Michelle Visage ‘fought every day’ with Strictly’s Giovanni Pernice

Michelle Visage and her Strictly Come Dancing partner Giovanni Pernice. (BBC)

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Michelle Visage has revealed that she “fought every day” with professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice while the pair were competing on Strictly Come Dancing.

Visage – first and foremost known as RuPaul’s sharp-tongue and silver-haired right-hand woman on RuPaul’s Drag Race – memorably placed seventh on beloved BBC dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing in 2019, with Pernice as her pro partner.

The pair were eliminated after voguing to (shockingly) Vogue, by Madonna – but appearing on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday (6 February) opposite hosts Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary, Visage revealed that the pair were often at loggerheads due to Pernice’s coaching style.

Referencing Pernice’s alleged rift with his celebrity partner from 2023’s series, Amanda Abbington, Hammond asked what Pernice was like to work with, given reports that Abbington has been seeking legal advice following her time on the show.

“Uh oh. I don’t like gossip, so I’m not here to gossip, but what I can say from my experience was yes, he’s tough,” Visage confirmed.

Continuing, she added that she responded well to his teaching style, but understood that some others might not: “He’s probably the toughest pro there is. I wanted that. So it depends, some people can handle that, some people don’t want to handle that. I wanted that.

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“We fought every day, and it was for good reason because we got to where we wanted to be, we looked beautiful together.”

Speculation of a rift between Pernice and Abbington has been rift since the latter’s exit from the show “due to personal reasons” in October 2023.

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The Sherlock star was allegedly left “fuming” after not being given a spot on Strictly‘s Live Arena Tour, and she didn’t return for the all-cast season finale. Abbington also reportedly requested to access footage of her rehearsals with Pernice (via The Sun).

For his part, Pernice has thanked his fans for their support via a cryptic social media post after reports of Abbington’s rehearsal footage request emerged.

He wrote: “I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has sent message of support of the last week – I really truly appreciate it – thank you thank you thank you Gio,” via Instagram story in early January.

Abbington is not the first celeb to have encountered friction with Pernice. In 2018, former Love Island host Laura Whitmorem who partnered with Pernice for the 2016 edition of Strictly, wrote in the Huffington Post: “I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken.

“I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end.”

Elsewhere in the same interview, Visage, who recently unveiled a waxwork of RuPaul at Madame Tussauds in London, revealed that she only took part in Channel 4’s soon-to-be-rebooted Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 in an attempt to get Drag Race UK made.

“When I did Celebrity Big Brother back in 2015, the reason I did it was to get a UK version [of Drag Race] made. That was the only reason. I didn’t have any fake tan to sell, I didn’t have a calendar, a book, it was just me trying to get that show made,” she said.

“But it took four years from that for people to take it seriously. I knew in the end that it needed to be done because I saw the fanbase. I saw the love and the passion for the show. It brings love to so many people.”

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Drag Race UK vs The World begins at 9pm on BBC Three on Friday 9 February and will be available on iPlayer.

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