By Sunny Clark, PQ Monthly
Sharon Needles wears her RuPaul’s Drag Race crown with pride, and admits her “life has become ridiculous since the crowning. I’m zipping to every city in America and fitting in photo ops and interviews. I’m trying to meet every fan I can. It’s definitely a nightmare come true!”
Interviewed from her Pittsburgh, Penn., home, where she is “loving being back with my drag family, Haus of Haunt,” Needles is also eager to resume touring, particularly for her upcoming visit to the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve never been, and I’ve always been interested in Portland,” she says. “It’s like a sister city to Pittsburg.”
The reigning Queen of Queens dubs Portland “a mecca for artists, writers, and freaks in general. We lose a lot of kids to Portland.”
“[I’m] looking forward to meeting the artistic individuals of Portland, and sampling the granola [and] the marijuana. And I’m so glad everyone can attend,” she needles, “because no one there has jobs!”
What should fans and the curious expect from her Portland performance? “My show embodies my tag lines: beautiful, spooky and stupid!” she says. “I want to bring the punk rock back to drag. Hopefully, my crowning can help that. The world needs it; these underground punk messy queens are in every city.”
Referring to Portland’s own Burlesquire and one of its principal dancers, Isaiah Tillman, Needles says, “I’m excited to work with artists like male burlesque dancers who are pushing the boundaries. You don’t see a lot of big African Americans in burlesque. It’s exciting.”
Asked about accusations of racism and the controversy surrounding her impersonation of RuPaul at a club in Oklahoma City in April, she remains defiant. “Sharon Needles has always been a controversial character designed to create controversy,” she says. “… We’re clowns of controversy!”
Needles considers the backlash to be undeserved hater hype. “There’s a huge difference between impersonating a black person and wearing blackface,” she says. “No one seems upset that RuPaul impersonates a blond, rich, white lady.”
Now that Needles is herself a “blond, rich, white lady,” she is preparing to meet an adoring public during her upcoming tour. “I throw a wig in a bag, hop on my broom, and wait for my manager to whisk me away!”
Sharon Needles performs at Red Cap Garage’s annual Block Party on June 17, also featuring Frenchie Davis, Burlesquire, Peep Show, and a pride of local talent. Visit redcapgarage.com for more information.