When in doubt, freak ‘em out. Or at least throw in a few pop culture references.
Like many RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, season four winner Sharon Needles forayed into the world of music, having released three albums to date – with the latest, Battle Axe, dropping earlier this month. And with great music comes great music videos, bursting with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent… and in Sharon’s case, some blood, and plenty of pop culture references.
“Andy Warhol Is Dead”
This Ben Simkins-directed video is bursting with nods to the song’s namesake Andy Warhol, kicking off with a recreation of the iconic visual art piece of Warhol eating a hamburger (with a morbid choking twist, of course — this is Sharon Needles). Needles also replicates Peter Hujar’s photograph “Candy Darling on her Deathbed,” which captured the ailing transgender Warhol Superstar as she was dying from lymphoma. Plus there are plenty of Warhol’s classic pop art depictions of Brillo boxes, Campbell’s soup cans and the banana made famous by The Velvet Underground & Nico’s 1967 album artwork.
If you’ve been gagging for round two of the now infamous feud between “Party City” aficionado Sharon Needles and “tired-ass showgirl” Phi Phi O’Hara from season four of Drag Race, then here it is – with a soap opera twist. The video for the title track from Needles’ latest album reunites the queens for a cat-fight, reminiscent of the legendary Dynasty quarrel between Alexis (Joan Collins) and Krystle (Linda Evans).
And if that’s not enough, there are also references to Mommie Dearest, with Sharon recreating Faye Dunaway’s classic portrayal of Joan Crawford as she prunes some rose bushes with her face slathered in white cream. Sharon also sports a skirt suit almost identical to that worn by Bette Midler in Big Business. Plus, she channels Meryl Streep’s character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Oh, and there are a couple jabs at Donald Trump, too.
“Call Me On The Ouija Board”
In classic Sharon Needles style, the video for this song – which appears on her 2013 debut album PG-13 – features all the horror film references fans could ever want, including Poltergeist, Children of the Corn, The Exorcist, It (she makes a terrifying Pennywise) and The Omen. Plus, there’s a quick cameo from writer/columnist Michael Musto.
“When most kids were hiding their eyes or cowering under the covers, I was three inches away from the television when horror movies were played,” Sharon said of the video upon its release. “‘Call Me On The Ouija Board’ is homage not just to horror movies involving children, but my favorites as a child.”
“Why Do You Think You Are Nuts?”
As a tribute to her punk roots, the video for this song – also from PG-13 – is a shot-for-shot remake of Penny Pearce’s 1983 performance of “The Shrink” which aired on a Santa Monica-based channel called Group W Cable Public Access and has since become a cult classic. According to WMFU, Pearce’s song was recorded after 15 years of failed therapy and an unconfirmed source claiming to be her grandson described her as “really eccentric.”
“Dressed To Kill”
Coinciding with the release of her collaborative fashion line Geoffrey Mac for Sharon Needles, which premiered during New York Fashion Week 2014, this video is a must-see for fans of Sharon’s wardrobe and fashion buffs alike. Speaking of the video upon its release, Needles said: “It’s an homage to my obsession with macabre, punk street fashion. In the past, when I lacked designer duds, I simply relied on my hot glue gun.” It’s also worth noting that the song itself features a reference to the 1985 classic The Return of the Living Dead with the lyric: “This isn’t a fucking costume / This is a way of life.”
“I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore”
There’s really no way this video couldn’t have featured iconic transgender model and nightlife figure Amanda Lepore. Needles shared that she wrote this song when she was 18. “It was almost a suicide note,” she told Queerty. “I found my first picture of Amanda Lepore online in fashion magazines. It was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen in my life. I thought nothing could trump the perfection of that photograph.”
Needles explained that the video’s concept focuses on what she and Lepore have in common, which is “that every part of our success is smoke and mirrors. And every part about us is a broken mirror and a lack of smoke. When we’re not in drag we’re so real. And then when we’re in drag it’s all a big lie. The whole video is just thousands of dollars of smoke machines and tens of thousands of dollars of mirrors.”
This Santiago Felipe-directed cut from Needles’ 2015 album Taxidermy is full of homages to famous vampires: Nosferatu, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys …even Count Chocula. It serves some serious blood-sucking couture.
Sharon transforms into a full-fledged punk rocker here, complete with the Johnny Rotten-esque accented vocals. This video for the track from the 2015 Christmas Queens compilation album is also interspersed with footage of Black Friday riots, to remind us of the joys of holiday shopping. There’s also a momentary reference to the Christmas-time classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, with a lyric that alters the famous “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings” line to “Every time a bell rings a demon gets its horns.” Classic Sharon Needles.
Inspired by the idea that fame is fleeting, Needles said that there was a time when she saw the “bullshit of Hollywood,” and that with this song, she wanted it to “sound very much like a murdered, 16-year-old, teenage virgin at the bottom of a pond that would never be found.” So to convey that dark message, she used tragic old Hollywood stories, such as the deaths of Elizabeth Short (“The Black Dahlia”), Jayne Mansfield and Sharon Tate, who was murdered by members of the Manson Family.
And although it’s not from a music video, Sharon Needles and Alaska Thunderfuck deserve an honorable mention for their early Halloween costume they debuted last week, which paid tribute to the film Death Becomes Her, starring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep.