Alexis Michelle returned to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 with plenty to prove, which she did and then some. From gobsmacking runway looks to point perfect turns in everything from the Snatch Game to Ru-sical challenges, Michelle displayed growth, knowledge and a vision that she brought to life with every runway look. While she came up short of the crown this time around, Michelle has plenty to still show the fans (starting with of course, The Fame Games)! I sat down with this New York City dame to discuss her latest Drag Race run, the elimination that fans are still buzzing about, and why supporting the trans community is more crucial than ever right now.
Michael Cook: What was it like to head back into the RuPaul’s Drag Race werkroom. I know how much you wanted to go back and how much you truly knew you had left to show…
Alexis Michelle: I did feel that there was unfinished business, I did feel that there was more to show; particularly when it came to aesthetics and drag and walking the runway. I knew going back the risk that I was taking as far as how I would conduct myself in a competiton. I knew the risks that I was taking and how I would handle that pressure, in addition to hoping that I would get a chance to show my talent again.
I showed my talents the first time in the Ru-sical and in the ‘Snatch Gam’e, and I got to do them again. I slayed the Ru-sical and I slayed the ‘Snatch Game’; even if you don’t “win” you can still win. What I set out to do was storm the runway and I feel very proud. I got to do that and I think everyone can see that.
MC: It is pretty indisputable that your runway looks are some of the best we have seen on the runway in quite some time, both optically and from your fashion perspective, as well as your attention to detail.
AM: I am a very detail oriented person and many of these concepts and ideas were born out of my mind. Many of them were born out of my designer’s minds. The jockstrap design that everyone has been talking about, props to my designer Florence D’Lee my longtime designer and friend, which was Florence’s inspiration and many of them were Florence’s inspiration. It just so happened that in our mutual knowing and understanding of each other and what sexual beings we are, it just aligned that a jockstrap is one of the most alluring pieces of attire or gear that you can wear, I love them. The idea of making a gown that looked like a jock strap was actually Florence’s, the hankie was Florence’s, and the piss soaked bottom was Florence’s idea.
MC: I think it’s amazing that one of the legacies for both you and Florence D’Lee from this season of All Stars is a gown with a piss soaked bottom.
AM: Listen, the attention that went into the detail of creating the right hombre of color from the bottom up to make sure that it would really pop on camera, I am forever grateful for all of my designers. There were so many artists that worked on my package this season and I am so grateful. Everyone really showed up in the same way that I showed up. They paid every element that exact kind of attention.
MC: As a fellow Golden Girls aficionado, your Bea Arthur impression was divine, and you paid attention to small details down to quotes that only true Golden Girls fans would know.
AM: Thank you, I appreciate that. I was so shocked that last week when I quoted Blanche Deveraux and Ru missed it.
MC: Have you always been a lifelong Golden Girls fan?
AM: Lifelong. In addition to watching the show in syndication and on DVD over and over, I used to watch it on Saturday night with my Grandma.
MC: If there is an “era” for All Stars 8, it’s the “Alliance Era”. It truly seemed that almost every contestant had an alliance with someone else. For the record, how many alliances did you actually have and how many did you actually keep?
AM: Well that’s the thing, they were not all…and I can only speak for myself….based on my observation, some of the ones that I saw play out on camera as the show aired, we were not even aware of when we were there. It seems that different ones had different weight for different people. As far as mine went, I only proposed an alliance with three people, and there were different levels of commitment from the three different people that I proposed them to. I don’t hold it against anybody, we didn’t sign any contracts. When it comes down to it though, the three people that I proposed an alliance to I never voted for. It’s Heidi (N Closet), Jimbo and Kandy (Muse); and I never voted for them.
MC: Not since Blu Hydrangea eliminated Pangina Heals on UK vs The World has an elimination been as polarizing as you eliminating LaLa Ri from All Stars 8. Why do you think that moment has been especially controversial and so buzzed about?
AM: From the beginning, what we got to see as viewers, I had a little crush on LaLa. I think LaLa is cute, I think LaLa is talented, I had a little crush. So right away, the starting story was about some sense of pull and draw, perhaps even loyalty. When it came down to this point where LaLa could have save Kahanna (Montrese) and she saved me and I said to LaLa’s face “I’ll never forget this, I am always going to remember this” and those are very genuine statements. They’re also not saying that I’m going to save you no matter what.
It’s not even about sacrificing so much, because if anything, I did sacrifice myself in that I put myself on the firing line. People did not like this and I did not like doing it; I’ve received a huge backlash for this, and I am not trying to be a martyr for it, it’s my problem. It’s a little crazy, how people take something and run with it. I said it was a difficult decision, I need to weigh it out…and there is so much that goes into filming, it’s an hour long program. There is so much more conversation that is had.
As far as this particular and highly controversial elimination, I do wish that could do it different. i am not saying that because I got backlash, I felt that way immediately after I picked up after the lipstick, I felt that way after one night’s sleep, I wish I could have done it differently. And that’s not directed at Kandy. I just wish I didn’t have to do it at all; it would have been a feeling of betrayal in either direction. That is going to be hard for people to understand because Kandy and I seemed to have conflict ahead of this choice. I also probably had the most history with Kandy before the season coming from the same city, so it would have felt like a betrayal no matter what. As you get further along in the competition, that becomes harder and harder
MC: One thing you have been doing is too really crank out the music as the season has progressed., and it has a definitely dance style to it. Its a refreshing departure for our favorite Broadway dame!
AM: Thank you so much! I decided to put out some house tracks with a little disco flair. I’ve released “God Is A Queen” and then “Manpig”, to go along with my jock strap and my latest is called “Too Much”, which I think is just perfect for this controversial period, my controversial era (laughs)! Ive been owning my “too much-ness” because that is what I need to do! and working with 808 Annie and Mason Rosen Music on this track was a real dream collaboration. And there is some other music coming soon…
MC: How do people with a global voice and a large following like yourself show people how we can push back on the noise against our community right now?
AM: Bless you for asking this; and kudos to you; in asking this question you give us a chance to raise our voices, thank you. It is something that I speak to whenever I get the chance. I was on the mic at Legacy Nightclub in Boston recently and I spoke very passionately about this.
Drag is not a crime. Drag has aways been about celebration and uplifting people. The noise being thrown at drag, I won’t even say it’s being misunderstood because I don’t think it’s being misunderstood. The people saying these things about drag know that it’s fun, know that it’s celebratory, know that it’s joyful. I believe that its purely diversion, like RuPaul has said.
The most important thing that I say and that I say every day is that this is diversion. The real thing that these bigots are trying to do is to threaten the lives, liberty, and safety of our trans bothers and sisters; that is where our focus needs to be. Drag art, that is all going to go on, don’t worry this is just noise. Focus on our trans brothers and sisters, they are dying out there-literally-and they need our support and they need us to stand up right beside them hold them up and support them. Stop killing trans women.
Follow Alexis Michelle on Instagram