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Alexis Michelle Reflects on All Stars 8, New Music, & Broadway Dreams

Alexis Michelle Reflects on All Stars 8, New Music, & Broadway Dreams

Alexis Michelle
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“I am absolutely still pursuing my ongoing life in the theater, and there are definitely shows that I could see myself in,” the RuPaul’s Drag Race star tells Out.

If you want Alexis Michelle’s apples, you better shake her tree.

After breaking out as a global star on RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine, Michelle returned to Mama Ru’s werk room to compete on All Stars 8 against the likes of Jimbo, Kandy Muse, and Jessica Wild, to name a few. Despite finishing the race in fourth place, Michelle got to re-introduce herself to Drag Race fans, make great television, show her incredible glow-up, and even perform an original song that’s paving the way for the future of her career.

In 2023 alone, Michelle has dropped four pop tracks titled “God Is a Queen,” “Manpig,” “I’m Too Much,” and “Heaven on the Dance Floor.” She has also released two theatrical songs, “If You Want My Apples” and “Lulu’s Shoes,” both in collaboration with Brandon James Gwinn.

During an interview with Out, Michelle broke down her highs and lows on All Stars 8, shared her plans for releasing new original music, and talked about her dreams of performing on Broadway.

Scroll through to read Out’s full interview with Alexis Michelle – and make sure to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 now streaming on Paramount+.

Out: How would you define your overall experience on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 8?

Alexis Michelle: It's been a wild ride. Highs, lows, everything in between. It's hard to boil down the experience into just a few words, but it is a wild ride. And as ever, I'm grateful for the opportunity on the platform.

I really enjoyed your variety show number of 'If You Want My Apples,' and I heard that you performed an extended version of that song in your recent Joe's Pub performance. How did it feel to do this performance on All Stars 8 and then get to do it again at Joe's Pub?

Brandon James Gwinn, my collaborator and friend, he's an amazing composer. When we were coming up with what to do for a talent show on All Stars, I had something in mind. He said, 'Well, let me write you an original,' so this new song was modeled after 'Let Me Entertain You' from Gypsy. And I got to do everything I wanted to do: I got to sing, I got to tell a couple jokes, and then have a big showy finish. We got to do everything in the context of the number. When Brandon originally wrote it, he knew he had to make all that happen in one minute for the purposes of All Stars, and he did a beautiful job of that.

But of course, to really write a complete song, you can't just focus on an excerpt… so he wrote the full song, and the full song is brilliant. We got to perform the full song at Joe's Pub and we've put out the full song that you can stream everywhere now. You'll also be able to stream a second original that Brandon wrote for me that we also performed at Joe's Pub, and that's called 'Lulu's Shoes.'

In some ways, even though it was just one minute long, the variety show performance was kind of what I've been waiting to do my whole drag career, which was sing live and theatrically on Drag Race. So that was a real dream come true. And while I know there's only so much that can fit into each episode, I wish the world could have heard all of the beautiful things RuPaul said to me after the performance.

During your interview for Jan's YouTube channel, and also during your appearance at Roscoe's Tavern, you referred to this moment that you got with RuPaul where she said really nice things to you. I wonder if you can share what you were looking forward to seeing on the show but that didn't make the final cut.

I was looking forward to hearing it because it was really one of the most affirming moments I've ever had in relation to my biggest, brightest dreams, which really include being on the Broadway stage. I felt so seen by RuPaul. My admiration of Ru goes back to my childhood. Ru was the person, the fixture, the name in drag when I was growing up. And has remained that way and has only become an even bigger household name. My love and admiration of Ru has been ever-growing.

To be seen in this way after doing a performance that was so authentically me… [it] was a treasure that I'll have with me for the rest of my life. It's a bummer that we didn't get to see all the beautiful things that were said. And who knows, I'm not ready to say them now, but maybe someday I will.

I was happy to see that All Stars 8 aired a conversation where you got to explain your decision for eliminating LaLa Ri, and LaLa seemed to understand your reasoning. How did it feel to see that being featured on the show? I know a lot of people only keep up with the show and don't see anything else, so that was very important, I think, just to show in the episode.

Yeah, I was glad we got to see that, because it was a very sincere and genuine moment that we shared together. And I wish the best for all my Drag Race sisters, especially in this cast on All Stars 8. I never had any ill wishes for anybody, especially LaLa, and seeing my actions so misconstrued online has been really unfortunate. I was glad that we got to see a shared moment of sincerity between the two of us.

I'm assuming you all prepared your variety show numbers to potentially perform them in the first episode of All Stars 8. That's how it's always been done, except for the all-winners season. But I think it ended up being great for a semifinal episode as it led to your performance at Joe's Pub, as well as your career moving forward doing these kinds of performances and theater. How did you feel about it?

Yeah, totally! I thought that it would be a lovely introduction for me on the season. But in fact, I think that it is a lovely palette cleanser. And yeah, I'd be very happy to be remembered just like that.

You've released a few new songs throughout 2023. Are these tracks all leading up to an EP and/or album? Or are you more focused on releasing standalone songs for the time being?

I've got four pop songs out right now and we released them as singles, but really they are part of a collection. They really are their own EP. And similarly, Brandon and I have these two musical theater originals, which are also kind of part of their own EP. So while we're putting them out as singles, we'll probably release them as an EP. I think Brandon has some more originals in the works, so I think before we put out an EP of them, he'll probably want to complete those.

Do you think that EP would come out this year? Or is it something we're exploring for 2024?

We don't have a set timeline for that. Obviously, my schedule is pretty wild right now. I've already started traveling and don't really stop until November, so we'll see when we have time to finish those. Maybe it'll happen in time for the holidays. Maybe it'll be something to enjoy in the early part of 2024. We'll see. There's no set agenda for the music that hasn't already been produced and isn't set to come out.

You are known as one of the ultimate theater queens from Drag Race. Having seen all of the success that Jinkx Monsoon had in Chicago, and Peppermint more recently in A Transparent Musical, what are your theater aspirations? Are there certain shows you would really love to be attached to?

My first dreams, the whole reason I wanted to be a performer, stemmed from seeing shows on Broadway as a small kid. Those dreams are as alive as they've ever been, and I'm still pursuing them. It's been so exciting to see the successes that my sisters have had. I was there on Jinkx's opening night in Chicago and it was incredible. And Chicago is a huge lifelong dream of mine that I have faith will come true, eventually. And I was just in total awe and admiration when I got to be there. I was also there to see Peppermint in Head Over Heels, when she made history on Broadway. I am absolutely still pursuing my ongoing life in the theater, and there are definitely shows that I could see myself in now, like Chicago and Wicked... Even Sweeney Todd, although they'd have to take my dream role in Sweeney Todd in a very different direction if they wanted to put me in.

What is your dream role in Sweeney Todd?

Well, when I was younger, I was very much on the bass-baritone track. So playing Sweeney was actually always something I wanted to do. But actually, I think playing Mrs. Lovett would be really interesting.

Oh, Mrs. Lovett is one of the most fascinating characters in musical theater, so that would be such a treat. But Sweeney Todd is also a character that is basically male drag, so I feel like having a drag performer playing Sweeney would be different and entertaining.

I want to entertain and tell stories in all different kinds of presentations and costumes, so I'm not married to performing only in drag. My gender is very fluid, and that's the same way I want to tell stories. So I feel like there's a whole world of possibility within theater, both roles that exist, and roles that have yet to be created that I would love to step into.

Circling back to your experience on All Stars 8, is there a friendship that you developed with a queen that maybe we didn't see on the show? Is there a moment that you'd like to talk about that maybe we didn't air in the season?

Being a part of this cast was really special, and I have nothing but the best wishes for everybody in the cast. I'm so proud to be a part of this group. But speaking specifically to what we have seen on the show, I think what we finally got just a little peek at was my love and my friendship with Jessica Wild. You saw when we all entered the room, when Jessica came and joined the line, you saw us have a nice hug, and that is indicative of what my love and friendship with Jessica is like.

Jessica Wild is wonderful and a Drag Race OG, so it was wonderful to see her back.

I will say, when we finished filming Drag Race, I was so excited for Jessica. She's always been one of everybody's favorites, mine included. I just knew that this was going to be an incredible experience for Jessica, and I'm so happy for her.

Coming out of All Stars 8, what do you hope that fans got to understand about your drag, and from you as an artist, that perhaps was misunderstood back in season nine?

Ru said something really wise to us when he gave us some advice, which was about feelings and about how they pass. I think what's important is to take sort of two ideas at the same time.

One, that feelings can be overwhelming, they can feel like more than you can bear, or cope with, or manage. But when feelings get to feel like that, I think it's important to remember that they do pass, that it does get easier. However, it's also really important to bear witness to them, to allow yourself to feel things that come up within you, because if you don't, they can come out in the wrong places and at the wrong times. And so never, never apologize or try to stifle your own feeling and your own emotions. So that's just one bit of wisdom I'd give to anybody in their lives.

But as far as me and my sort of contribution as a drag artist: my drag is all about celebrating women. It's about bringing joy. It's about living authentically. Aside from fulfilling my own truth and expressing my own truth, my hope is to be able to inspire other artists and young people just to live and express their own truth. That's really my greatest wish at this point in my career. And if I can make any young person feel okay or feel great about themselves in their authentic self and their authentic life… then that's my greatest goal.

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.