You probably know Michelle Visage best as the beautiful, big-bosomed sidekick to RuPaul on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but she’s more than a pretty face with a quick comeback. She’s a wife and mother in continuous recovery from an eating disorder who once considered stripping to pay the bills.
In her new book The Diva Rules, Visage is fearless. Much like on Drag Race, she pulls no punches and gives you the T (translation: truth) with no shame or shyness. She’s a diva, and you can be one, too. In fact, you already are; you just need to unleash your diva force upon the world.
When we talked, Visage said, point blank, “Confidence is the most important thing a person can wear,” which is quite the claim coming from a strong woman who admits a lot of her confidence is just an act — a personal issue she addresses frankly in The Diva Rules.
She said, “I don’t want people to think they’re alone with that self-confidence issue. Even if you fake it, people buy what you’re selling. But when you don’t, people see that. When you’re weak, people prey upon you. So even if you have to fake it until you make it, give everyone the illusion that you’re confident. Then go home and have a breakdown.”
I took her words seriously to heart since I have an anxiety disorder, and sometimes leaving the house can be a heck of a challenge. That said, after finishing The Diva Rules, I totally put feathers in my hair and rocked the grocery story.
Although Visage has pretty much conquered the radio world, writing a book is new territory, but territory she was happy to traverse. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I know I have words that can help people — and that’s the main goal. I don’t think I’m J.K. Rowling,” she said, admitting she’s a huge Harry Potter fan. “I’m writing because people need encouragement.”
And no, she didn’t want to even discuss having a ghostwriter. She said, “It was very important to me that the book be in my voice. When you read it, I want you thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can hear Michelle say that.'” Mission accomplished, which is part of what gives the book its charm. You really can hear Visage’s voice, and she’s got one heck of a voice.
The Diva Rules is filled with useful information, including the vibrator every woman should own and the interesting reason she chose Visage as her stage name. (Oh, and she thinks coconut oil is the best lube ever.)
She talks a bit about her home life as well, including her husband and two daughters. When I asked what was the hardest part about being a mom, her immediate response was, “The teenage years.”
However, despite the dreaded adolescent attitude, Visage is striving to teach her daughters one very important truth. She said, “Teenage girls suffer from self-loathing, thinking they’re not good enough. I hope to teach them that love starts from within. It sounds so cheesy, but it’s so true. You can’t depend on other people for your happiness,” which is a big part of the book’s message.
She writes, “The single most important factor that’s going to determine whether or not you actually make your dream come true, whatever it may be, is not your talent. It’s your tenacity and your willingness to work harder than anyone else to get what you want.”
Visage doesn’t use a gentle hand in The Diva Rules. She calls people on their shit, just like she does on Drag Race. The brutal honesty works, though, and makes you want to get up, go outside and roar in diva victory. But it’s not all line after line of fierce. Visage isn’t afraid to admit to her own weaknesses — for instance, her eating disorder.
“I’m not an active binger or purger,” she said, “but I’ll always be an eating disorder person. Addiction is addiction. People belittle it and say, ‘You’re fat because you eat too much,’ but there is so much more involved. I get so pissed off at people who say, ‘Just stop eating. Reach for celery sticks.’ Oh, f*** off. If it was that easy, everyone would do it.”
See? Honest, but with an attitude.
I leave you with the two wardrobe items Ms. Diva Visage feels are necessary to every woman’s wardrobe: “Every woman needs a pair of well-fitted black trousers. And a pair of black pumps.” Now, go out into the world, divas all, and remember: “Keep calm and sparkle on.”