Category Archives: REALITY TV RECAPS

Recapping THE BEST in Reality and Scripted Television from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to “So You Think You Can Dance” to “Real Housewives.” Gay Popular Culture Blogger Steven Michael TELLS ALL!

A Few Thoughts on a Saturday Evening

Sissy That WalkI haven’t been online too much these days. I’ve had plenty to say but I’ve been so busy working full-time at the gym and getting ready to compete for Entertainer of the Year now two months away I really haven’t had the desire to blog or journal. A few great thoughts this way comes! From the world of sports to gay culture to the events one must attend, I’m breaking down as many as I can fit it!

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Gay Culture Crashes Into 2014

Olympics 2014When social media buzzes, people listen. And the talk happening right now? Ah, it’s getting crazy up in here with the goings on. The Sochi Olympics have dominated many a television except for ours. We really haven’t been bothered in the slightest. With all of the calls for boycotts, spewed hatred and anti-LGBT treatment gays in Russia go through the last thing we want to do is watch something they produced. What?! Oh, that’s right. I meant to check on the spread of the Curling competition and place my bets. Not.

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Kim Gravel Interview: Pageant Coach Supreme

Kim GravelI love having exclusive access to my favorites making waves in today’s pop culture, entertainment industry breakouts and the ultra fabulous. My next guest is all of the above and so much more! People, I introduce Kim Gravel. Take note: It’s pronounced “gra-velle.” This incredible lady coaches eager girls to pageant victories, mentors the willing and creates a bond between her and the young ladies forever true. She is truly amazing from what we see on her smash hit Kim of Queens on Lifetime TV. My husband and I watch every week.

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Laganja Estranja Interview: Drag Race Royalty

Laganja Estranja - RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6I wanted to call this “High Times of a Drag Superstar” but alas, I did not. Through social networking and creating trust among the queens, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing a great number of RuPaul’s Drag Race divas throughout the years. When the rumors began to swirl about the new cast for season 6 of RDR, I knew that regardless of who made the final cut I’d be speaking with attention-getting Laganja Estranja. Isn’t her name delicious?!

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Lashauwn Beyond Speaks To Her Fans

lashauwn-beyond-rupauls-drag-raceLashauwn Beyond is one busy queen. Seamstress, reality star, drag superstar performer. I was able to catch her for a hot minute or two for an interview to discuss what’s life like now for her after her stint on RuPaul’s Drag Race and what she’s doing today. Although, her time on the show was brief her passion and talents run deep. I’m thrilled she’s here to share all the Tea and nothing but the Tea.

Welcome to the stage, Lashauwn Beyond.

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Quick ReCap of Project Runway Season 12

Project Runway_12We admittedly tuned out of Project Runway on Lifetime TV for lack of interest the last couple of seasons but decided to check it out and set the DVR again taping the reality showcase of fashion, drama and something this season so shockingly delicious it was hard to believe I was seeing what thine eyes saw. The season has been good but of course the drama has been turned up between the designers. They encourage we viewers to use social media like never-before to engage while viewing with what we’re thinking about the challenges and judge’s decisions in real time. When did we stop enjoying the television and begin keeping our smartphones glued to our hands? I think it’s crazy. Yes my iPhone is in my hand or very near but don’t instruct me on when to use it and when not to.

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Introducing Dancing Firecracker JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa

I’ve really found my forte has become celebrity interviews. They are something I really enjoy doing and just having the honor to conduct them is a special privilege I have. When I was in L.A. at the Glendale Studios seeing a live taping of Lifetime TV smash hit Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition this past spring, I took notice of a little blonde spitfire named JoJo, 10, who truly danced her dance. I was there interviewing Lady Gaga creative director Richy Jackson, one of the judges for AUDC, as JoJo really stood out to the choreographer in me. She will be hell in heels when she grows up.

Since the second season of AUDC hits Lifetime TV on 9/3 I reached out to JoJo and her wonderful mother Jessalynn about allowing me to introduce her talented wonderwall of extension and strut of sass to our big gay world. I was thrilled they replied so quickly.  So glad she supplied the amazing photos, as well. Sadly, few do. I sent the girls an email  saying, “Here’s a round of Q/A for you both. They are geared towards JoJo but I will note where Mamma can answer, too.” Here’s what they shared about dancing for Abby Lee Miller, fun out-of-studio time for JoJo and what it felt like shooting reality television. Just love what they both said…

jojo siwa_3

Steven Michael – JoJo, Did you ever get scared or intimidated by the lights or camera?

JoJo Siwa – “No, I loved them!”

I love them to. That will never change. How about Abby Lee Miller? Did you ever feel that she was ever too mean to you? She’s stern and strong with her ways.

“No, Abby was always good to me.”

Mamma, did you ever feel as if Abby was too hard or critical on JoJo?

Jessalynn Siwa - “No, I knew going into the show Abbys teaching techniques.”

Yes, I suppose you know what you’re getting into by working with Abby. Mamma, what attracted you to having JoJo on the show? Was there an audition to go through?

“JoJo dances all day long and watches Dance Moms over and over. I think it’s nearly every dancer’s dream to dance with or for Abby. Yes, there was an audition.”

JoJo Siwa

Growing up and dancing in my day, there were very few studios that train like her girls do on the show. They, of course, were the studios that everyone achieved to be like. It really is what you put into it. How was it working with the other competition moms? Any ones we should watch out for?

“Well, whenever you have dance you have dance moms. (smiling) Crazy moments and super fun moments. Yes! Watch for the ‘TRIANGLE.’”

jojo siwa_2

Oh, that sounds juicy. I can’t wait. JoJo, how much time do you spend dancing a week in class or otherwise? Is being a dancer what you want to so when you grow up?

“I dance around 20 hours a week. I would love to be FAMOUS!!!!”

Darling, you will be famous. Have fun with it and keep grounded. Stay close to Mamma and point those toes. JoJo, who are your idols in the dance world?

“Abby Lee, Rachelle Rak and Richy Jackson.”

Oh, I never would have guessed. (lauhging) Three great choices, nonetheless. Mamma, can you give me a brief bit about where JoJo is from and do you have dance background?

“JoJo and I are from Nebraska. I have been dancing my whole life. I have had a dance studio for 20 years.”

JoJo Siwa

Oh, wow! That’s fierce. I really miss being in a studio. JoJo, that scorpion extension is mind-blowing. When I saw you do it live during the taping I was blown away. How did you learn it and can you teach me?

(smiling) “I would love to teach you but you have to be flexible and have tons of control. That was one of those tricks my mom made me do over and over and now I can do it on a dime.”

Well, it’s phenomenal. What do you enjoy doing when you’re outside the studio? And do you have a lot of friends outside the dance world?

“I love to play the piano and play with my two dogs LuLu and CoCo. I am super social and have tons of friends. We like to swim, have slumber parties, go to the movies and just hang out!”

JoJo Siwa head shot

Sounds very fun! Mamma, how do you feel about Dance Moms and the outrageousness of it?

“Outrageous… nahhhh.” (smiling)

jojo siwa_1

JoJo, I was able to visit with judge Richy Jackson the day I saw the taping live. Did you appreciate what he told you during critiques?

“I absolutely love Richy and took everything he (and the other judges ) said seriously. I loved getting compliments from them!!!”

I was there the Gaga-inspired day and yes they did give you great critique. You’ll have so many people tell you so many different things. Even people will tell you what they think you want to hear. Keep an open mind but also realize it is all so subjective. Especially in performing while being judged. I wish you the best of luck with your career. Mamma, did you ever shy away from the cameras? What was that like being under the lens?

“No, I was never shy. You will see! (smiling) It was fun. An experience of a lifetime!”

jojo siwa

And finally, JoJo, can you tell me who wins the competition, please?! I have to know. (laughing)

“Nooooooooooooooo!!!! Ha Ha, I am laughing too!” (both laughing) “Thank you sooooooo much!” Jessalynn and JoJo.

And to my gays… WATCH OUT for this one. JOJO IS DYNAMITE! The new season of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition starts next week on Lifetime TV. Watch for me in episode 2 giving you on-camera audience realness for your nerves. X

Interviewing Richy Jackson – AUDIO

richard-jackson

I love having occasional access to the hottest movers and shakers in Hollywood today. I was able to sit backstage with Lady Gaga’s main man Richy Jackson as he was preparing for a taping of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition one day last spring. We kiki’d the ki, for realsies. I hit record and what was said became organic and real between us two. We had a lot in common and here’s what we discussed that crazy day inside Glendale Studios. Of my many celebrity interviews, speaking with Ricky Jackson one-on-one was a complete thrill! We bonded immediately.

Richy Jackson - Steven Michael - AUDC

Richy is good people. This I know is true! So talented but incredibly humble and real. Follow him on Twitter and catch his latest work. The new season of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition starts 09/03. Look for me on the second episode (I believe) which was the Lady Gaga-inspired installment showing out for the camera. They ask a lot of their audiences. And watch out for firecracker JoJo. ♥

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE

Interviewing DETOX – Drag Sensation Comes Clean!

Detox Drag Queen

When it comes to drag queen entertainers I honestly consider myself a privileged connoisseur since I’ve known some of the greats very well, seen the very best and witnessed greatness onstage. I always say that I was raised by drag queens because when I first came out at 18 they took me under their wings and to some degree, gave me mine. I found my sharp tongue, fierce competitive edge and love for everything glitz and glamour from them!

We’ve watched Logo TVs RuPaul’s Drag Race every season, every episode and I could name every drag queen that was on it. I’m cute like that. Sorryboutit. When I started my blog I knew I’d love to have privileged access to gay culture’s hottest celebrities and be able to ask them the questions no one else was asking. I’m not afraid of getting in there and asking the Tea. Well, through trust and a well-written word, gay celebrities and edgy reality stars do trust me and realize that just a few minutes of their time can create tons of traffic and attention to their brand and name. Detox is my next victim for Tea pouring and I worship her!

Detox Drag Queen

She was the first one to walk into the workroom on RDR and was one of the last standing. Detox turned challenges out, stood tall and proud of who she was, and impressed me and many greatly. Here she shares what RuPaul is really like, who left the show before their time and what she’d do differently. She’s outspoken, opinionated and brutally honest. She is Detox.

Steven Michael - Where and How was Detox created?

Detox – “She came about primarily to sneak in to clubs at an early age. Originally she was also called Dita but I liked to drink and fall too much so it turned into Detox!”

I LIVE! I was also in the clubs at an early age. Shady us. Biggest misconception about filming Reality TV? About RuPaul? About doing drag as a living?

“That nothing is real and what genuinely occurs will be stretched, pulled, and worked over more than my face. Ru is amazing but when the cameras are on she gets right in to that character and is in work mode. I really appreciate that. As far as drag as a living it’s different for everyone. I feel so blessed that I’m an artist who is able to fully support myself by doing art in which I love so much. It’s truly a blessing… People would kill to have that.”

Detox Drag Queen

Honey, they have killed before. We’ve all heard of those old school Miami queens who would put ground glass in other’s setting powder back in the day. Ouch! I love what you said about RuPaul. I’ve heard that he is all business. I can appreciate that, too. Ru is a very busy man. What did you miss most about being away cut off from the world while filming?

“Booze.”

You poor dear. Well, we were having a drink for you here at home. No Tea. Now, about your creativity being off the charts! Your grayscale imagery at the reunion was everything and more. How long did it take to create the look and what made you decide to do that look for the evening?

“It was about 3 hours or so and I had a ton of help from my airbrush artist Nelly Recchia. As soon as I got the (untimely) boot I knew I wanted to do that look. It was a pain in the ass to make it come to life but so worth it. I may not have won the crown but goddamnit I won the reunion!”

Detox Drag Queen

(snaps) Bitch you sure the hell did. Did you go into Drag Race with the intent on forming a strong alliance like you and RoLaskaTox did?

“Not at all… We also never looked at it that way. I’ve been friends with Roxxxy and Alaska separately for years and we all bonded. It was just something silly. It never even dawned on us that the other girls felt that way.” (laughing)

What did you find as the hardest challenge all season of RDR?

“The hardest one to me was the Telenovela challenge. The mini-challenge opened up a ton of unhealed wounds that I couldn’t shake off for the rest of the competition.”

And speaking of the word “All,” if anyone should be in RDR: All Stars it’s thou, my sweet. Would you do anything different if you had another time around?

“I’d ask them what role they want me to play this time instead of editing the shit outta me!”

Girl, tell your tale. SHWERQ, Hunty. You auditioned for RDR before. How many times and what do you think was the deciding factor in this audition tape?

“3 times total. 1st, 3rd, and 5th seasons. I think that they have a plan and strategy for their mix of contestants. They just had to wait to find the right dynamic to fit us all in to. Plus my career has just gone up and up since auditioning first and I think it was the right time.”

Detox

I do believe everything has its time. Hard to see that sometimes, though. Ever dive into the pageant world? Why or why not?

“When I first started, yes. I also competed in California EOY. I love the pageant world… I’m just not able to really see myself conforming to fit in certain boxes.”

Yes, I was there that night at House of Blues. Damn that was a long night. I can appreciate all the work you’ve had done creating the image of Detox. You look amaze. Ever contemplate becoming transsexual?

“I used to tinker with the tought of ‘maybe I’m transsexual.’ But I really feel more comfortable with being this outspoken genderfuck. I have so many friends in all aspects of the Trans community and I figured it’d be a slap in their faces just for me to transition in order to throw my tits around.” (laughs)

RuPaul's Reunion Detox Grayscale

BE YOU! For reals. I tried for years to figure out where my place was and became wise enough to know it’s exactly where I am at any given moment. I’m me and the mold that made me was quite unique. Even though you and I haven’t met officially I feel we have a kindred spirt like that. Tell us your special gem of living in l.A. Where’s the one place you couldn’t live without or hotspot that is a must-do for anyone? I loved living there!

“I love everything about L.A. For visitors, make sure you peep the Getty Museums and the Griffith Park Observatory. For cross dressing needs, go see Miss Ellen at Hollywood Wigs, Wasteland, and Namie’s Cosmetics!”

Julie the Cruise Director, back. I worship! Girls, grab your lipliners and take that down! Inspirations… Which Person and What Place inspires you?

“Madonna, Amanda Lepore, and Thierry Mugler. My sister is prolly my biggest inspiration! I always get inspired in NYC.”

I have fierce stories about two of them I could tell you over an ‘ole cocktail sometime. Raincheck, sister. Trust. You lived on Florida, no? What brought you to the West Coast?

“After ending a relationship I decided to venture west to help my sister take care of her daughter while she finished law school. I had planned on not doing drag but I did 2 shows and blew up. After years of trying to make it in drag in Florida it was amazing to literally land in L.A .and take off in such a huge way.”

You better live your Hollywood dream. Can you share some of the doors that have opened for you since the show has aired? It really was the best season so far. Strongest competitors, overall.

“It’s hard to say really. The doors that have been open to me for a while as far as mainstream outlets have been incredible but it’s the back doors throughout the rest of the country that have opened I love. Meaning that even though I was ‘something’ before Drag Race, I’m now ‘something’ to those who weren’t followers or aware of the drag community. I love being able to meet all of my supporters.”

Detox Drag Queen

Nice! I love saying “Officially.” Of course, courtesy of you. Does it amaze you the way fans and viewers pick up on things and run w it? We loved Alaska’s “Hiiigheee.” Latrice’s “Eat it.”

“Well Alaska’s is originally from Coco and Isis in England who make the best recap vids! It cracks me up. Loosky always teases me and says “I’ve had it. EFFICIENTLY!” (laughs)

I’ll have to check them out. The queens that do the Barbie Doll ones are a riot. I squeal. How was it watching yourself on television? Anything you wished you hadn’t done or said?

“Not at all. There are things I wish would have been shown in a truer light… But I don’t get to sit in on the editing process nor call them out on their shit.” (*Side Eye*)

Hmmm. I get you, gal. Were you officially over it w the whole Alyssa/Coco battle? They played that to the very hilt. Made for great TV.

“Completely. I thought it was quite contrived and was even more irritated that producers played in to the gimmick.”

They sure did. Down. Who surprised you from meeting in the beginning toward the end? Anyone change your perception of them?

“Nope.”

Anyone you think left the competition before their time was actually up?

“I’d say Lineysha (even though I sent her home) or Ivy. But most definitely Penny. She got the shit-end of the stick.”

Willam, Detox, Vicki

How and when did the Willam/Vicky Vox/Detox trio form and begin?

“With Vicky, we were in a band together prior to doing our own thing. Willam and I met practically when I first moved to Cali and then I kidnapped Vicky after she auditioned for a spot in my show.”

And finally, (very Barbra Walters of me) Who is Detox?

“A fan of foreskin and a fashionista. A foreskinista!”

Best way for people to reach you and come give you money?

“Good Lord… I barely know where I am these days. Check www.facebook.com/theonlydetox for tour dates.”

Drag Race’s Penny Tration – The Interview

Penny Tration

I first chatted with drag diva Penny Tration about doing an interview on Twitter when she was heavy into her campaign to be voted onto RuPaul’s Drag Race last season. Of all the girls she definitely fired her publicity guns at anyone in range more than most from what I could tell. It paid off! Penny made it to L.A. being cast in the highly competitive season 5. I wanted to chat with her then but being a good Doll, she declined. Contracts and confidentiality clauses, you know! Yes, I understood.

When I got back together with Madame Tration about doing the interview she was right on it. I still wanted to know what it was like from her angle, from her eyes. She tells it like it is from the true reality of filming reality TV to who she’d play in the Snatch Game. Enjoy the fierce read and thanks to Penny Tration for her candor, wit and candidness.

Steven Michael –  Tell us a bit about Penny Tration and where you’re from, where you started drag and who is/was your inspiration?

Penny Tration – “It all started a long time ago in a land far far away… (laughs) I was a little gay at the local dance club about 20 years ago and saw Hurricane Summers perform. I barged into the dressing room after the show (not knowing any better) and the rest is kinda history. I was HOOKED for sure. I would say my biggest inspirations are Divine and Mr. Charlie Brown.”

Ah, I just saw Charlie Brown in Atlanta at Ashley Kruiz’s life celebration. It was great seeing Charlie. She looked great. And of course Hurricane is crazy. I’ll see her next month at Mr. EOY (I’m competing.) Where are you today in your current state of drag?

“Hmmm… Some days it seems like I’ve peaked and other days like I’ve just started. I feel that I’m at the top of my game in the emcee area and the drag itself is just a constant evolution.”

Penny Tration

What’s happening with your career since RuPaul’s Drag Race?

“RuPaul’s Drag Race has certainly introduced us all to a wider audience and it’s been great for our shop.”

Can you share in your own words how it felt to be brought into the cast by the popular vote only to be eliminated first?

“Gosh. The real challenge is getting on the show. Once you’re there the place that you get eliminated is irrelevant. Only one person wins – everyone else gets to go home.”

Penny Tration

The experience is so amazing for you entertainers. It a priceless experience wherever you place. What challenge would you have rocked in?

“The Reading Challenge and The Snatch Game, though I’m not sure I could have topped what Jinkx did on The Snatch Game (because it was GENIUS!) I’m sure I would have done well. And the Reading Challenge is just my biggest strength – not so much reading, but as an emcee, you have to be great on the fly with funny/witty commentary on just about any topic.”

Jinkx WAS completely brilliant, that is the truth. On the subject, who would have you been for Snatch Game?

“Paula Dean.” (smiles)

Penny Tration

We’re you in agreement with the winner? If no, who did you see winning?

“I think they should have had a top 4. Detox should have been in that list of gurls eligible to win. But they are all stars in my eyes… even Serena.” (wink)

Detox turned it repeatedly. Especially at the reunion with the grayscale. Would you do RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars if they asked, or have they already?

(laughs) “I can neither confirm nor deny my appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars - Season 2.”

Penny Tration

I know you are in some sort of confidentiality agreement with World of Wonder but what can you share about the whole process of getting on set, meeting the other girls, working with RuPaul?

“Drag is, overall, a small community. All of the ‘seasoned’ gurls and I have previously had some sort of contact or ‘talked’ on Facebook and Twitter – so it was pretty surreal to meet everyone. It was all very exciting and probably the best part of the show for me.”

Did you know any of the other Dolls before the show? And have you made friends with anyone you still keep in touch with?

“Detox and I were fast friends and I feel like I made a dear friend for life. Feels like a sister that I’ve always known and hope to never be parted from. Roxxxy and I are perfect team-members/co-workers. We both know how to get our job done and seem to work well together. I guess I could say that about a lot of the gurls, to be honest. Most of them were obvious professionals and know how to do their job. Honey Mahogany is a doll!”

Biggest Misconceptions about Penny Tration? About filming Reality TV? About Drag?

“Gosh -Biggest misconception about Penny Tration… That I’m quiet. Everyone asked me why I didnt talk on the show. I was like, bitch I barely shut up (except when I was trying to put that ugly purple dress together!) (laughs) Again, editing is AMAZING! About Filming… I dont think anyone has a concept of how long it takes to make an hour of television. On Drag… The age old ‘most drag queens want to be women’ and though there are plenty of folks who do transition, most dudes who identify as drag queens are just that – dudes. And good for us for doing our jobs so well that the audience leaves having totally bought into the d-illusion.” (wink)

If you could be paired up with anyone from precious seasons or even your season, who would you do well with as a team?

“Detox or Nina Flowers – Those would be my top picks!”

What’s your downtime like and what/where are you?

“Working on my house with my husband. Even as show-people (he’s an opera singer) we still keep a pretty normal life in the garden and renovating our little home. Two Beagles, Fred and Ginger, keep us company.”

That sounds very similar to our sanctuary of home life. And finally… (completely joking of course, no Tea!) Who would you rather? Sleep With… Marry… Kill…? Alaska, Jinkx, Roxxxy? (laughing)

“Not sleeping or killing anyone – too much love. I would marry them all if I weren’t already otherwise obligated!” (wink)

Big hugs and great thanks to Penny Tration. Find her terrorizing unsuspecting crowds at The Cabaret in Cincinnati, Ohio and follow her antics on the website Miss Penny Tration. For bookings, please contact Outloud Talent Management Agency. SHWERQ! ♥