Honesty is a virtue until it gets you sent out the door, that is. For the first queen eliminated on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 3, it was her unflinching truth-telling that got her in trouble.
Yes, Morgan McMichaels got sent home by BenDeLaCreme after the latter queen gave Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” the smart, funny treatment in her lip sync. Though she acknowledged that fellow bottom two-dweller Chi Chi DeVayne performed worse, Ben saw Morgan’s pledge to eliminate strong competitors given the chance too threatening. So she sent her home.
The morning after her elimination aired, INTO caught up with Morgan to talk about coming back for All Stars, if she regrets being so honest, and what it is about RuPaul that still makes her nervous.
INTO: Tatianna, who was also from your original season, made a huge splash in All Stars season two. She took a fairly limited fanbase pre-show and grew it ten times over. Did you have hope that you’d experience a similar resurgence on social media through competing on All Stars season three?
Morgan McMichaels (MM): No, I just wanted the money. And the place on the wall. That was more important to me. Of course, it’s a secondary thing, and I’m grateful that the kids have really taken a shine to me. But my whole goal for going back was to win the competition, and kick-start my career that way restart my career by winning and doing it in the competition.
It feels like most of the queens this season really wanted to win All Stars, whereas last season, competitors like Roxxxy Andrews and Phi Phi O’Hara seemed more interested in redeeming their “villain” reputations. Did it feel to you that the All Stars season three queens wanted it more?
MM: The redemption idea, playing it that way, “I don’t want people to see me as a villain”? Actions speak louder than words. You don’t want to be the villain, then don’t be the villain. I think people were not even interested in anything to do with that this year. I think the girls are baying for blood when it comes to the crown. It’s just so important.
After the Lip Sync for Your Legacy, Ben delivered a monologue about her decision. She said that although Chi Chi performed worse, because you were outspoken about your elimination strategy, she was sending you home. How soon into that speech did you know you were getting the chop?
MM: I knew before. I just had a feeling. Unfortunately, when you are very vocal, it doesn’t sit well with people. And that’s understandable. In her mind, she wanted a group consensus, and that’s absolutely OK. That’s the way that she wanted to play the game.
In retrospect, do you wish you had been any more circumspect?
MM: I’m happy with everything I said and delivered. Because I told them, ‘You are my sisters and you are my friends. There’s no reason for me not to tell you the truth.’ I’m glad I told them what was going on, to their faces. There would be no confusion when it comes to the reunion about who or how I eliminated.
Was it frustrating for you to watch All Stars season two and watch queens not be honest about their elimination strategy?
MM: I believe everybody’s journey is their own. Choose that kind of path, and that’s on you. I walked out of All Stars last night with my head held high. I knew I was being honest, and I live my life that way. If you choose not to do that, that’s on you. But I don’t choose to be around things like that, or people like that. You can’t make a judgment based on how they choose to do it, you just have to learn from their choices, and then decide what you want to do with it.
During the variety show challenge, you chose to do a lip-sync to your own track, which you said you’d never done before. What inspired that decision?
MM: Once they said we were doing a variety show, I said, ‘OK, there’s options.’ There were different things we could do. Even on season two, I liked to take risks. That’s what gives you the butterflies when you first start doing drag on stage. My wedding dress my wedding theme didn’t go particularly well. But I liked the risk. So this time around, I wanted to do something that you would never see me do in a club.
I live in West Hollywood, and I’ve been to Showgirls at Micky’s plenty. So I’ve seen you as both host and performer. And the one word I’d never use to describe you onstage is “nervous.” But you did seem nervous during last night’s challenge. Was there something about being on that Drag Race stage again that made you anxious?
MM: As I said to Michelle [Visage], I was getting judged by the legendary Michelle. And being in front of Ru? I’ve seen celebrities up and down WeHo. As you know from living in WeHo, they’re everywhere. You run into them everywhere. And I’m never, ever nervous. But being around Ru makes me very nervous. There’s something about it.
Speaking of Showgirls, as host and regular performer, you’ve seen a lot of these girls do their acts live. Did you feel you had a leg up, or that you knew some of their tricks?
MM: No, because I think we’re all in the same boat. We’ve all seen each other perform. The girls come to Micky’s all the time and just sit in the audience to watch. But also, you can never expect anything from a queen, especially on Drag Race, when it comes to pulling stunts. You do whatever you can to win the lip sync. Just look at our winner last year, Sasha Velour. She really brought new meaning to the term ‘gag-worthy performance.’ I never expect anything, and I would never say I have one-up on them. Because I just don’t think I do. All’s fair in love and war.
MM: And drag!