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Michelle Visage reveals why RuPaul told Pearl: ‘Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling’

Tea was spilled at the BBC Three finale screening of 'Drag Race UK' on Thursday night (21 November).

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Don’t worry kitty gurl, this story does not contain spoilers for the final episode of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’.

It’s the drag beef that’s cast a shadow over RuPaul’s Drag Race for more than a year – and now judge Michelle Visage has publicly commented on that row between Ru and former US contestant Pearl.

In case you’re not up to speed, season 7 finalist Pearl claimed last year that the reason for her strained relationship with Ru during her time on the show was because of a “disrespectful” comment the legendary drag star had made to her off-camera which “broke her spirit”.

Appearing on an episode of drag talk show Hey Qween, the 29-year-old peformer, real name Matthew Lenk, said: “I turned to RuPaul and said, ‘Oh my god, thank you so much. It’s such a honour to be here, such a pleasure to meet you, you have no idea.’ Just giving her everything I ever wanted to say to her.

“She turned to me and she said: ‘Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling’.”

“In that moment, it was so heartbreaking because I idolised her. I worshipped her. I felt like it was just so disrespectful.”

Appearing alongside finalists Divina De Campo, Baga Chipz and The Vivienne at the BBC Three finale screening of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in London on Thursday (22 November), Michelle Visage – who has appeared as a judge on the series since season three in 2011 – revealed that Ru’s apparent slight against Pearl wasn’t personal, but occurred because contestants are banned from speaking to one another off-camera during production.

After the Drag Race UK finalists were asked by an audience member what surprised them most about how the series was made, Divina replied: “It’s the fact you’re not allowed to talk to each other.

“If the camera’s aren’t rolling, you don’t speak. You don’t speak in the van; you don’t speak in the workroom; you don’t speak anywhere.”

The admission prompted Michelle to add: “Which is where that quote from Pearl came from, with Ru – that whole drama with Ru saying ‘If the cameras aren’t rolling it doesn’t count’. Because they want the magic.”

The Vivienne interjected: “Ru is there to do a job; we were there to do a job. The one thing I will say which was the biggest surprise is [that] everything is done in one take.

“If you f**k up your Snatch Game, there’s no ‘Oh can I do that again’, it’s ‘We’re rolling – if you f**k up sorry, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Divina, referring to her own impression of chef Julia Childs, then quipped: “Justice for Julia.”

Always on hand to provide a healthy dose of shade, The Viv replied: “No amount of takes was saving that, girl…”

So there you have it. It remains to be seen whether Pearl and Ru could patch things up enough to give us the Pearl All Stars appearance we deserve – but it looks like the door might be open…