Interview: Drag Sensation Chad Michaels – CHER-ing The Music

Chad Michaels joins the Seattle Men's Chorus

When they say the name, they say “The One and Only – Cher”! While it is true there is no one exactly like Cher, there are those that come close. Chad Michaels is the first (and usually the final) name associated with the Diva herself. The FIRST “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Star” winner is performing (on limited dates) with the Seattle Men’s Chorus.

The sensational Chad Michaels will be joining the Seattle Men’s Chorus for Believe: The Music of Cher at McCaw Hall – March 30-31, 2019. Get tickets and more info here.

Eric Andrews-Katz:  Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer (other than Cher)?
Chad Michaels: My earliest influence to do Drag was really my Drag Mother Hunter. He was a fearless and beautiful queen who did celebrity impersonation, comedy, and to me was the epitome of what an entertainer should be. He had a severe accident and passed several years ago. I have tried my best to carry on his legacy while creating my own. Hunter was and continues to be my most important influence. 

Andrews-Katz: How old were you when you first started to do drag?
Michaels: I did drag a few times in my late teens but really started performing in 1992 with The Dreamgirls Revue in San Diego.

Andrews-Katz: How old were you when you first impersonated Cher?
Michaels: I was 22 when I started impersonating Cher. Hunter actually put me in drag as Cher for the first time when I was beginning to play with the idea. 

Andrews-Katz: How long – on the average – does it take to put together a new number in a show?
Michaels: Putting together new numbers sometimes takes weeks. It usually depends on the degree of tailoring and styling that needs to be accomplished to create my vision. This usually includes collaboration with designers, hairstylists, and a dozen other valuable resources required to bring my presentation to life.

Andrews-Katz: Out of all the divas, what is your attraction to Cher?
Michaels; My attraction to Cher was seeded way back in the 70s. My parents watched “Sonny and Cher” every week on TV and I was always attracted to the beautiful dark-haired lady in the glittery costumes! As I got older, I began realize the true level of her talent and how badass she was. I was having fun doing drag while bringing a legendary Diva to life on stage. It just kind of worked

Andrews-Katz: You first started out under the name Brigitte Love. Why the name changes?
Michaels: I worked for “An Evening at La Cage” in Las Vegas during the 90s where we were required to be introduced by our male names at the end of each show. I decided to keep using my real name when I left Vegas because, by that time, everyone knew me as Chad Michaels. I prefer it. I completely own my work and I never identified with having a female alias name.

Andrews-Katz: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” can propel a career into major drag stardom. What are some of the detriments about being a winner on the show?
Michaels: I don’t feel that there really are any detriments to being a RPDR winner. Social media can be tricky for anyone who has appeared on the show. If you are not prepared for mass critique on tap, don’t do the show. 

Andrews-Katz: When it comes to performing in drag, you are one with ‘a long history’ of performing. Do you ever get discouraged in the business (from yourself or others) for being your age?
Michaels: There is a multitude of people who seek to degrade and defame the contestants on RPDR for attributes such as their weight, looks, age, etc. I do not get discouraged by my age. I love the fact that I have survived this gay life thus far. That’s the point isn’t it? I am 48 years old this week and have a stellar career that spans two decades. Many can only hope for such longevity. I consider the source when it comes to ageism. 

Andrews-Katz: How have you noticed the art of drag changing over the years?
Michaels: The biggest change in drag that I have observed is this wonderful growing atmosphere of inclusion! Drag is for everyone and everyone is doing it!! Let that little light shine! Live children LIVE!!! 

Andrews-Katz: Has there ever been someone you wanted to impersonate but you knew you just couldn’t for whatever reasons?
Michaels: Barbra Streisand is one character that I have tried several times to impersonate but just haven’t been happy with my results. Barbra is a Diva that you really have to look like or fans just won’t have it! Perhaps I’ll try again! Never accept defeat!!! 

Chad Michaels first made a name for himself professionally appearing in shows along the Las Vegas strip. After establishing his name and appearance, he became a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in Season 4 (first episode airing January 30, 2012). He reappeared as a contestant in “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” Season 1 (first episode airing October 22, 2012) where he was crowned the winner.

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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