Morgan McMichaels is forever upbeat. And quite possibly, always in high heels.
Originally from Alexandria, Scotland, McMichaels turned heads with stunning attire and sharp wit on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the third season RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.
But McMichaels has long been a performer locally and affectionately recalls her early drag days nearly 20 years ago when performing at Toucans in Palm Springs happened to be one of the main drag hotspots at the time.
McMichaels and a passionate posse of other drag performers captured the interest of locals last year when Moxie Palm Springs brought drag into their creative mix of dining and entertainment. More attention followed. McMichaels’ recent release of a high-energy music video – playfully dubbed Ass Like Mine – is a glorious celebration of all body types and an invitation to truly lean into your self-esteem. That’s some fine medicine, especially during challenging times.
McMichaels shares more with Palm Springs Life.
Things really took off at Moxie’s last year.
We’re very grateful. Starting this new show at a venue that is not exclusively a gay venue, the owners have embraced us with open arms. We’ve been able to do something good for the community. The owners wanted to create a space where we bring people together who have not been together in the past. I think that speaks volumes for their character.
What was it like 18 years ago when you were just starting out and performing in Palm Springs?
Palm Springs has the most amazing people who come from all over the country and the world to retire or just move here. That said, they have been entertained across the country and the world by the best entertainers. So, performing for people in Palm Springs is very difficult because they have seen the best of the best around the world. Back then, it was a challenge. And of course, the demographic has changed over the years. The LGBTQ community has been accepted in society so there is a lot more heterosexual clientele now. But I was very lucky that people here embraced me with open arms as a new queen and new talent. I am very grateful to Tommi Rose [of Toucans] to get the work and there’s still a very high bar in Palm Springs to this day.
What’s the biggest difference now?
There are a lot more drag shows. Eighteen years ago, it was just Toucans. My experience throughout those 18 years with other queens, and in meetings with others and my drag mother in Palm Springs, Chad Michaels – who won All Stars – is that you build a family. I’m very grateful to the people here. They are my family. They are my home.
When did you know for sure you wanted to be a performer?
I didn’t think I had the capacity for drag. When more gigs came and I became a part of Dreamgirls, the longest-running drag group performing in Southern California – 30 years of a rotating cast of entertainers – it became something I could make really great money doing and I still got to meet people. That’s my favorite part – meeting people – and I still got to perform and express my femininity and creativity. It just sort of happened.
What was the best thing about being on RuPauls Drag Race?
The best thing about being on the show is that you're a part of history. I will forever be involved with something that was a movement that changed how society views our community and we have also had our lives change for the better – from traveling the world to meeting so many creative and fantastic people. In many ways, because of the blessing of this show, it is our responsibility to use our platform that we have been given for the betterment of our community and society, in general. Queens have always been at the forefront of the community and we need to stay there and push ahead
Tell me more about what inspired the title of your latest release?
There was a running joke since my time on Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race that "California girls don't pad," and since my time on Season 2, my ass has, through padding, gotten bigger and bigger to the point where it is said that if someone shot me in the ass while in drag, the bullet wouldn't hit the skin. [Laughs] But here are two inspirations to the song’s title. The first is that basically the title is a metaphor for a feeling of never giving in or giving up – no matter what stands in your way. It’s a testament to the strength of drag queens and the people in the LGBTQIAA community really. Nothing has and nothing will stop us. We are a disenfranchised community with nothing but fighters and that is how it has always been from the Stonewall Riots to the AIDS crisis and all of our fight here and beyond. I am so lucky to be a part of these brave people every day of my life and I thought why not put a fun tune to the fight. The second inspiration is a great self-esteem builder. We all come in different shapes and sizes and it’s all about how you package it. The #asslikeminechallenge [on Instagram] is about getting people out there to be proud of their booties; show them off and knowing that … “when you have an ass like mine you can bounce back.”
Any advice for us during these curious times?
This is a time for all of the Kings and Queens to lead the way and our community to come together to help each other. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay home for others who might not be as healthy as you are.
Keep track of Morgan McMichaels on Instagram (@morganmcmichaels) and stay abreast of when to experience Morgan live at Moxie Palm Springs, 262 S Palm Canyon Drive, second floor, in Palm Springs, at moxiepalmsprings.com.