Famous for her role as judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Michelle Visage is also not afraid to open the library on matters of spirituality. After once briefly dabbling in Scientology and discovering that the religion equates gay people with pedophiles and murderers, she told the church “Girl, bye.”
Years ago, Visage’s friend and (now former) Scientology member, The King of Queens’ Leah Remini, suggested she check out the church. At the time, Visage was a single mom looking for guidance, and the church presented itself as more of a self-help, educational resource.
“They start out and they get you in good with some really important courses that can help your way of life,” she told Las Culturistas hosts Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers on the latest episode.
“So, I go in to take these courses, and then I did the $50 ones and then the $100 ones,” Visage went on. “Mind you, I was working on the radio, so I didn’t have a lot of salary. It came to, like, the $1,800 one. I said I didn’t have the money to do it, and they said, ‘Well, you can borrow a friend’s credit card,’ and I was like, ‘What kind of friends you think I got?'”
Between the inflated price tag and the pressure to engage in some casual credit fraud, the church was showing its true colors. By this time, Visage recognized that she was at a turning point. “It was time to make a commitment or get out,” she said. “I was like, something doesn’t feel right.”
As it turned out, the church itself made the decision very easy for her. One day, Visage decided to look into the church’s “tone scale,” which gives a moral rating for different kinds of people.
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“Murderers and pedophiles are down at 100 and a deity, a god, is at 0,” Visage explained. “I started going through the scale, and literally at 90-something was pedophiles, murderers, and homosexuals. So I took the book, and I shut it.”
When a church teacher confronted her about this, Visage gave them a glimpse of future TV judge excellence. ”I said, ‘I quit,’ and I walked out,” she recalled. “Girl, bye.”
In 2013, Remini effected a much more public exit from the church. Along with former high-ranking member Mike Rinder, she later produced an A&E documentary series about her experience, titled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. She and Rinder now host the Fair Game podcast detailing the abuses of the church.
Even the best of us fall for scams in vulnerable moments, and we’re just glad Visage’s stint in Scientology was a short one. These days, Visage is heading back to the judge’s chair on Thursday when RuPaul’s Drag Race UK returns to BBC Three.