By Edward Castro, October 2018 Issue.
After encountering drag while working as a go-go dancer, Dane Young first dabbled in the art form at the age of 18. At the time, he was working full-time as a hair stylist and donning the makeup, wigs and heels on the weekends.
Fast-forward 14 years and his alter ego, Kameron Michaels, is taking her drag on a world tour. But it didn’t happen overnight.
To overcome a difficult breakup, he beat his mug to filth and auditioned for the 10th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The Nashville queen was announced as part of the cast Feb. 22 and, as soon as filming started, she was quickly dubbed “Bodybuilder Barbie,” “the trade of Season 10” and, eventually, the season’s lip sync assassin, having lip synched for her life four times in a row without being sent home. Oh, and she earned runner-up bragging rights.
Now, she’s headed to Phoenix as part of the Official RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Tour, co-starring Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Eureka, Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi and Violet Chachki, and hosted by celebrity judge Michelle Visage.
Echo Magazine caught up with Michaels as she prepares to the “Werq the World,” to find out more about her experience on the show, her drag idols and her memorable verse during the finale episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season X.
Echo: Where did the name Kameron Michaels come from?
Michaels: My name is pretty random: Kameron, because I wanted something androgynous, and Michaels, because there were none at the time in my city when I picked my name over a decade ago.
Echo: Who were/are some of your drag inspirations?
Michaels: Erica Andrews, Sasha Colby, Roxxxy Andrews, Raja, Aurora Sexton, Brooklyn Hytes, Bianca Del Rio. All for different reasons.
Echo: Some pageant royalty and some RPDR veterans, I see. So, how many times did you audition for the show?
Michaels: I sent a last-minute audition for, I believe, Season 7. I literally sent it in minutes before the deadline, so I’m not even sure they saw it. One time, two if you count that one.
Echo: How was your experience on the show? If asked to do All Stars would you return for another season?
Michaels: My experience was pretty rough. I was very intimidated by the whole experience. I was in survival mode and forgot to have fun. Yes, I would love another opportunity to showcase my personality.
Echo: In the final episode of Season 10, the top four had to write a verse to the RuPaul song “American.” Your verse seemed very personal and from the heart. What was your inspiration for writing those words? What message did you want to send across in that 30 seconds?
Michaels: My verse has spoken to SO MANY people as it’s a common story for gay youth, many of us were bullied and ostracized by our peers. I wanted to be very real and very honest about where I came from because it’s important for people to know that I dealt with the same things they were or are dealing with now. And that it DOES GET BETTER!
Echo: It does! And how has your life changed since RPDR?
Michaels: Drastically. I’m usually a homebody, going out only occasionally. Now, it’s quite the opposite! I’m adjusting to life on the road fairly well; I just miss my couch sometimes.
Echo: Speaking of life on the road, what’s your favorite part about taking your brand on tour?
Michaels: The fans are always my favorite part. Despite my demeanor on the show, I’m quite blessed to have the fan base that I have. I wish I had more time to see the sites in the cities I visit, but my schedule does not normally allow that.
Echo: This tour stars you, the other top three from your season as well as a few queens from previous seasons. What can the audience expect from
Michaels: Voss Events is a long-running event business so you can always expect top-quality production and entertainment. I’m most excited to spend time with my sisters, as a lot of us don’t get to see each other because we are always in different cities. I’m also very stoked to meet some of the alumni and work with them as well!
Echo: Speaking of the sisterhood, what would you tell a queen who’s interested in auditioning for the show?
Michaels: THINK TWICE! It’s not for everyone and a lot of girls realize that once they get there. It’s hard. So hard. Mentally, physically, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s an amazing experience; just make sure you’re really ready to go all in.
Echo: After it’s all said and done, what do you hope that you are remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Michaels: I want my legacy to be my relatability. I struggle with life and hardships just like everyone else and I’m very honest about that. Nothing is cooler to me than meeting one of your idols and having something in common with them, especially a hardship you have both overcome. AND TO BE KIND. I’m drama-free and I would love to see more of that in our world. PUPPIES AND KITTIES AND RAINBOWS DAMMIT!.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World
9 p.m. Oct. 9
203 W. Adams St., Phoenix