Michelle Visage Speaks Out on 'Drag Race Down Under' Queen's Blackface, Brownface Photos

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday May 3, 2021

Scarlet Adams
Scarlet Adams  (Source:WOW)

Old photos of a cast member for the new "Drag Race" spinoff, "RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under," show Australian drag performer Scarlet Adams in blackface and brownface. The pics prompted one of the show's judges, Michelle Visage, to comment, Digital Spy reports.

Digital Spy recounted that after the show's lineup of contestants was announced, "fans started sharing some pictures of Adams' old performances, which saw her in black and brown face, as well as culturally insensitive costumes."

Visage talked about the controversy, telling the press that she didn't have firsthand knowledge of the photos, but Adam had "apologized and that's it," Digital Spy reported.

Saying that "apologies were made, apologies were necessary," Visage went on to tell the press, "you have to think about why you do things and what you do, and I think it's important for people to take responsibility."

Visage noted that in the Internet age, "every employer does what they can do to dig stuff up on you," and added that, "one person just has to drop that little gem they've been holding onto. Everything could be taken away from you."

Adams had apologized for the photos last year, Digital Spy recalled, describing the offending images as "one of Scarlet in brown make-up and blacked-out teeth wearing a T-shirt with the Australian Aboriginal flag, one of the performer dressed up as a geisha, one of her in deep brown/black make-up and one of her wearing a Native-American headdress."

"Adams had previously apologized for the routines, saying in June 2020 that she was ashamed," noted New Zealand news site Stuff.

"However, given the claims had been levelled at her once again, she'd updated her original social media post with a '2021' segment," Stuff added.

"There is no way to sugarcoat it," Adams' post said, "when I was a teenager roughly eight years ago I performed in blackface/cultural appropriation. I was young and I was ignorant. I am no longer that person.

"For the hurt that I caused, I am sorry," the post continued. "I am sorry I used my platform in the past to do something that ridiculed people who have faced centuries of systematic racism. I am sorry for those who see those images and are hurt by it now."

The new series features RuPaul, and premiered May 2. In a review of the first episode, Vulture assessed Adams as follows: "Scarlet talks a big talk during her entrance and confessionals, but having started the show wrong-footed, it doesn't really feel like enough to stop her from seeming a little like a write-off."

Watch the show's trailer below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.