Ru Paul's Drag Race star Michelle Visage on giving fans an intimate look at her life in lockdown with new TV series How's Your Head, Hun?
Ireland's Got Talent and Ru Paul's Drag Race star Michelle Visage is giving fans and TV viewers an intimate look at her life in lockdown with her new BBC Three series How's Your Head, Hun?, available on BBC iPlayer now. The US celebrity talks about working with her family and explains why you won't see her baking sourdough during lockdown
SOCIAL media may be flooded with pictures of perfect banana bread and home-baked sourdough loaves, but don't expect to see them feature in Michelle Visage's new TV series.
"Doesn't it take like eight hours to make a loaf of sourdough bread?" she asks down the phone, speaking from her home across the pond ahead of How's Your Head, Hun?, available on BBC iPlayer now.
If you've watched her on the small screen, be it as a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race or Ireland's Got Talent, you'll know the 51-year-old American star is never anything but flawlessly turned out.
But the coronavirus, quarantine and lockdown means even celebrities are having to turn their hand to all types of new things – like becoming your own make-up artist or filming your own TV series entirely from home.
And that's exactly what viewers will see Visage and her family – husband David and her youngest daughter Lola – doing. Her eldest daughter Lillie is away at university.
"I would describe it, I think, it's like the anti-Kardashian, and it's not that I'm anti (them), it's just that we are a regular family in regular situations, in a regular house, doing regular things but we do it with heart, we do it with love, we do it with energy and we do it with determination," she says.
"My husband is a one man crew, he is doing, I'm not kidding – he's doing the camera, the lighting, he's doing the sound and for people that don't know television, there are crews that do the sound, crews that do the lighting, not just one person and he is literally doing all of it.
"By the time we go to sleep– and this is a man who has insomnia who would be up, you know, he could stay up and he sleeps three or four hours a night – he crashes hook, line and sinker on that bed, snoring and all, nightly."
So, how has he fared in the transition from husband to professional camera man?
You can almost feel her proud smile down the phone as she enthuses: "He is actually really good at all of it. When I met him, he was an actor, he was in Juilliard, he's an actor, and he's also a writer. He's always been on that side of it, but he's a theatre kid at heart so he knows instinctively what to do and he's actually really good at it. He's only messed up a few times, but trust me you'll see the mess ups on the show because I make them very clear".
During the course of the series, viewers will see Visage interviewing a few other famous faces, among them Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall and This Morning's Dr Ranj Singh. Also in the mix is Visage's former Strictly Come Dancing alumni, fashion presenter Susannah Constantine.
The pair both showed off their prowess on the dance floor during last year's series of the BBC One show, with Visage paired with Giovanni Pernice. The twosome were a hit with viewers and made it as far as the ninth week of the competition.
As a former singer, Visage was a member of the band Seduction in her earlier years, she's also no stranger to the theatre and in 2018 delighted audiences in the West End production Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
Bright lights aside, will viewers be seeing the charismatic and down-to-earth TV star all glammed-up 24/7 or not?
"You will absolutely see me without make-up and also I will be doing my own make-up, so it will be very different to the makeup that you see on Drag Race for sure," she says, adding: "My make-up artist is going to hang her head in shame but you'll be seeing the real deal, the real me, me at home when I'm not put together by a team.
"I have a good sense of style but I cannot do my hair, my nails have all fallen off, like you're going to see the whole progress of me basically deconstructing right before your eyes. You know when we started this we were all like 'I'm going to work out twice a day, I'm going to eat nothing but vegetables, I'm going to clean my whole house… and by week three we were all like 'Alright, can I get some ice-cream and crisps please?'."
The use of the word 'crisps' seems a particularly colloquial reference given that in her home country they'd be referred to as 'chips'. But Visage is no stranger to Britain and Ireland. Strictly aside, she also appeared on screen in Celebrity Big Brother in 2015. She's become a fan favourite on the small screen here and when asked why she thinks she's resonated so much with UK audiences, she puts it down to her genuine love of this side of the Atlantic.
She explains: "I don't know but what I can say is that I think when a lot of Americans do reality shows over there, or come on as guests or whatever, it's like 'Oh my god, I love the UK so much', and then they leave. I actually properly fell in love with your country when I was 13 and came over for the first time.
"I don't know if you believe in past lives, I do for our souls and I really believe there's a part of me that was British in my past life. I properly love your country. I can decipher accents one from another. If you do a Geordie accent and put them next to a Liverpudlian, most Americans not only will not understand them, but will think it's the same thing or won't know where they are from.
"So, at the end of the day I love your beautiful country, and I think that's why there's a genuineness as to me really loving to be there and loving the people."
But back to the series and that question about the baking.
"You will see absolutely no sourdough you will see absolutely no banana bread," she says.
"I have no idea why all of a sudden people have a fascination with sourdough, I really don't, so no you won't be seeing that here. First of all, I couldn't do it and second of all, doesn't it take like eight hours to make a loaf of sourdough bread? I can barely commit to making dinner let alone sourdough.
"But you will see me cooking and doing things that I do and my ways of doing things you know… (there'll be) no bread baking in this house, I can't be bothered. Not to mention I'm gluten free and people would be so bored watching me make gluten free sourdough, it would be like a paper weight".
:: BBC Three's How's Your Head, Hun? is on BBC iPlayer now.