Since rocketing to stardom as the lip sync assassin of her season, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 finalist Kameron Michaels has just not stopped. From worldwide touring to now being a part of RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! in Las Vegas, this smoldering performer’s schedule went from packed to non-existent as the pandemic rocked the entertainment world. As we ever so slowly find a way to enjoy performances again, Michaels sat down to chat with me about getting back in front of fans to perform at Voss Events Drive ’N Drag, getting through the craziness known as quarantine, & what has changed the most for her since Season 10
Michael Cook: For performers and for our country it’s been a revolutionary time. How have you been managing?
Kameron Michaels: Well, I haven’t, there have been several meltdowns (laughs). Quarantine has been quite a challenge for me. We have Drive ‘N Drag since I am not on the Las Vegas strip right now, so things are happening now, things are good now.
MC: Drive ‘N Drag has been a fantastic innovation and it’s become one of the biggest tours of the summer. Did you ever see a world where you would be performing for packed parking lots of masked fans?
KM: No, never did I think performing at a drive-in movie theatre in drag would be a thing, but it is welcomed, honestly. Just to be on stage again, it is amazing. I mean, I will deal with the heat for a couple hours, I think it’s really cool. I think its nostalgic, for the older generation especially, and when everyone comes out they get to see a drive-in show.
MC: You have been one of the lucky queens to be able to get back on stage in front of a crowd, and for so many performers, that is truly what they are missing. What has it been like to get back out there in front of fans and have those reactions once again.
KM: You know, I think that it is what we all need truthfully. Sadly, the thing that is missing from all of our lives is entertainment. Broadway is closed, clubs are closed, any type of event where you can go see live entertainment is not happening right now. It is sad, I think a lot of people really love seeing live shows like that. I think it is such a blessing that I can work again because I know that so many of my sisters are struggling. I’m a Leo; I like attention; the fact that I haven’t gotten any during quarantine is a little upsetting (laughs)! Now that I am able to be out there doing it again, I am just so blessed to be able to have the opportunity to do it.
MC: You are one of the cast members for RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! at The Flamingo in Las Vegas. What has it been like coordinating your own performance style into a Vegas show with so many other personalities and making it into a cohesive production?
KM: I think Derrick (Barry) is the only one that I know of who has not been on a Werq The World tour. I have been on an ensemble cast of girls for the past two years. Since the beginning of touring, I have been on the Werq The World tours and these other shows, and I am used to working with all of these girls on the stage at the same time. It wasn’t that new to me to do that, I am used to it. I am used to being on the stage with multiple girls at the same time, and I think Werq The World really conditioned me for it.
MC: The Las Vegas show is moving to a television format with RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue. What has it been like dropping into a reality show format? The trailer shows different interactions between all of you, and even a possible relationship between you and fellow performer Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. What is it like suddenly having the show behind the show become…the show?
KM: Well, we are used to seeing the drama of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but that is in a closed set format. What they can expect now is the drama of Drag Race, but Real Housewives style. There is no production watching us, we are on our own accord to pick fights, make out, fall in love, and really do whatever we are going to do in our real lives rather than in a closed set in hotel rooms like we are on Drag Race. I think it is going to be exciting for the fans to see us with a little more freedom and seeing that part of our lives.
MC: You’ve released some incredible music and gotten to tour the world. As RuPaul’s Drag Race films Season 13, what is it like looking back on Season Ten now and looking forward to being a part of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue?
KM: I think what I am most excited about is for people to see me be a little more comfortable. We all know, I was barely on the show as far as I am concerned for Season 10. Just being more comfortable with who I am and with myself, touring around the world the past few years has taught me a lot about myself. I think the fans are going to be pleasantly surprised to see me be more authentically me. Comfortable, confident and finally knowing who I am and what my purpose is; I don’t think they got to see that on Season 10.
MC: Cameras definitely can be something that can make people instantly clam up and not want to reveal themselves; was that hard to initially deal with?
KM: Yes. I mean, to go from never doing that to having eight cameras in your face, celebrity judges, thirteen other big personality drag queens in one room, it is very intimidating. Now that I have adjusted to that in two years time, I think it is exciting that I am able to show people the normal me, not the terrified me.
MC: So if you had to guess a number of people who reached out to ask you why you were not a lip sync assassin on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5, how many people reached out?
KM: Oh, approximately 232, 543 (laughs)! You know me, I didn’t say anything and stayed quiet about the whole thing. People were asking “where’s Kameron, why isn’t she here” so it was a little social media boost for me. I waited until the very end to say if I was on there or not (laughs)!
MC: Now that the RuPaul’s Drag Race:Vegas Revue will be shown for a different kind of audience, you are going to be getting attention of a different kind. How ready are you to get out there and perform again for fans in a theater like in RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE again?
KM: I’m ready. I miss doing a nine to five job. I mean, it’s not truly nine to five, it’s actually like four to midnight, but having somewhere to go over day, having a schedule is really good for me. I get to wake up, make breakfast, go to the gym, go to work and repeat. I miss having that normalcy because for the past couple years of my life, it has been a plane there, a different country, a bus here; I miss having that steady every day job. I am ready and I need us to figure out the pandemic because we need to get back to normal life.
MC: Staying creative during quarantine has been a challenge; what have you done during the pandemic to stay inspired and creatively fueled?
KM: You know, to be honest I haven’t. I was actually tackling social media like a bull within the first month and a half, two months. I was doing YouTube content and downloaded TikTok. I was stretched thin though so many social media apps, it started to drive me crazy and I just had to shut everything down. I was doing some really creative stuff for a while, then decided that this was a pandemic; I don’t have to live up to anybody elses’ standards. I can deal with this however I need to to get by. The middle of quarantine was very quiet for me, and I had to learn how to be okay with that. This is not something normal that we deal with, as humans we do not shut our lives down for five months. We all deal with it differently and that is okay.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue” premieres Friday on VH1 (check local listings)
Follow Kameron Michaels on Instagram