Get To Know Sharon Needles, The Most Marvelously Terrifying Queen Of RuPaul's Drag Race
The Debrief: Remember the 'RuPocalypse Now!' episode and the spoiled bed sheet outfit...?
While we live for the sheer sass-filled spectacal and meme-worthy antics that go down on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the show is, at the end of the day, a competition. And at the end of each season when someone is eventually crowned drag royalty, we’re right there with them holding back the happy tears.
But seasons come and seasons go, and even for the most dedicated of RuPaul fans will admit that it’s easy for past winners (and losers) to quickly fall from memory. But there’s one winner who is impossible to forget. The name Sharon Needles rings bells for a reason, and that's because she is an absolute badass. Season 5 winner, Queen of Drag Race, and all around fabulous, slightly scary human being. Don’t believe us? Here’s your need to know.
So, what does Sharon Needles’ name mean?
Yes, the name ‘Sharon Needles’ is a play on ‘sharin’ needles’ - it’s your first clue to her macabre sense of humour. Needles, whose birth name is Aaron Coady and is from Iowa, has made her mark as the horror genre queen. Her style is terrifying but as RuPaul would say, consistently ‘eleganza extravaganza’, always with exaggerated lips, white or neon-coloured contact lenses, and some form of a sexed up slasher film villain or zombie.
One of her most memorable moments from the series was during the first episode where they had a challenge called ‘RuPocalypse Now!’. The queens had to create post-apocalyptic couture outfits with whatever props and materials they managed to bag from the drag zombies. Needles won with an outfit made from spoiled sheets (ew, but also, why can’t we ever be that creative) and fake blood pouring from her mouth.
Why is Sharon so gory?
Needles is a massive horror film fan, which she thanks being a child of the 80s for. In an interview with the British Film Institute, she said that her love for horror films was a form of 'escapism', a chance to get away from real-life bullies. She particularly loves revenge films, and her favourite is Sleepaway Camp 2 (1983) which is about a transgender teenager girl named Angela who gets bloody revenge on other campers who mock and bully her.
Needles’ other favourites include The Return of the Living Dead (1985) for zombie films, and Freddy Krueger as best horror villain. She told BFI: 'A lot of people call horror movies ‘campy’, and I can certainly see why they think that they are, but being a product of the 80s, I didn’t notice that they were campy - I came from a campy generation. I mean, Ronald Reagan is campy.
'But I don’t think they're campy… I think that the attraction to camp is its irreverence, it’s strange, it in no way reflects reality while using real characters. Campy films almost create real-life cartoon'.
Was Sharon Needles dating other RuPaul drag queen?
Yup, Needles was dating Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 (birth name Justin Honard) for four years. The couple were hailed as drag royalty during their time together, but they split up in 2013. Needles said in a statement: 'Due to the severe change in not only mine but Alaska’s life, the survival of our partnership relies on simply changing the word "boy" in "boyfriend" to "best". And because of my severe vanity, I’d like to keep my social media as a place dedicated to my art and not a place to talk about my personal life.
'RuPaul once said that people come into our lives for different reasons for different intervals of time. I will treasure the four years we had together.'
Why did Sharon Needles and Alaska Thunderfuck break up?
There was some controversy around the breakup when Alaska reportedly compared the end of their relationship to the fight that ended Tina Turner’s relationship with Ike Turner. The Turners’ fight resulted in Tina running away from the hotel they had both been physically fighting in, and then hiding in a different hotel and several friend’s homes in the following days.
So it came as no surprise that Alaska’s comparison sparked huge concern among the community that she had been abused by Needles - but Alaska clarified the details in a podcast titled ‘Feast of Fun’, saying: 'I hope I didn’t make it sound like Sharon beat the shit out of me because that’s not what happened.
'We got in a fight together, it got physical, but it wasn’t an abuse thing. It was two men who had had way too much to drink and so we got in a fight'.
At the moment though, Needles is dating Chad O’Connell, a wax figure and special effects artist from Pittsburgh.
What was the Kathy Griffin/Donald Trump drama?
Her latest controversial act was in June, just after American comic Kathy Griffin posted an image of herself holding up the severed ‘head’ (it was a mask) of US President Donald Trump. The image gained Griffin plenty of backlash, and she eventually apologised. However, this was obviously ripe content for Needles, who relishes a bit of controversy and loves stirring the pot - so, she recreated the whole thing by putting on her best Kathy Griffins outfit, bloodied up a mask of Owen Wilson she had 'lying around her house of horrors' and went to the P Town Bar in Pittsburgh to perform the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Heads Will Roll’.
She spoke about her love for the drama on an episode of ‘RuPaul Drives…’ and said: 'Sometimes I’m not even really quite sure why I do what I do - do I do it because I like to show that I’m an educated person to exploit these certain things artistically and, in my opinion, in a very smart way - or am I just a punk rock brat that likes pushing people’s buttons and relishing in the negative reaction? I can’t tell.'
Doesn't Sharon make music too? She must be worth a lot?
Cheeky question, but we feel your curiosity. Needles’ net worth is about US$2.2 million. Casual. Apart from being fabulously scary, Needles work also encompasses the acting and music industry. She’s had two studio albums, PG-13 in 2013, and Taxidermy in 2015. PG-13 made it to number 186 on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold 3,000 copies in its first week.
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