Why Merle Ginsberg Left RuPaul’s Drag Race, Where Is She Now?

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If you are a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and have been watching the contest since its inception, you are bound to have noticed the conspicuous absence of its original judge Merle Ginsberg who is now replaced by Michelle Visage. It is well understood that RuPaul and Visage have been working together for a long while and the latter is considered to be among his best friends. However, she was far from being the pop culture expert’s right-hand woman in the early days of the show.

Today, Michelle Visage is the one who sits by RuPaul in the lineup of judges, but she wasn’t always there. That particular sit was formerly occupied by Merle Ginsberg who is also a fashion writer. The fan-favorite series had Merle serving as one of its head judges for the first couple of seasons. Fans were already beginning to warm up to her affectionate nature and intelligent humor when the unexpected happened. As the third season was being ushered in, we saw Visage replace Merle without the benefit of an explanation. Thus, the question begging for explanation is, what prompted Merle’s sudden replacement, and what has the fashion model been doing since she last appeared as a judge on RPDR?

Profile summary of Merle Ginsberg
  • Name: Merle Ginsberg
  • Date of birth: NA
  • Place of birth: Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
  • Nationality: American
  • Education: NA
  • Parents: NA
  • Height: NA
  • Occupation: Writer, television personality, fashion expert
  • Years active: NA
  • Net worth: Under Review

The position beside RuPaul was always meant for Visage, not Merle

Merle Ginsberg

Merle Ginsberg and Michelle Visage image source

Before Visage came on board RuPaul’s Drag Race and began working as a head judge, that particular title was held by award-winning media personality and journalist, Merle Ginsberg. The first and second seasons of the show saw Merle work alongside Santino Ricen in Mama Ru’s competition series (an Emmy-winning TV series). In the course of her job on the panel of judges, Ginsberg earned the love and respect of fans, thanks to her sweet and caring disposition. While critiquing the queens, Merle would always try her best to understand where they were coming from which earned her the alias – Paula Abdul of the judge’s panel.

Despite bringing oodles of humor and tons of joy to the series, the people’s favorite judge failed to show up for the third season, and for quite a while; we couldn’t place our fingers on what went wrong. Even the series wasn’t ready to let on the real reason behind Merle Ginsberg’s disappearance as they preferred to poke fun at her absence with a cover-up story of how she was killed off by Visage in a bid to replace her.

When the truth eventually came to the fore, it turned out that the real reason Merle Ginsberg left RuPaul’s Drag Race was that her position as a judge on the panel was never meant to be permanent. Rather, that position was originally for Visage as she has been with RuPaul for several years, both on The RuPaul Show and other radio stations. However, Visage had some little delay in occupying her spot as she was still with a CBS radio serving a five-year contract.

Thus, the media personality had to miss the opportunity to take her place alongside RuPaul for the first and second seasons of RPDR. Subsequently, she came in to claim her rightful place as a permanent judge in the show’s third season upon fulfilling the terms of her contract with CBS. Visage has been part of the series ever since, critiquing queens both during the regular seasons and its All-Star seasons.

What is Merle Ginsberg up to today?

Upon relinquishing her position on RPDR to Visage, Merle moved on with her career, appearing in a good number of TV shows as she continues to discharge her duties as a journalist. As the years roll by, the fashion writer has penned so many fashion pieces for top-notch magazines. Notable tabloids she has worked for are Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Wear Daily, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, and a whole lot more. She occupies a permanent position at Hollywood Reporter Magazine in her capacity as the publication’s Senior Fashion Writer. Merle Ginsberg is equally engaged with the website known as as its editor-in-chief and has made appearances on a plethora of TV shows.

Even after her place on RuPaul’s Drag Race was taken over by Visage, Merle has returned on the Ru Hollywood Stories episode of the seventh season of RPDR as a guest judge. While her appearance was just brief, fans really appreciated seeing the journalist back and sitting next to the pop culture expert on the judge’s panel. Besides, it may just be a prelude to her return as a guest judge in the ensuing seasons since she is well-versed in the act of criticizing drag queens.

A detailed look at Merle Ginsberg’s biography

Merle Ginsberg was born on the 1st of January 1953 and hails from Atlantic City, New Jersey. A journalist, media personality, reality television host, fashion writer, blogger, and author, Merle Ginsberg is a current resident of Los Angeles. Armed with a degree in Literature and Theatre, the New York Times bestselling author commenced her career at the Village Voice in New York.

Not much has been shared about her early life or the family she hails from. Despite the lack of information about her background, Merle’s career exploits speak for themselves and they have made her a mainstay in the entertainment industry.

Merle Ginsberg has worked with A-list publications

Merle made stops at Rolling Stone and MTV before relocating to Los Angeles to start writing for A-list publications like People, LA Times, US, and W Magazine. For 12 long years, Merle presided over the West Coast bureau for Women’s Wear Daily. She also contributed quality content to the likes of Jane and Details, as well as LA Magazine.

In 2003, Merle Ginsberg began working with Harper’s Bazaar as its bicoastal writer cum editor and takes the credit for having several top celebrities on interview sessions. Merle has interviewed the likes of Madonna, Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Jane, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, and many others, including designers and authors. The writer published a New York Times bestselling book for Simon and Schuster in 2005. She went back to LA in 2007 to do freelance work on fashion personalities for NY Times T, Cosmo, Marie Claire, international Hearst magazines, and Glamour.

Read Also: Facts That Prove Jackie Debatin Is More Than An Actress

Merle Ginsberg’s works from 2010 to date

The year 2010 was when she started working with The Hollywood Reporter as its Senior Style Writer, creating the publication’s intellectual fashion coverage. There, Merle also took coverage of a multitude of cultures, serious or whimsical or a combination of both. She started another round of freelancing work in 2016 and within a couple of years, has written quality content for Esquire China, Vogue Russia, Daily Beast, NY Post,, Alexa Magazine/NY Post, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and more.

Merle Ginsberg has worked on a good number of book projects, appearing on The Today Show, the BBC, GMA, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, CNN, and CNN International as an entertainment/fashion expert. Her works as a media personality include appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race as a judge for the first and second seasons and on Launch My Line – a Bravo TV show where she came in as a star. Currently, Merle is a contributor to Meet the Entertainment Press – a digital show, and Good Day L.A on Fox TV.

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