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Werq The World Tour brings a touch of 'RuPauls Drag Race' to Australia

Following on from a sold-out spin around the globe and a whistle-stop Aussie tour last year, RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World Tour is making its way back to Melbourne with a new show. 

Expertly hosted by Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, the show features a mix of fan faves from the show’s last season [including Asia O’Hara, Eureka O’Hara and Kameron Michaels] as well as Drag Race veterans [Kim Chi, Detox, Violet Chachki and Naomi Smalls] and is shaping up as the world’s largest and most elaborate drag production. 

As the only official tour of RuPaul’s runaway success TV show Drag Race, the stage production promises a shift in emphasis from previous extravaganzas. “We wanted to do something new, something bigger this year, so instead of werqing the world we’re going to werq the worlds,” says Michaels, cherished star of Drag Race’s latest season. “We’re giving the show a true flow and a story this time so everyone will be working together creatively to give the best show we can. Plus, every girl will be aligned with a planet, but that’s all I can say for now.”

While the beloved and super addictive TV show gives the finger to male-dominated culture, its participants have also challenged boundaries within drag. Michaels, in particular, shook up the drag norm by being unimaginably buff, with some unforeseen consequences. Amongst other things, muscular women have embraced her as a role model. 

“Where I come from, being a drag queen meant that you presented as traditionally female as possible,” Michaels explains. “My physique made that difficult as females are stereotyped to be dainty and smaller in stature. I broke the mould to say that muscles aren’t just a masculine trait, they can be a strong feminine trait as well. More females have been inspired by my aesthetic than drag queens. They have told me I made them feel beautiful with their fit physiques despite the traditional feminine stereotypes.”

Pairing muscles with a femme aesthetic also provides a political balm for toxic masculinity. “Absolutely – especially in my case,” Michaels agrees. “I have taken a physical aesthetic that could typically be mistaken for toxic masculinity and flipped it upside down. I transform every part of myself to reveal my most feminine characteristics, despite my normal mannerisms and appearance. It’s very important that gay men especially embrace femininity. We have no place for ‘masc for masc’ in our culture anymore.” 

Michaels has also been a beacon of hope for kids who continue to reach out directly for advice and guidance via social media. “With Drag Race we have the platform to reach so many youth,” Michaels muses. “I didn’t have gay idols to look up to when I was little that I could literally send letters and messages to. There have always been gay celebrities, but the kids have such easy access to us and they feel a direct connection to our characters and our stories.”

The fact that people are reaching out to Michaels isn’t the only change post Drag Race. “The biggest change for me has been in my personal life,” Michaels reflects. “I just don’t have as much time for some of the things that were important to me before the show. It’s not necessarily a bad shift, it’s just been an adjustment.” 

A previously gruelling gym regime has gone by the wayside, for one. “I just don’t find the time these days. It’s impossible to maintain the diet and gym schedule that I kept before the show, because I’m constantly on the road and I choose sleep over the gym.”

The payoff is worth it though. For a start, constant competing and performing in the show has helped her confidence. “As with any performer, the more confident you become, the better your shows become. The crowd can feel your energy and the show becomes that much better when you can confidently command the attention of an entire theatre. You cannot be timid or introverted on stage. It just doesn’t work. That’s why my story has been so interesting. It’s because there is such a transformation from my normal life to life on the stage.” 

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World Tour comes to the Palais Theatre on Friday February 8. More information and tickets via the venue website.