Tag Archives: Sharon Needles

Drag roundup: LogoTV’s Drag Race Pride Party

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Laganja Estranja performs at the Metropolitan Nightclub in West Hollywood. Via tiffmc1013/Twitter

On the last night of the LA Pride festival, I powered through the crowds in West Hollywood to LogoTV’s Drag Race Pride Party because of course I would.

Michelle Visage hosted the event in the middle room of the Metropolitan Nightclub. It’s a Vegas-style club where you make an ascent up a stylish flight of stairs toward a few separate rooms of bars and dance floors. While the space was attractive, the sound system was terrible. Or, whoever was running the sound system was terrible. Either way, there were a number of delays, missed cues and issues with the sound levels. That was a bummer, but it was still a delight to drink a $15 mixed drink while watching all of the performers.

Shangela opened the show with an enthusiastic Beyonce medley — particularly impressive considering she broke her leg during a similar show last Halloween while performing her trademark dance move, the death drop.

Yara Sofia and BenDeLaCreme put on equally captivating performances, although I think the success of these numbers was due in large part to their unique costumes. In Yara’s case, her outfit consisted of a wildly realistic nude bodysuit complete with painted-on breasts, a shock of pubic hair and a gigantic penis prosthetic swinging between her legs. It was a sight to behold. BenDeLaCreme performed her pretty cool robot routine to the Peaches song “Lovertits” in a leotard with a light-up breastplate.

The craftsmanship, professionalism and talent among the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni is astounding, and it’s what keeps me coming back to all of these events.

The fastest way to make friends at a drag show, I’ve found, is to talk about how much you love Laganja Estranja. This tested technique has not failed me yet. When I told someone at the Pride Party that I was mostly there to see her, his face lit up.

“I’m so glad you know!” he gushed.

The sacred knowledge that we share, of course, is that Laganja is — by far — one of the best live performers to appear on “Drag Race.” Plus, her fashion is to die for.

At the Pride Party, Laganja stole the show in a matching leotard and turban augmented with peacock feathers. She showed off her dance skills to RuPaul’s season six featured single, “Sissy That Walk” (which is also RuPaul’s best song since 2011’s “Glamazon”), and then cleared a space through the middle of the crowd to extend her performance into the audience. Killed it.

The evening wrapped up with performances from three previous “Drag Race” winners: Raja, Sharon Needles and Jinkx Monsoon. Jinkx’s campy, vaudeville-style fervor was a great end to the show. And Raja should probably not release any more original music. And neither should Latrice Royale, for that matter. In fact, that trend should just slow down in general.

But if presented with the chance to see Laganja live, take it, and remember that you don’t know nothin’.

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Live: ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Battle of the Seasons

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Willam, Detox, Michelle Visage, Pandora Boxx, Ivy Winters, Carmen Carerra, Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck and Manila Luzon perform in “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Battle of the Seasons. Via Pandora Boxx/Facebook

On Feb. 6, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Battle of the Seasons brought eight performers from the reality television show, as well as host Michelle Visage and RuPaul himself, to Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles for a phenomenal display of theatricality.

Individually, Willam, Alaska Thunderfuck, Pandora Boxx, Sharon Needles, Detox, Manila Luzon, Carmen Carerra and Ivy Winters all took the stage to show off their individual talents at least twice.

Interspersed between performances were videos of the stars backstage and on the road, as well as promotional material from the sixth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which will premiere on Feb. 24. The entire event was incredibly seamless and professional. But with a lot of dick jokes.

While I would deem the whole evening a success, some performances stood out more than others. My jaw actually dropped in awe at Ivy Winters, who juggled gigantic knives while wearing a tall, silver-horned helmet and walked on stilts to Little Mix’s “Wings.”

Alaska wowed me with her singing talent and impressive vocal range during an impassioned cover of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” (a nod, perhaps, to announcing the breakup with longtime boyfriend Needles late last year), as well as her original song “Ru Girl.”

Detox and Willam were fantastic as usual as two thirds of DWV (missing fellow drag queen Vicky Vox, who has not appeared on “Drag Race”) while performing their parody songs “Chow Down (at Chick-fil-A)” and “Boy is a Bottom.” Detox, especially, is not a bad rapper, and her black light shoes were fantastic, although her solo numbers were considerably less interesting. Willam, however, looked amazing, performed flawlessly and had a commanding stage presence throughout. But, of course.

And Needles, my personal favorite and the fifth season winner of “Drag Race,” was as hilarious, creepy and sexy as I’ve always dreamed she would be. For her first number, she was carried onstage in a coffin before launching into “Call Me on the Ouija Board” from her 2013 album “PG-13.”  It’s a really, really great goth-pop song with a catchy hook, smart lyrics full of tongue-in-cheek references to classic horror movies and a super polished sound. I actually haven’t stopped listening to it since. In the song, Needles declares, “I’ll be your Carol Anne, / I’ll be your pentagram. / Let’s dabble in the black arts.” Onstage, Needles picks up a dollar bill that was thrown at her and takes a few bites out of it before throwing it back.

Fun aside, there was also talk about the growing popularity of the show and its increasing influence on creating “drag queen society,” which is not entirely an exaggeration. The show and its contestants appeal to a wide range of audience members, reaching many underrepresented demographics. The wide appeal of fun, kitschy drag queens has allowed for stars that use the platform for political advocacy.

Carerra, who came out as a transgender woman after competing on the third season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” has since become a very public proponent for transgender equality. In January, she appeared alongside “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox on Katie Couric’s talk show to speak about transgender issues, and last year, an online petition aimed at persuading Victoria’s Secret to have Carerra as its first transgender model gathered around 45,000 signatures.

Luzon, also a competitor from season three, has been pretty involved in AIDS awareness since appearing on the show. She and other “Drag Race” alumni appear regularly in public service announcements on Logo TV promoting safe sex and HIV testing.

Fittingly enough, the Battle of the Seasons show took place just as I’ve been following another story of drag queen activism unfolding overseas. On Feb. 1, Irish drag queen Panti Bliss spoke (amazingly effectively and eloquently) about gay rights and oppression in Ireland. Shortly thereafter, a video of the speech garnered such international attention that it has been discussed everywhere from Ireland’s houses of parliament to Russia, where anti-gay legislation was famously passed in 2013 to prohibit “propaganda” in support of “non-traditional” sexual orientation.

All of this just makes me feel like there should be way more drag queens occupying political office.