So Is Drag Race Star Sharon Needles A Racist Or What?

UPDATED: April 30, 2012; May 1, 2012

Fans of Drag Race clutched their pearls recently. Not because the finale was cruelly postponed a week—but because fan fave Sharon Needles was branded a racist.

The Huffington Post’s Zach Stafford reports on a old Facebook status update spinning around the blogosphere, in which Needles drops an N bomb and alludes to cheating on his kai kai, Alaska Thunderfuck.

“i fucked a black last week…call me a cheater, not a racists..i don’t say n-word..i say nigger..thats the word..i’m not afraid of language..and i’m not afraid to say red lipstick is not your color..and i’m not afraid to say that i hate when people post pictures of them self eating..beans for that matter!! but the baby picture is super cute!!”

Stafford says the post left him “unsettled and a tad angry” and labeled Needle’s language “uncalled for and inappropriate, to say the least.”

Honestly, we’re not sure what the post is implying—there’s no context. We’ve never met Needles and we don’t know how she normally talks about black people. Based on what we’ve seen of her on the show, it sounds like:

A. She was making a point about political correctness and closet racism, and

B. She may have been drunk.

We’ve all said racist, sex and even homophobic things in our lives. Sure, most of us wouldn’t post them on Facebook but drag queens are supposed to be inappropriate and flout propriety. (Divine ate actual dog shit!)

We love RuPaul to pieces, but in devoting ourselves to Drag Race so much, we’ve forgotten that we’re not seeing how queens really act—we’re seeing a carefully edited and plotted show, where the drama and outbursts are either orchestrated or seemlessly rearranged after the fact.

Remember when Drag Race made a big deal about Phi Phi O’Hara referring to Latrice Royale and Dida Ritz as “the Help”? Honestly, it was the only funny thing we’ve heard O’Hara—a queen of color herself—say all season. Hell, we wouldn’t be surprised if the producers wrote it for her.

We’ve laughed till tears streamed down our faces at Bianca del Rio, the most biting drag queen in New York. (Seriously, the bitch casts more shade than an elm tree.) Do we blush at her un-PC shenanigans even as we giggle? Sure, but she’s only reflecting reality back at us through a fun-house mirror.

And that’s what drag queens do—it’s really the only job requirement. Not lip-synching, not hot-glue-gunning your dress together, not Swiffering the floor with your taint.

As we said, context is everything: “I’m such a fan of using shocking images, whether they be relevant or not…,” Needles said in an interview. “I don’t hate anyone for how they look. I hate people for who they are.” In a follow-up to the original post, she cites Patti Smith, Joan Rivers, John Lennon and other artists who have incorporated the N-word into their act.

But a post on Thunderfuck’s website—signed by “A Concerned Citizen”—is suggesting that the Facebook outburst is just the latest in a string of questionable incidents by Needles:

There have been many accusations and rumours concerning the so-called drag queen known as Sharon Needles as of late. But as a concerned citizen and a professional activist I will refrain from petty personal attacks and trite gossip. Let us start with cold. Hard. Facts.


Sharon Needles has worn a swastika t-shirt.
Sharon Needles has worn an upside-down cross.
Sharon Needles has worn a Confederate flag one-piece swimsuit.
Sharon Needles has used the N-WORD onstage.

The post goes recount an incident where Needles used the N-word in public at Pittsburgh’s Blue Moon lounge and brands the goth queen “a hipster racist.” Of course it also states that “Men should be men [and] women should be women,” and urges readers to banish words like cock, pussy, vagina and Voldemort “into the darkest recesses of your spirit immediately.” So who the hell knows.

Was it Alaska herself who posted that undated rant or did someone hack her page? Was it an honest accusation or part of some performance piece the dynamic duo have cooked up?

With Sharon apparently calling herself a “cheater,” Alaska has something to be pissed about. But just this Friday, Needles told NewNowNext that Thunderfuck was her biggest source of support. “He is my biggest fan and best employee—Honestly, it is nice to date someone who has such an open mind and is so, so supportive of me and my career.”

God, we hope this all blows up during the reunion special!

UPDATE April 30, 2012: Sharon Needles has posted on Facebook that the original status update from February was a fake:

I’m known for my filthy mouth, and I wish I could take credit for this one, but this is an obvious forgery. A very famous black man in a blonde wig once said that what other people think of me is none of my business, but in rare form I feel compelled to respond to this false Facebook post.

It disheartens me to think that anyone would think I have any negative views on race, sex, creed, weight, or any other “label.” I am too smart and too inspired by all levels of pop culture to hate anyone on something as simple as race. To whomever created this fabricated Facebook post, I applaud you for serving social media realness, but I suggest you spend your free time on something more productive.

Stafford, the HuffPo writer who raised the issue, tweeted:

“I am sorry to @Sharon_Needles for any harm done with leaking that photo. I showed it in order to find out if it was true or not.”

We’ve put a request in to get the T from Needles herself and will report back soon!

UPDATE MAY 1, 2012: Stafford reached out to Queerty and explained that his tweet was in reference to an unrelated image, not the alleged Facebook status.

Photo: Mathu Andersen for Logo

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  • Ellen

    You guys should do your research before publishing articles like this disparaging someone’s reputation. Last night Sharon made a post on Facebook clearly stating that she did not write that post along with opinion about racism. Fact checker please?

  • Mikey

    Also, Michelle Visage posted it’s a fake too. It seems the blog writer (Zach Stafford) is just trying to get attention…

  • Mark

    This is a big beef of mine with liberalism and “PC”. It’s not whether the charges are true or not, it is “THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE ACCUSATIONS”. Anatomy of a smear. Well, Ms. Needles, you’ve been smeared as a homophobe, I mean misogynist, I mean – racist. Now PROVE to us you’re not.

  • chris

    should really take this article down.the guy who wrote that crap even admitted it was bs.

  • Brian Porter

    For God’s sake, can’t anybody spot a bad PhotoShop pic anymore? Sheesh!!

  • QJ201

    WTF, story is like DAYS old…and yes…just lifted from other websites, not much “research”


  • Ellen

    Forget about the “mea culpa”. Take the article down now.

  • Ted

    Last night someone apparently posted something using a Sharon Needles account calling Sahara Davenport the N – Word. Manila and Sahara were blasting Sharon. Go check out Manila’s FB page, she still has something on there about it. Sahara took everything down.

  • Gee

    Why would she wish to take credit for such a post if it weren’t true?

  • Jason Sweeten

    Totes fake. Here’s my thinking:

    • This is supposed to be a string of two comments; however, there’s no dividing line between the two comment.
    • The width is too long. You wouldn’t see a comment span twenty words before having a line break.
    • Shouldn’t her name “Sharon Needles” be blue and clickable?

    The thousands of facebook versions / timeline transitioning / browsers sizes make it a bit tough for me to prove all of these, but it’s enough for reasonable doubt.

  • Polyboy

    Dear Mark,

    This has nothing to do with “liberalism” or political correctness. Smear first has been a Fox News tactic for the last 10 years so it is not a “liberal” thing.

    As for Sharon Needles, I’m glad the post was fake, but since she is a comedian and and general witworker, she get’s an entertainer rope to make her point.

    I did not get any more worked up over this than I did when Scott Thompson referred to Canadians as snow niggers.

  • Polyboy

    Dear Mark,

    This has nothing to do with “liberalism” or political correctness. Smear first has been a Fox News tactic for the last 10 years so it is not a “liberal” thing.

    As for Sharon Needles, I’m glad the post was fake, but since she is a comedian and and general witworker, she get’s an entertainer rope to make her point.

    I did not get any more worked up over this than I did when Scott Thompson referred to Canadians as snow n*****s.

  • pittsburgh socialite

    I’m pretty sure this is not a new issue for Sharon. I’m not knocking her, as I feel people grow and they evolve. But from Iowa to the blue moon bar in Pittsburgh you are not going to see plenty of exposure to African Americans….that said, fame and life experience builds character and understanding…sharon is not a racist..she is from racists and has to learn to adapt and overcome quickly to erase stereotypes her life may have created.

  • PTBoat

    I apologize for acting as the grammar police, but the proper way to show possession for Sharon’s name is to add the apostrophe after the “s” in her last name, rather than before it. Writing “Sharon Needle’s” changes her name to Sharon Needle. That’s not nearly as witty as her real drag name, Sharon Needles. Writing a blog is different from merely commenting on a blog post and, therefore, requires more adherence to rules of grammar.

  • Disgusted American

    I like all 3 finalist for diff. reasons..but I hope its:

    Chad Michaels for the Win
    Sharon Needles 2nd
    PhiPhi – 3rd

    we shall see….we shall see

    one thing that was consistant throughout the season – Chad Michaels Professionalism,Talent and Diginity

  • rhonda

    Oh please — better journalism. That Alaska T. website item is a spoof! Alaska is Sharon’s significant other and loves her to ribbons! She is spoofing people being offended by Sharon’s act.

  • amputatedtitty

    Damnnnnn lol @PTBoat:

  • Xanadu

    Zach Stafford is friends with Jaremi Carey [Phi Phi O’Hara] on Facebook.

  • ScreamQueenz

    rhonda: You are totally right. I read that post and immediately saw that is was a spoof or satire. It’s about a serious as Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” which in order to help the overcrowded and starving British class suggested that they start eating children…and I suggested recipes.

    OK, I’m taking off my total nerd hat and going home now.

  • pgh person

    oh, and they weren’t “status updates” either. the comments made by sharon needles were in response to folks in pgh not being ok with her or her partner participating in a drag show and benefit for occupy pgh. there’s a lot of people here who like her, but there’s also a lot of folks who don’t due to things like this.

  • Ogre Magi

    I bet it was Phi-Phi that hacked Sharron’s account!

  • Oh, ok

    Did we go back in time to the 90s? No one is hacking anymore.

    And seriously why are people who have never touched Photoshop in their lives always claiming something was shop’d? Professionals can’t even tell so how exactly can you? You seriously going in pixel by pixel looking for the ones that were added? …Ok.

  • Another Pittsburgh Person

    Now that she’s working at the national level, she’s backing away from the racist schtick that she’s used in Pittsburgh for years.

    Sharon has performed in nazi and confederate flag get-ups and has made the same racist remarks ‘in character’ and has been criticized for it, but her fans are quick to defend this nonsense as being “‘deep’ and ‘transgressive'” or some other kind of hipster nonsense.

  • pgh person

    seems like sharon needles was being vague on her fb status update saying she didn’t write “that”. but in all honesty, she’s probably talking about the sahara comment and not the february fb thread comments. those comments are real. sharon really did write those, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. it sure is easy to turn a blind eye to racist antics when it’s someone you adore.

  • Get your facts straight

    Sharon Needle did wear a Swastika shirt and a confederate flag on stage. There are pictures of her doing so, this is not debatable. She also performed in black face (wearing black make up in order to portray an African American Character). As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, I find it offensive that she uses Nazi symbols in order to appear edgy. She is turning genocide and murder of homosexuals into a huge joke.

  • Jurlesia

    You all are sad, SAD people if you’re looking to these drag queens for morals and omnipotence. Yikes.

  • Suck it

    If she did actually say it, she’s just being real. Get over it. People can call her a fag and it’s ok and she can’t speak her mind? WTF!

  • villa-viper

    This Liberal Nazisim is really pathetic. Remember freedom of speech? People say Spic, Wetback and Chink all the time and people don’t go crazy. Fundamentalist of ANY kid are dangerous!!

  • shannon


  • pgh knows

    she did say this. everyone in Pittsburgh remembers when this happened and it was not photoshopped. it was a huge controversy. she also posted a christmas pic that said, “merry christmas niggers.” Everyone knows Sharon Needles uses N-words a lot and that is why she is questionable in Pittsburgh. If you all need to think it’s fake, whatever. We know.

  • there-she-blows

    It is interesting you say that Shannon because Queerty recently had an article about a young gay white man being beat up (as a hate crime) by a group of black men. Just in case you DIDENT KNOW-ALL RACES can be haters!

  • DouggSeven

    @shannon: Hi internet troll – how are you. Typical troll posting garbage in caps AFTER the update where it wasn’t even a true story.

  • Luke Holbrook

    I heard an uncensored radio interview with Sharon Needles 3 weeks ago along with Phi Phi O’hara and Dida Ritz and the talk of how gangsta Sharon was came up…

    She jokes as a character while dressed as Sharon and realizes that the N* word is just a word and she says it jokingly.

    They joked about loving a man in uniform and she jokingly adds, ‘a nazi uniform’ but it’s all taken in good fun.

    It’s irreverent but still just a joke as Sharon jokes that Dida Ritz will want white kids one day.

    Hear the interview here:
    http://thehomohappyhour.podomatic.com/entry/2012-04-19T15_29_11-07_00 or on http://www.OutloudOrlando.com or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbcBmHM89AA&list=PL031545822216CF0F&feature=view_all

    Dida talks about how gangsta Sharon is and Sharon responds ‘N*gga what?’: 29 minute mark
    Dida wants white kids: 30 minutes 30 second mark
    Sharon loves a man in a (nazi) uniform: 27 minute mark

  • roxymoxy

    I am from Pittsburgh and have has several encounters with Sharon Needles way before she was ever on Drag Race. The last one was at a bar/lounge (more like bar/rec room) and she and a friend struck up a conversation with me. It quickly became obvious that the whole reason for the conversation was for them to see how many times they could say the word Nigger before I reacted (I am a black woman). Knowing a reaction was what they wanted, I walked away because I refused to give them one.

  • void

    Just wanted to mention that the posts in February were in fact by Sharon. Alaska had been attacked by a group in Pittsburgh and they were trying to get her out of a gig by calling her a ‘racist’.

    The posts in question are a recent development involving Sahara Davenport that were fabricated.

  • Cory Ocasio

    I bet phi phi ohara had something to do with this lol

  • Geno

    Omfg. !! This argument is ridiculous.

  • void

    @Cory Ocasio: Actually, the guy who initially reported it (Zach Stafford) is a friend of Phi Phi’s, hahahaha.

  • Ad Mans

    the fb may or may not be real, but the racist sentiment is no shock or surprise from america’s newest drag super star. i am a queer living in pittsburgh, about two blocks from the blue moon actually, and it is a wide known fact sharon has not shy of racists language, material, or presentation. i cannot say if she is or isn’t racists, that is her deal deal, but i can say…

    she has used the n-word repeatedly both on stage, over a drink, and online.
    she has indeed adorned her fantastic self with the swastika.
    she is most definitely been beach bombshell in a confederate flag.
    she has also performed in black face. a historically oppressive and sad performance trope america continues to struggle with.

    i am a fan, i cannot lie that i think sharon is doing cool work. that doesn’t mean she is perfect, politically correct, or inhuman. it also doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be held accountable. she’s on the national radar now, and her actions and choices should be as well.

  • Joshua L

    Lets be honest, we are human and we all make mistakes. Regardless whether or not Sharon made this comment I still like her. I have made comments I regret, and I do not even necessarily believe them. Anyone who has the audacity to sit back and say they have not made a racist or homophobic or sexist comment in their life is straight out lying to you. Get over it, we are human. It is obvious Sharon is not racist, I regrettably have made a racist comment or two in my life, and I also have regrettably fit the stereo type of things that I despise from time to time. That is because I am human and I am not ashamed to admit it. Anyone who can sit back and tell someone they are an awful racist person for one comment that they may or may not have said is a hypocrite. I do not know a single person alive who has not made a comment that they regret.

  • John

    I’m pretty sure I know who that concerned citizen is. I’m a comedian based in Pittsbugh. There is this crazy woman who protests at shows because she heard one of the comedians do a rape joke at an open mic. She claims to be all about love and peace and freedom of speech but she throws things at people and flips over tables if they say things she doesn’t like. She’s been calling Sharon a racist and has been trying to bad mouth her all over the city. Sharon is a former neighbor of mine and one of the sweetest people. She likes to push buttons but I can say that as far as I could tell she had no malice or hatred towards any group of people.

  • BryanC

    I love Sharon, and these so-ca;;ed “pgh” people can, in the words of Latrice Royale, “Eat It”.

  • Transwomyn

    I met Sharon on a visit back to Pittsburgh (way before RuPaul) and met her at the Blue Moon bar in Lawrenceville. She was very nice (I’m a woman of color).

  • Dan

    Sharon is instillation/performance art. I’m glad she causes a stir. Its the sign of a true artist. I heard she is going to reenact the last supper live with modern day products and people of the time… oh wait, that was already done and considered sacrilege.

  • brandi

    Wow. I loved Sharon needles and I’m black myself. This saddens me.

  • Ryan

    The first message — She’s right. I wish people would do their fucking homework.

    The second message — Ooh..no no… She can’t NOT have been drunk or cross-faded when she wrote this. Stupid stupid. See, this is the one she should have apologized for, or at the very least clarified what she meant

Comments are closed.