Supporting her sister! Drag queen extraordinaire Alexis Michelle opened up exclusively to Life & Style about fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Katya’s decision to press pause on her drag career to focus on her mental health and sobriety.
“I give Katya all my love and my fullest support on the endeavor because I’ve been in a similar pressure cooker. I won’t even claim to be in the same kind of pressure cooker that Katya’s been in because Katya is truly one of the most beloved queens from the series and her fan following and level of support is massive,” Alexis said. “So I won’t even claim to understand what pressures she’s under, but having some sense of it given my own experience, I can relate to how intense that can feel.”
The NYC-based entertainer continued, “Drag Race opens up an incredible world of opportunity, but it also has a real dark side to it and it’s not easy. We all cope in different ways. I can really relate to some of her issues and I’m highly, highly sympathetic to whatever challenges she’s been up against. And therefore, I’m so proud of her and I’m so supportive of her at this time. And I’m happy. I’m glad that she’s doing what she needs to do.”
Katya. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
As previously reported, Katya — who’s been open about her past struggles with substance abuse — told fans that she was leaving the world of drag in an Instagram live stream on Monday, Jan. 15. In the video, the performer insisted that she has not had a relapse. However, she was fearful that she might if she didn’t take a break.
“It was time to take a vacation, because my health, the drugs, my brain, that wasn’t good,” Katya said. “I’m telling you this with a sense of urgency. I’m not dying. Let me tell you the truth. I’m not dying, I want to live. I’m a drug addict, but I’m sober. Today, and yesterday. And before. But I need to take a vacation, because I want to survive, like Gloria Gaynor.”
Alexis can definitely understand the desire to disconnect. During her chat with Life & Style, the Season 9 contestant said that the one downside of post-Drag Race fame is the scrutiny she often faces on social media. “We all would like to say that we don’t seek validation from that. And I remember being given the advice from people, ‘Don’t read the comments.’ The way I put that into practice was I told myself that I wouldn’t read them too seriously and wouldn't look at them all the time. But what those people meant when they told me, ‘Don’t read the comments,’ they really meant don’t read the comments,” she said. “And I would give that advice to anybody who has any kind of heightened visibility on social media.”
Though online trolls’ comments — specifically, ones made about her weight — still sting every now and then, Alexis said RPDR judge Michelle Visage imparted some very sage wisdom that has helped her combat the cruel remarks. “Michelle is an amazing woman and a smart woman who’s really walked the walk in showbiz. And I said, 'I’m having a really hard time with the way people are reacting to [my weight],'” she recounted. “And Michelle was like, ‘You really have to detach from that and let it roll off your back because most of these people are young children sitting at home behind their screens and that’s the only muscle they have.’”
“I don’t even think it’s their true selves most of the time. I think it’s just a coping mechanism of their own to deal with angst or pain. And I trust that they’ll find their way out of that,” Alexis said, adding that she’s definitely made strides when it comes to her self-esteem. “I’ve made a huge effort not to put all of my self-worth in my weight and the way I look. Because it shouldn’t matter what size you are. Your self-worth should be separate than that, so that’s something I’m continuing to work on.”
Catch Alexis perform live at NYC’s Feinstein’s/54 Below in her show, Alexis Michelle: ALEXIS, I AM! — which you can get tickets to at 54Below.com. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 airs on VH1 Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST.