by Jason LeRoy
After headlining last summer’s sold-out Peaches Christ production of The Silence of the Trans, Sharon Needles is returning to San Francisco—along with her boyfriend and RuPaul’s Drag Race season five runner-up Alaska Thunderfuck—to join Christ and fellow Drag Race contestant Honey Mahogany for a can’t-miss performance based on the beloved 1996 teen horror flick The Craft, live at the Castro Theatre on July 13. I recently rang up Sharon and Alaska to discuss loving The Craft, being goth in high school, and which Drag Race contestants they’d like to cast spells on.
Sharon Needles: I have seen The Craft over 50 times. I don’t really remember the first time I saw it, but it was definitely one of those films that spoke to me as a punk goth fag teenager. It was right up my alley. It was all about the cool goth girls at school getting together to make the preppie boys’ and girls’ lives a living hell. I really identified with that part. I still don’t know if Alaska’s ever seen The Craft…
Oh really? Alaska, can you confirm that you’ve seen The Craft?
Alaska Thunderfuck: Sorry, I’m falling asleep. I didn’t get any sleep yesterday. I’m awake! I can confirm that I have seen The Craft. I love it. It was totally around that time that we all started turning pseudo-goth when we were in high school. That was when my best friend Elena started wearing her spiked dog collar. So I definitely credit The Craft with doing that. It brought witchcraft and wicca to Erie, PA.
SN: It was my Clueless, basically. When all the other gay boys were watching Clueless, I was watching The Craft.
I was also a big Craft fan while attending high school south of Pittsburgh, and it totally made me want to be a Wiccan. I started hanging out at this occult shop in the South Side called Eye of Horus, but all the chalices were too expensive, so I had to give up my Wiccan pursuits.
AT: They are expensive!
SN: I was always attracted to darker-natured things and industrial music and the imagery of witches, but I’ve always been smart and known all that Wiccan stuff was bullshit. I liked the imagery of it, and I always carried my—well of course, you’re in San Francisco, you know Anton LaVey and The Satanic Bible. So I always had my Wiccan books and my Satanic Bible, but really I was just reading about these people so I could prepare myself to make fun of them. “Wiccan” is just a fancy word for fat and goth.
Do you think The Craft misled audiences about the attractiveness of the average female Wiccan?
SN: Teenage girls deal with a lot more social pressures than boys, and I think gay boys and outsider girls get picked on a lot. So these movies were escapist films where we could basically live through Nancy. Instead of us casting spells and killing people in high school like we really wanted to, we just lived vicariously through Nancy. I think gay boys and fat girls are almost the same thing. That’s why Peaches Christ is putting on the show! She’s a gay boy as well as a fat goth girl.
She’s the total package.
Sharon, this will be your second production with Peaches following The Silence of the Trans last summer. How was that experience for you?
SN: It was weird! I’ve always been a fan of Midnight Mass and I always think Peaches Christ picks the best-fitting campy movies and creates these gay-righteous homages to them, but The Silence of the Lambs would’ve been the last choice of a film I’d even do. I didn’t think it was that campy, I didn’t think it was that obvious—until Peaches described to me that if you go back and rewatch this 1991 classic, it is campy as shit, and unintentionally so. I had to find that unintentional camp factor. And I’m so used to playing ditzy glamour villains, so Buffalo Jill was a harder role for me to play; a kind of brutish man-tranny hell-bent on skin. But it was a pleasure to do, and was why I returned. Peaches Christ isn’t just a friend. To me and Alaska, she’s had a huge impact on what we do. The San Francisco drag scene reflects what me and Alaska do on a national scale probably more than any other city.
You mentioned that Peaches explained the camp appeal of Silence to you. Did she need you to explain The Craft to her? She’s pretty open about not necessarily connecting with the nostalgia films of audiences who were in high school in the late ‘90s and beyond.
SN: Yes, but due to her severe immaturity, she can connect with these teenage films. Some people say horror movies create things like Columbine, but me and Peaches have always said that these movies are what’s stopping them. These were our outlets. We love any tale of a villain who is really just a victim seeking revenge. Peaches may have been a little bit older when the movie came out, but I’m sure she was there opening motherfucking night.
SN: We’re basically using the original format of the film. There’s the African American girl who’s being picked on for being black and on the swim team, but we’re going to write in some of Honey Mahogany’s struggles from RuPaul’s Drag Race along with it just for the camp factor. Alaska’s character is suffering from having severe scars, but we’re gonna take it another route and make it so that she has to have her penis removed. Obviously I can’t believe Peaches Christ gave me the meaty role of Nancy! I think fans of Sharon Needles and fans of the film will really enjoy it, because me and Nancy, we’re two peas in a pod—and I pity that pod. Peaches is playing the straight man this time around, which I think will be really funny. We’re so used to seeing Peaches in the most dramatic over-the-top meaty roles. It’s not surprising. She’s a very, very selfish theater major who only does plays that allow her the meaty roles while everyone else has to suffer with these pitiful small roles. But that’s just her ego and her makeup.
She’s a greedy theater queen.
SN: [laughs] Of course this is all just in fun! But I think the audience is going to enjoy it, and I think Peaches is going to enjoy playing the straight man and the victim. We don’t normally get to see Peaches take the meeker roles, but if you watch all her plays, she does always somehow end up playing the victim…for the rest of her life. [pause] Alaska, are you still with us? Alaska, she has the same disease that Jinkx Monsoon has. When she gets really tired, she has to go to bed. It’s a rare disease called “tired.”
Alaska, just like Sharon did last summer, you’re fitting a big Peaches Christ production into your promotional Drag Race tour schedule. How are you finding the energy?
SN: I just told you, she’s sleeping! [laughs] Alaska, how do you find the energy to do this tour? Other than coke?
AT: [distant] I’m really just multitasking. Like right now, I’m actually taking a shit.
SN: She is! She’s in the bathroom right now!
AT: That’s why I’m on this call with Sharon, because I won’t have to talk at all.
SN: That’s why she married me, because I have all the answers. She’s the pretty one.
I see! So how do you think RuPaul’s Drag Race would be different if Peaches Christ could guest-host for a season?
SN: I think Peaches Christ has grown up in that realm of conceptual, sloppy, punk rock, politically driven, politically incorrect drag, so I think beauty would probably take the back seat to anything else. I think for her Drag Race, it wouldn’t be charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent; it might be humor, gross out, offend, and thrill. Those would be the four things you’d have to do in order to take that crown, which in my opinion, would probably be made out of cardboard and metallic duct tape.
SN: You never know.
They’re both such greedy queens.
SN: [laughs] We just gotta get rid of that RuPaul!
SN: Hmm. I think I would do a binding spell on Mimi Imfurst to prevent her from doing harm to herself and harm to others. Maybe a silencing spell on Phi Phi O’Hara…
AT: And I would try to cast a beauty spell on Michelle Visage.
SN: That’s not true, Alaska. One time we did try to perform a spell on Michelle that required a lock of hair, but it turned out it was all completely synthetic, so the whole thing went haywire.
I hear she actually has alopecia, so there’s no real hair anywhere.
SN: It’s true. She’s also black.
AT: And a man.
Layer upon layer of fraud, that’s Michelle Visage.
AT: No, she’s lovely, I’m kidding.
SN: I’m not, you pussy! Show’s over Alaska, who cares? There’s no Drag U for you to get on anyway.
And finally, I’d feel really remiss if I didn’t ask your opinion on a vital national issue: what do you think Kim Kardashian should name her baby? [This interview was conducted prior to the announcement of that poor baby’s actual name.]
AT: Liberace Vine!
SN: Maybe I would name it Phi Phi O’Hara, because it’s probably going to be synthetically tan and really annoying.