Logo’s reality indulgence RuPaul’s Drag Race has enjoyed its fair share of intriguing contestants in previous seasons: Glittery gals from BeBe Zahara Benet to Pandora Boxx to Shangela — who reappeared on screen last night, albeit briefly, as a semi-annoying gag — are memorable queens who’ve been of high interest in the past. But apparently the best queen was to come, and she appeared last night in the show’s season 4 premiere: Sharon Needles.
Yes, you read that right: Sharon Needles. Read that name again. And again. Linger over it. And now say it out loud… a little bit faster. Let it wash over you. It’s genius, right?
And just look at Needles here: Have you ever seen a drag queen like her before? She was — in a word — simply divine. For the way she described herself: “Beautiful, spooky, and stupid,” she said in her first interview. For how she whirled onto the show: “I look spooky, but I’m really nice… at least for now,” she promised the other queens while arriving in the workroom wearing a hat fit for the Wicked Witch of the West. For how she reacted when the guest judge was announced: Sharon Needles went into near-hysterics when told that fellow spook-master Elvira would appear on the judging panel alongside RuPaul, Santino Rice, and Michelle Visage.
Now, I wish that the photo here — this is just her standard gallery shot, unfortunately — reflected the gal’s ghastly runway look last night, but never before have I seen a drag queen look so dead. Deliciously dead? Dumpily dead? Disgustingly dead? Honestly, all of the above — pleaseandthankyou. I’m clearly not the only one who felt this way, considering that — SPOILER ALERT — the macabre-focused queen took home the glory last night by winning the RuPocalypse-themed challenge on the main stage.
To be fair to all the gals we met last night and not only obsess over Ms. Needles, there were many queens worth loving (and at least one worth hating): LaShauwn Beyond, the self-described “main attraction for the circus,” seems shy but amazingly starry-eyed and inventive; Phi Phi O’Hara seems like a bitch who I can get behind, mostly because she already seems to hate the uber-nasty Willam, who I enjoyed for all of about two of her barbed comments; Milan came off beautifully as a fiercely fabulous Broadway queen, a type of player we haven’t seen thus far on Drag Race; Jiggly delights simply because of her name and, okay, for saying that she had “swagger for your nerve”; Madame LaQueer and Kenya Michaels seemed to represent the show’s legacy of Puerto Rican queens with a healthy dose of panache; Dida Ritz is interesting for her seriously awful weaves and those thighs; The Princess seems nice but rather uninteresting so far; Latrice Royale warms my heart for being the biggest queen with the best laugh ever; and Chad Michaels succeeds for one huge reason: that Cher impression.
Alisa Summers wins — err, bad word choice there — for that breast plate fascination, despite being told to “sashay away.” RIP, lady. Never has a lip-synching rendition of “Toxic” been so… boring. Truly, Jiggly will provide more moments over this season than Alisa ever would have.
But again, no one served more than Sharon Needles from Pittsburgh. Her runway walk, complete with pocked sores on her face and creepily flailing arms and blood spilling from her mouth was — in the apparent catchphrase of the season — totally “sickening.” “Coming down the runway,” she said of her time in front of the judges, “the best part was slowly letting out a giant mouthful of fake blood all over my body, and that’s when I really saw Ru’s eyebrow raise.” The show’s hostess commented at the time: “It’s a disco bloodbath!” And Needles followed that up by telling the judges’ panel later, “Oh, I felt drop-dead gorgeous!” Sharon, more like drop-dead genius.
Let’s continue the Sharon obsession here! Last week, I hosted the pink carpet of the Drag Race premiere party and talked with Sharon for a few minutes. Check out my hilarious chat — she talks about rigor mortis, making Halloween a national holiday, and 666 — with her here:
My one concern about Sharon Needles is one that everyone probably has: Is she a one-note queen? I’m wondering whether she can serve up more than just spookiness. Hopefully, there’s a way she can just infect everything she does with her deathly ways but make it feel fresh and new through every challenge. Dead prom queen? Disco queen eaten alive? Homage to Carrie? I’ll be trés disappointed if she becomes tired in week two and fizzles out.
Seeing as how we’ve got many weeks to go to discuss other contestants and their tragic personal stories — which we got a taste of last night — I’ll leave this week’s post simply as a love letter to Sharon Needles. Expect one big query each week. But there is much else to discuss: Do you think that Sharon is the show’s most “sickening” contestant ever? Who’s your favorite? What’s your favorite catchphrase? Who did you love? Who did you hate? Sound off with any and all thoughts below!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky