Sharon Needles Shares Your Holiday Pain
These Christmas Queens have just the shot you need.
The holidays are about a lot of different things for a lot of different people–buying presents, getting presents, family or something. All that’s really cute and stuff, but we’ve got a dose of holiday cheer that’ll keep you caroling well into the New Year and beyond. Remember when the contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race released last year’s iconic Christmas album, “Christmas Queens”? Well, hold onto your reindeer, because Santa came THRU. Christmas Queens 2 is here, and this is one “party you don’t wanna be tardy” for. We caught up with Sharon Needles, recording artist and winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4, to get her thoughts on the Christmas Queens sequel, political revolutions, and basically whatever else she wanted to talk about.
What do you want people to take away from Christmas Queens 2?
NOTHING. There are all sorts of drag queens, some just want to emulate the Western construct of male-applied beauty necessity, some queens just want to be funny, some just want to be controversial, some just want to be a fashion template. We are all independent artists, we all do it on a daily basis, and that’s not what Christmas Queens is about. It’s about creating an album that allows people to celebrate a necessary holiday. Whether you’re religious or not, Christmas is comin’ for you. It gives you a way to celebrate in a way that’s fun and cheesy and campy. For a lot of the serious artists, this is a great way to let their hair down and have a great time. It’s stupid. Christmas Queens is stupid, and I know that the people backing this record will not be offended by this because Christmas is stupid. The buying, the presents, the consumerism of it is stupid. At the end of the day, if you can spend a good time with your friends family–especially with chosen families–while you’re enjoying our records, Christmas Queens is good.
For those who don’t know, elaborate a bit on chosen families.
RuPaul always says, “You’re born with a family, but then you chose a family.” With gay people, that’s very true. I’m sure it’s changing every day because families are becoming more accepting, but for the old queens, whose only family on Christmas Day are their good ol’ Judys and their best Marys, our record probably makes it a lot of fun for them. You can skip all that other music.
Are you performing again tonight?
I wasn’t going to, but I’m bored. I might do Dead Dandelion–it’s a favorite between me and my guitarist. It was never a single off of my last record, but the great thing about Taxidermy was the involvement from the fans. Usually, you put out a record and whatever singles you put out have the high sales. With this last album, I was pressured to put more Sharon-branded songs as singles, but my fanbase really loves to dive into the psyche of who they think I am, which may be even more than what I think I am. They responded to the songs that meant so much more to me. Sometimes you don’t have to push a song, they can just feel it and smell it. Which is funny because dandelions don’t have a smell; they aren’t even a flower. They’re a weed, and they’re my favorite flower in the whole world.
Are dandelions the puff balls or the yellow ones?
Dandelions are little yellow weeds, and when they die, they become perfect puff balls. When we were kids, we would use the live dandelions as make-up because you could get the yellow pigment out of them. Nothing says contouring like a high yellow. It’s organic.
D.I.Y. contour is pretty boss. What was your most recent #GIRLBOSS moment?
Well, it’s between two. Either firing my assistant after realizing they extorted thousands and thousands of dollars out of me orrrrr signing the papers to get my new veneers. I’m very scared of the dentist, but I love trading in veneers the way people trade in Porsches.
What’s the most surprising part of your beauty regimen?
These questions are terrible. Okay, I’ll share a story with you. I’m with some of the most recognized faces in the drag world and they HATE getting ready. They’ll put it off until the very last second. I start getting ready, every show, at LEAST three and a half hours before opening. They always say, “Sharon, why are you getting ready so early?,” but I love the process of transforming. It’s the most calming “just me” moment of my day and I like to take my sweet ass time with it. Katya, she’ll nap thirty minutes before the curtain, but I need that three and a half hours.
It’s like therapy?
No, it’s mind-erasing. It doesn’t soothe my mind; it makes it disappear. It’s like sleeping:I’m not thinking about anything but the mathematics and the artistic placement of make-up and hair and glues and corsets. I have a racing mind; I think that a lot of drag queens tend to have that. We were never designed to be celebrities, so we have to mix something that is midnight Vaudeville theatre done in smokey bars for drunk people with performing to 3000 people a night. That’s why I look so damn good, ’cause I take so much time.
What’s the most surprising part of another queen’s beauty regimen?
Back shaving. Some queens have hair sprout in the weirdest places and watching some of my sisters have to not just shave their legs and face and armpits but to have to ask assistance on tour to shave their backs, I… First of all, it takes a lot of guts ’cause you’re compromising your own ego to ask, “Hey, can you shave my back?” BUT. They all seem to have a sense of owning it, which I think is cool. I would probably take a broom and a roll of duct tape and apply a Gillette Mach 3 onto it and somehow figure it out. Or just do a couple gigs and get the fuckin’ thing lasered.
Lastly, going into 2017, what’re the most important things for our communities to be doing right now?
Now, I can only speak for the drag community here–I am slightly older than the youngsters but younger than my fore-Mary’s, and what I’ve learned from both is that great art and great internal community conversations happen more severely when we have negative political powers against us. We had eight years of Obama, and when that happened in my late 20’s, that was something that made me cry and get so excited for the world’s future. For the younger generation who grew up with Drag Race and Obama, they got “on fleek” and “oh my god you’re not using this designer highlighter.” Bullying was allowed to happen internally because there was no external force trying to rattle their lives.
You sound pretty optimistic.
If you look at the Nixon era, you had these great moments like the punk and glam rock eras. The Reagan era, we were dealing with the AIDS epidemic and got people in the pop world like Boy George and Pete Burns. Then we get a Clinton era and all we get is flannel, denim, everyone kind of yawns. When you get the politics you want, the power to fight for your rights tends to take a backseat because you get kind of lazy. So I’m excited about the future; I’m not afraid of Trump’s election because I think this is a great time for millennials who’ve spent their time watching make-up tutorials and making sure their matte liquid lipstick isn’t a knockoff from Santee Alley, who think a true drag queen can only exist on RuPaul’s Drag Race or who just think that the world is gonna be handed to them on a silver platter that they can use to apply their contour–they’re going to realize that there’s something punk about being the minority, and it makes you more powerful or at least less boring.
We also got Sharon’s quick thoughts on…
Finding your light in a picture: I always take the picture. The botox tends to fall on one side of your face first.
Whiskey: After a few of these, I don’t like any word with more than three syllables. You ever get afraid of a bottle of whiskey? Whiskey’s one of those things that, once you learn its notes, other whiskeys are like, BLEGH. Not just when it’s cheap, but even if it’s too fancy, like when you’re at a rich person’s house and they’re like, “Try this 1948 whiskey,” and it tastes like taking a shot of fuckin’ white diamonds.
Designer threads: You really can’t tell anymore. I’m wearing Santee Alley, can you believe it? I feel like Caitlyn Jenner. Knockoffs are gettin’ good, at least until you wear them and realize they just only did every third stitch.
And our questions: I already told you, your questions were terrible.
This Saturday, join us on Snapchat while we take you behind-the-scenes at Club Nokia’s The Novo for Christmas Queens 2, a live stage showcase of original and classic holiday songs performed by your favorite drag queens from the small screen and beyond. And if you wanna hang out with us, get your tickets to the show here. For our Midwestern gals, tickets are still on sale for tonight’s show in Chicago, IL, so head on over and get that snow machine running.