If you’ve ever wondered what the hell a drag queen haunted house would be like, just ask RuPaul’s queen of scream, Sharon Needles. “It’s every straight guy’s nightmare,” she says. Get ready: It’s coming to New York City this Halloween, in a weekend of events she’s hosting for party promoter Brandon Voss.
On Saturday, October 25, the ghoulish queen hosts the return of RuPaul's Drag Race Night of the Living Drag at Liberty Theater, and Needles has a secret to share about this year’s installment. “I’m known for being witty, funny, foul-mouthed, and dead, so it’s only appropriate that this year I come out of my coffin and host the show as the one and only Joan Rivers! I’ve been trying to keep that a secret, but it’s fine if a few people know.”
The following night marks the unveiling of Sharon Needle’s RuPaulsive Haunted Manor. According to Needles, “it has great sets, a lot of gore, and tons of fright, all coming from some very well known drag queens—some of my very favorites like Darienne Lake and Milk—crammed into my haunted manor. And it will all be narrated by me, a bipolar lobotomy nurse and doctor. It’s a biopic.”
The events will also feature RuPaul’s Drag Race favorites such as Courtney Act, Alaska Thunderfuck, BenDeLaCreme, Jujubee, Manilla Luzon, and Raven, but Needles is at the unholy helm. To get to know her better and to put us in the mood for the season, we asked her 13 spooktacular Hallow-Queen questions.
Out: When every day is Halloween, how do you make October 31 stand out?
Sharon Needles: I went from being a bullied young kid who loved Halloween to someone who makes nothing less than $10,000 on Halloween. I do not get out of my coffin without $10K.
What are three essential ingredients for a perfect Halloween?
A hand-crafted costume. No store-bought costumes. I have no tolerance for store-bought at all. True vintage Beistle die-cut Halloween decorations. And of course, on a chilly October night, the most important thing is alcohol.
What was your craziest Halloween party?
I was living with a group of transient post-punk hippies in the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Lafayette, Colorado. And we were basically squatting in a giant mansion, so we threw a Halloween party! And of course we didn’t have electricity so we just created bonfires all over the property. But my costume that year I thought was very clever—I went as a butt pirate. A very gay, glittery pirate.
What has been your greatest Halloween costume ever?
I have done everything. This year I have like six costumes. But my favorite Halloween costume of all time is sheet ghost. Nowadays it gets misconstrued as being something racial, but I love, love a good sheet ghost. It’s understated, but it’s perfect. I love it in its true simplicity. It’s so iconic, but you never really see anyone do it. Unfortunately, it just looks like you’re in the Ku Klux Klan.
Do you ever dress as anything not spooky?
Sure! This year I’m going to be Divine, but I guess she’s kind of scary. I would say that one time I dressed as Phi Phi O’Hara, but I can’t think of anything more terrifying. There’s not enough spray tan in the world to pull off that costume.
What city does Halloween the best?
It’s a toss up. One, I have to say my city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or as I like to say, Pittsburgh, Transylvania, because it has the best haunted houses. We are known around the world for having the scariest, most innovative, artistic haunted houses. But the true answer is probably Salem, Massachusetts, and this will be the second year that they have asked me to be Salem’s Scream Queen. Halloween in Salem is their bread and butter. It puts the pumpkin on the table, and it’s a sight to be seen.
What are the best and worst Halloween candies?
I’m going to say the best is candy corn. It’s so iconic, and even though I don’t really eat it, I buy shitloads of it and put it in decorative bowls all over my house because I love the way it looks. It reminds me of Jiggly Caliente’s old teeth. Those peanut butter chews that come in those orange and black papers are the worst. They’re an absolute nightmare. They’re disgusting. And I could never figure out if there was a difference between the orange ones and the black ones. I just know that they’re equally RuPaulsive.
What is your phobia?
Mushrooms. I can’t look at them; I can’t touch them; I can’t eat them raw... People say: “Oh, you just don’t like the way they taste.” I don’t know what they taste like because I can’t touch them. They terrify me.
What’s the scariest thing about being a drag queen?
The scary thing about drag queens is our power to completely manipulate people. We really are sorceresses. We can make people think we’re beautiful, and graceful, and entertaining, and funny, and sexy, when really, underneath that Bride of Frankenstein is a mad scientist pulling all the strings. The really scary thing is how good we are at manipulating people and selling them pure bullshit.
Tell us your worst drag horror story.
I have millions of them! When your entire career is based on products, potions, wigs, costumes, corsets, and heels, there are so many variables demanding that something go wrong. It is always 100% certain that something will fail since you’re relying on so much hardware. My most recent one is doing an entire Australian tour without any of my luggage. They lost my heels, dress, makeup, and hair. I spent the entire tour promoting my album wearing hotel bed sheets, literally $5 worth of Halloween makeup, and wigs made of mop heads. I was wearing the bed sheets right out of the hotel. There were a lot of white gowns.
What does hell look like for Sharon Needles?
It would be really bright and colorful, and run by Phi Phi O’Hara.
Other than you, who is the spookiest queen?
I think there is one drag queen who’s even spookier than me and more representative of Halloween, and that drag queen’s name is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My personal idol. I only wish to be a drag queen like Elvira. She’s terrifying, she’s spooky, she’s got big tits, and she plays the worst horror movies you’ve ever seen.
Who’s the spookiest queen out of makeup?
It has to be—and she’ll agree with me—Lady Bunny. 100%. The first time I ever saw Lady Bunny out of makeup was on the set of RuPaul’s Drag U. Even though I’m a drag queen myself, and a successful entertainer who knows that there’s a man underneath every drag queen, the first time I met Bunny out of drag I was shocked. I forgot that she wasn’t real. To see her out of that was jarring and mind-blowing. There’s even a rumor that one time she was on the set of Drag U out of drag and a production assistant called the police because they thought there was a homeless person on set.
For more information and tickets for these two terrifying events, visit VossEvents.com.
Follow Brandon Schultz on Twitter @BrandonAlexandr.