of “Woman’s World”! Cher is The Phoenix and that inspires me. Forever young and triumphant.
You’re a well-established drag artist in your own right – what made you want to apply for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
RPDR was like a mountain and I wanted to climb it, and I did, twice! It was a great opportunity for me, as well as any drag entertainer, to showcase my skills and tell the world my story. I feel very lucky to have competed and done so well among some of the fiercest queens in the business!
How has being on Drag Race affected your career and your life?
The notoriety and celebrity have been the most obvious rewards of competing on RPDR. I have had a very busy schedule these last two years and I am very grateful. Touring has been an amazing experience and I continue to travel extensively. But for me, being a role model and one that others look to for cues is a great honor and one I don’t take lightly. There is a degree of responsibility that comes with being one of Ru’s Girls and that alone has given me a lot of direction. It’s important to represent not only myself professionally, but also RPDR. My life has definitely been upgraded since winning RPDR All Stars!
As you mentioned, you may have missed out to Miss Needles in Season Four but you finally got your crown in All Stars – was it a very different experience second time around?
Yes, the second time around was very different. I have always felt good about Sharon [Needles]’s win. I feel she deserved it and the fans needed an underdog at that time. Sharon has done so much with his win and I am very proud of him. RPDR4 was a great warm up for All Stars. I literally had 2 days to prepare to compete with the fiercest Queens RuPaul had to offer. It was tough because these girls are fierce and we’re all very hungry to win the title. I was however fresh off my appearance on S4 so I think I was in more of a game mode than the other girls. I had an edge and was prepared to show out hard!
You paired up with Shannel as Team Shad for All Stars, and you two have known each other for years. If she wasn’t there, and you could have picked any other queen in Drag Race herstory to partner up with – who would it have been and why?
Competing with Shannel was really the best thing that could have happened to us both. We know each other well and worked together methodically. There could not have been a better pairing, even if we didn’t know it was coming. None of us really wanted to do teams but I think Shannel and I had the best circumstances for success. If I had to pick another partner from the past seasons of RPDR it would have been Delta Work or Morgan McMichaels. Delta is a “Bestie” and Morgan is my Drag Daughter. I think I could have been successful and had a blast with either one of them! I’m hoping to see them on a future edition of RPDR All Stars! Perhaps one of them could join me in this lonely All Stars Hall of Fame…
What was your verdict on Season 5 – the queens, the drama and the result?
Wow! Season 5 was a roller coaster. I had a hard time watching the first episodes as there was so much drama and fighting going on. The Coco vs Alyssa battle wore me out and I’m glad they finally made peace. It is very difficult when one is competing in a sanitized bubble. Emotions run high and the stress is immense. I have to hand it to the girls for taking us on a rocky journey that did finally end with some closure and some lessons learned. I am so happy that Jinkx Monsoon took the crown this year. I feel that above all, she played by heart and that is important to me as a viewer. Life is about growing through compassion and that is what Jinkx did right before our very eyes this year, never faltering. I’m proud to know her and stand with her in the Royal Court of RPDR!
What’s next for Chad Michaels?
I take life as it comes. I have been in the business for a long time and have learned that one can never really predict what is around the next corner. As for controlling my own destiny, right now I am touring and working with my show The Dreamgirls Revue in So. Cal. It has been amazing to work all over the country and out of the states these past two years. Meeting my fans and entertaining people are my biggest joys in life. I am at a point where I’ve been requiring a little privacy and down time so it has been a priority to catch some rest when and if I am at home! My biggest goal is to maintain a constant state of happiness and peace. I’ve noticed that some girls never stop chasing fame, the dragon. It can be exhausting and illusive. I have chosen to let life unfold and let the blessings come to me. And they have. And I am truly thankful. My future story is yet untold. Stay tuned Babes! I hope to see you all in the UK soon!!!
To see more of Chad Michaels, visit her official website – www.chadmichaels.com