Last night, RuPaul's Drag Race announced its fourth queen champion. In the running were the refined Chad Michaels, the fierce (not in the fashion way, but in the rip-your-eyes-out-with-her-talons way) Phi Phi O'Hara and the mind-boggling Sharon Needles. I'm going to say who won, so avert your eyes if you must. Really, I'm saying it. I don't know why you're on the Internet if you're so afraid of being spoiled about something that everyone has already talked about, but whatever...
Sharon won, duh.
I was at the official reunion/finale party last night at New York's XL and the room erupted when Sharon was named winner. The energy was like nothing I'd experienced before, not even at concerts attended by an army of obvious sycophants.
I was there to help host Logo's online live stream, which involved interviewing some of the queens (alongside Jon Mallow, who's been dealing with these queens for years). I interviewed Sharon before she was announced the winner and she seemed totally out of it, walking around the venue looking enfeebled and then just kind of floating next to me in a tight-fitting white dress and witch's hat with angular black stripes. "How are you?" I asked as we waited for our cue. Silence. We got the cue and she snapped to life. Weird. I did get to talk to her about how she described herself on the first episode ("beautiful, spooky and stupid") and I complimented her for repping stupidity. Not enough people do so and it's important.
I also talked to Willam, whose unceremonious elimination was one of the season's highlights of controversy. To hear him (sorry, I know I'm switching back and forth between pronouns, but I'm letting the proper names dictate that) and Ru discuss it on the reunion, he was kicked off for having sex with his boyfriend in his hotel room between tapings. (When they aren't in front of the cameras, the queens stay quarantined at a hotel. RuPaul's Drag Race is unique in that it doesn't document its contestants' living situation, but mainly their work process and the fruits of it.) Before we interviewed, as he stood with his back to my front as if we were posing for a prom picture (my mark made it so that his good side was obscured unless we stood that way), I told him that fucking was the best reason to get kicked off a show. "You think so? It's false," he said. "Well, why'd you get kicked off for real, then?" I wondered. "Off the record?" he asked. "Sure," I said, completely willing to keep whatever he told me to myself. "Nothing's off the record," he said (probably wise — I was introduced as being from Gawker, and he knew the site well enough to say that he missed Defamer). And then he said he's not going to announce it until he's "signed with Logo." Whatever any of that means. While we were talking, he also pointed out using the controversy of elimination to his benefit by releasing a single immediately after. Who knows what's right, why they'd even bother to give a bogus explanation, if Willam was trolling me for more controversy. If there is something else to Willam's elimination, will we even care when we finally discover it? Once a reality show is over, it's over.
Interestingly, the only queen that I interviewed (and it was only about half of them — Jon got fan favs Latrice Royale and Chad Michaels) that actually looked me in my face and said that it was nice talking to me was the season's villain, Phi Phi O'Hara. A big event like that can be really distracting and in their seven-inch heels and pancake makeup, these entertainers had more important things to do than stand there and answer softball questions (I was asked to avoid talking to Sharon about the RuPaul's Drag Racist stuff). This was not RuPaul's Best Friend Race's reunion, and I was not there to make penpals. That said, the irony of Phi Phi going above and beyond to be personable was immense, considering her characterization. Maybe being characterized as "the bitch" on TV makes people work that much harder in person to disprove their image. Maybe more people should be cast in such a negative light in front of a nation. It could create a lot of humility.
After Sharon won, she was brought up onstage and an ornate crown was placed over her witch hat by Season 1 victor Bebe Zahara Benet and Season 3's queen queen Raja. "It's 2012. This is the year of the fucking freak, everyone," Sharon told the crowd to an enthusiastic response. This is the type of stuff that Lady Gaga has been saying for almost three years, and given her stature as the biggest pop star on the planet, the rhetoric is decidedly less than freaky. Sharon Needles is probably more a product of a time where eccentricity is a commodity than she is a true revolutionary, but that doesn't mean her weirdness isn't genuine. "Happy Halloween," she said to me, in parting. The night was hers.