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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)
Years active 1988–present
  • RuPaul's Drag Race
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars
  • Celebrity Big Brother
  • Ireland's Got Talent
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • RuPaul's Drag Race UK
  • RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under
David Case
(m. 1997)
Children 2
Musical career
Associated acts
  • Seduction
  • The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.
  • RuPaul
  • Steps

Michelle Visage (born Michelle Lynn Shupack; September 20, 1968) is an American singer, television host, media personality, actress, radio DJ, producer and former showgirl. 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. Visage has won 3 Primetime Emmy Awards as a producer of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Early life

Visage grew up in New Jersey. She was adopted and was aware of this from an early age. She attended South Plainfield High School in South Plainfield, New Jersey, graduating in 1986. When Visage was 16, she won a Madonna lookalike competition. She then moved to New York and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan for two years. 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.

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

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), a name she has stuck with. 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. 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". 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.


Music recording and music videos

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. 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)". 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. "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.

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

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

Radio and podcasts

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. 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 On March 12, 2007, she became a co-host of the morning show on SUNNY 104.3 in West Palm Beach, Florida. On January 10, 2011, she joined 93.9 MIA in Miami as the host of the new MIA Morning Show. She left Miami and MIA in December 2011, moving back to Los Angeles.

Visage started co-hosting the weekly podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? on April 9, 2014. The pair interview celebrities and discuss many topics ranging from their personal lives to RuPaul's Drag Race. The podcast won a 2018 Webby Award. Visage also presented Michelle Visage's Fabulous Divas on BBC Radio 2, with episodes broadcast in December 2019 and August 2020. 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.


Rupaul Dragcon 2018-223 (28203478058)
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. 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.

RuPaul's Drag Race

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. 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. That same year she became a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, which airs on BBC Three. In 2021, Visage served as a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under.

Other appearances

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. 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.

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. 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. 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. And in 2020, Visage joined fellow Ireland's Got Talent judge Louis Walsh on the judging panel of teen recycled-fashion competition Junk Kouture. 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

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. 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.

Personal life

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



Album Year Group Notes
Nothing Matters Without Love 1989 Seduction


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 S... Show
2013–2015 The Most Popular Girls in School Web Series Mrs. Zales
2015 Celebrity Big Brother Television Herself Housemate, 5th Place (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"
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 Judge
The B... Who Stole Christmas Movie Narrator
2022 RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs the World Television Herself Judge

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations for Michelle Visage
Year Award Show Category Work Result Notes
2015 The Icon Awards Straight Ally Award Herself Awarded
2017 WOWIE Awards Best Twitter Won
Best Podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? Won
2018 Webby Awards Best Host (Podcast) Won as co-host
2019 WOWIE Awards Best Podcast Won
Best TV Moment Strictly Come Dancing Nominated
Critic's Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Herself Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program Won as producer
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
Queerty Awards Drag Royalty Nominated
Podcast RuPaul: What's the Tee? Runner-up
Attitude Awards Ally Award Herself Awarded
Critics' Choice Real TV Awards Female Star of the Year Nominated
National Television Awards Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated
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
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television RuPaul's Drag Race Won as producer
National Television Awards Talent Show RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated
2022 WOWIE Awards Best TV Moment The Wendy Williams Show (with Leah Remini) Nominated
Best Documentary Explant Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Reality and Constructed Factual RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Competition Program RuPaul's Drag Race Nominated as producer
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series RuPaul's Drag Race Whatcha Packin' with Michelle Visage Nominated as producer
National Television Awards Talent Show RuPaul's Drag Race UK Nominated as producer
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