Sharon Needles

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Sharon Needles
Needles performing in 2017
Aaron Robert Coady[1]

(1981-11-28) November 28, 1981 (age 42)
Newton, Iowa, U.S.
  • Drag performer
  • musician
  • actor
Years active2004–present
Known forRuPaul's Drag Race (season 4) winner
PredecessorRaja Gemini
SuccessorJinkx Monsoon
Musical career

Sharon Needles (born November 28, 1981) is the stage name of Aaron Robert Coady, an American drag performer and recording artist. A self-described "stupid genius, reviled sweetheart, and PBR princess", Needles rose to international attention on the fourth season of the Logo reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race, where she quickly became a fan favorite and was subsequently crowned "America's Next Drag Superstar" in April 2012.[2][3]

After winning Drag Race, Needles released her debut album PG-13 in January 2013.[4] It debuted at number 186 on the Billboard 200 and number nine on Dance/Electronic Albums.[5] Later, Needles released the US Dance/Electronic chart top-ten albums Taxidermy (2015), Battle Axe (2017), Spoopy (2019), and Absolute Zero (2022).

In the late 2010s and early 2020s, Needles was subject to marked criticism in response to allegations of racially insensitive behavior and sexual misconduct. Nevertheless, she remains active and her official YouTube channel has accumulated over 11 million views as of June 2022; four of her videos surpassing a million views on YouTube and another one surpassing two million views on YouTube.

Early life[edit]

Aaron Coady was born to Joan Coady[6] on November 28, 1981, in Newton, Iowa.[7][8][9] He has been candid in discussing his childhood years growing up in Iowa as a difficult time when he faced anti-gay and anti-"outsider" harassment, which prompted him to drop out of Newton High School before he could complete his high school education.[7][8][10][11][12]

Coady began doing drag in 1997[13] and, in 2004, he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he began working as a professional drag performer with the stage name Sharon Needles (a pun on the phrase "sharin' needles") in nightclubs and various other venues with the drag troupe "the Haus of Haunt",[14] which Needles describes as "one punk rock, messy mash up of very talented, fucked up weirdos".[9][10]


Needles in May 2012

In November 2011, it was announced that Needles had been selected to compete as a contestant on the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race.[15] The season premiered on January 30, 2012, and with Needles winning the first challenge she became an instant stand-out for her "ghoulish" fashion sense and unconventional make-up choices.[9][10][16][17][18] On the night of the premiere episode, Entertainment Weekly columnist Tanner Stransky hailed Needles' macabre style as "drop dead genius" and rhetorically asked "Is Sharon Needles the most 'sickening' (a drag term for 'fabulous') contestant ever?"[17]

Throughout the fourth season of Drag Race, Needles endeared herself to audiences and became a favorite of the media, judges, and viewers alike for her quick wit, confidence, humility and uniqueness, as well as for her "transgressive" aesthetic.[9][10][16][18][19] On March 27, 2012, Lady Gaga tweeted – "Sharon Needles looks FABULOUS 2night on drag race. Very Born This Way outfit/fame monster wig. Any rentals for my tour? #needthatbodysuit."[20][21] Needles herself admitted that she was ambivalent in believing that she could win, stating, "(B)eing a comedic, campy, shtick queen and seeing how far those types of queens made it in past seasons, I would have been shocked if I made it past the first day."[10]

In a departure from previous seasons of Drag Race, where rumors of previous winners had leaked before the final episodes could air, the decision was made not to pre-tape the finale episode announcing the season's winner.[8][22] Instead, RuPaul decided to give fans an opportunity to voice their opinions as to who should win before taping of the final episode on April 25, 2012.[8][22] For the taping, three outcomes were filmed announcing each of the "final 3" as the winner, with the true outcome only known to RuPaul and a select few involved in the editing.[8][22] The finale episode aired on April 30, 2012, when it was announced that Needles had been crowned "America's Next Drag Superstar".[8][23]

Needles performing in March 2017

In June 2012, Needles won the Facebook vote to appear as a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, but declined, as the reigning champion, to participate in the competition.[24] She also confirmed that her replacement in the competition would be fellow RuPaul's Drag U professor and the runner-up in the Facebook voting, Pandora Boxx.[24] Needles became a horror host in October 2012 when she began presenting horror and suspense films airing on the Logo network under the series title Fearce![25] Needles also became the face of an advertising campaign by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals promoting vegetarianism,[26] appearing on billboards throughout the United States. In June 2012, the Pittsburgh City Council issued an official proclamation declaring June 12, 2012, "Sharon Needles Day."[27][28][29]

On January 29, 2013, Needles released her debut studio album PG-13, which debuted at number 186 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 3,000 copies in its first week.[5] In April 2013, Needles was featured on the single "RuPaulogize," from Willam Belli's debut album The Wreckoning.[30]

In September 2015, Needles released "Dracula" as the lead single from her second studio album. Needles released her second studio album titled Taxidermy on October 31, 2015. The second single, released on August 5, 2016, was "Hollywoodn't". The music video was once again directed by Santiago Felipe and explored the dark side of Hollywood. In the video, Needles portrayed Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. the Black Dahlia, Sharon Tate and Jayne Mansfield. Her third studio album, Battle Axe, debuted on October 6, 2017, along with a video for the single of the same name. The second single from the album was "Andy Warhol Is Dead", released on November 5, 2017.[31] She contributed to the compilation album Christmas Queens 3 (2017).[citation needed]

Sharon Needles was also voted the "Best Drag Performer" of Pittsburgh 2015 by the staff of the Pittsburgh City Paper.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Needles lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[33]

Needles was in a four-year relationship with fellow RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Justin Honard, better known by his stage name, Alaska Thunderfuck; they ended their relationship in 2013 but remained friends.[34][35][36] Needles was also in a long-term relationship with special FX artist Chad O'Connell. The two began dating in late 2013 and got engaged in 2015.[37] They broke up in summer 2020.[38]

Needles has been widely criticized for her consistent and frequent usage of the word "nigger", with some recounting incidents where she used the word in public.[39][40] Needles has also been criticized for use of heavy racial imagery in her show, with activists Enakai and Maura Ciseaux saying that "by employing racist language and imagery in her act, Needles may be perpetuating [a racist] environment."[41]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions

  • Released: January 29, 2013
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
186 9 25
Taxidermy 11
Battle Axe
  • Released: October 6, 2017
  • Label: Producer Entertainment Group
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
Absolute Zero
  • Released: July 22, 2022
  • Label: Producer Entertainment Group
  • Formats: digital download, LP
_ 3 _

Extended play[edit]

Title Details
  • Released: October 11, 2019
  • Label: Producer Entertainment Group
  • Formats: Digital download


Title Year Album
"Why Do You Think You Are Nuts?" 2013 PG-13
"Dressed to Kill" 2014
"I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore"
(featuring Amanda Lepore)
"Dracula" 2015 Taxidermy
"Hollywoodn't" 2016
"Battle Axe" 2017 Battle Axe
"Andy Warhol Is Dead"
(with Greko, Debbie Harry, Amanda Lepore, and Peppermint)
2019 Non-album single
"Lift Them Up 2020"
(with Greko, Debbie Harry, Amanda Lepore, and Peppermint)
"Absolute Zero" 2022 Absolute Zero
"Flamin' Hot"

Other appearances[edit]

Song Year Other Artist(s) Album
"RuPaulogize" 2013 Willam Belli The Wreckoning
"Supermodel Inc." 2014 Super Electric Party Machine Super Electric Party Machine
"Jingle Bells" 2015 N/A Christmas Queens
"Snow Machine" 2016 N/A Christmas Queens 2
"The Murder of the Lawson Family" 2017 N/A Christmas Queens 3
"I Don't Give a F**k" 2018 Jiggly Caliente T.H.O.T. Process
"Brothers in Our World" N/A Christmas Queens 4

Music videos[edit]

Song Year Director
"This Club Is a Haunted House" 2013 Michael Sharkey
"Call Me on the Ouija Board" Santiago Felipe
"Why Do You Think You Are Nuts?" Marina Pfenning & Tony Balko
"Dressed to Kill" 2014 Ben Simkins
"I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore"
"Dracula" 2015 Santiago Felipe
"Jingle Bells" Steve Willis
"Hollywoodn't" 2016 Santiago Felipe
"Battle Axe" 2017
"Andy Warhol Is Dead" Ben Simkins
"666" 2018
"Monster Mash" 2019 Brad Hammer
"Absolute Zero" 2022 Assaad Yacoub
"Flamin’ Hot"



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2019 The Queens Herself Documentary [44]


Year Title season Role Notes Ref.
2012 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself Season 4 - Winner
RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked Herself
RuPaul's Drag U Herself
2012-2013 Fearce! Herself Logo TV original [45]
2013 Watch What Happens: Live Herself Season 9, Episode 67: "Laura Linney & John Benjamin Hickey" [46]
2013 She's Living for This Herself Season 2, Episode 1 [47]
2016 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself Season 8, Episode 1
2017 Good Behavior Tonya Hardon Season 2, Episode 5, "You Could Discover Me". [48]

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Ref.
2012 "Glamazon" RuPaul [49]
2013 "RuPaulogize" Willam [50]
"You Seemed Shady" Pandora Boxx & Adam Barta [51]
2015 "Hieeee" Alaska Thunderfuck [52]
2019 "Scores" Kahanna Montrese [53]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2013 RuPaul Drives Herself Guest [54]
Ring My Bell Guest [55]
Sharon Needles' Horroscope Host [56]
Pure Camp Co-Host, alongside Alaska Thunderfuck [57]
Cooking with Needles Host [58]
2014 WOW Shopping Network Guest [59]
Alyssa's Secret Guest [60]
Let the Music Play Guest [61]
2015 Drag Queens React Episode: Drag Queens Reading Mean Comments - Part 3 [62]
2016 Bestie$ for Ca$h Guest, with Heklina [63]
2017 COSMO Queens Guest [64]


  1. ^ Battle Axe did not enter the main Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart, but peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart.[43]


  1. ^ "CALL ME ON THE OUIJA BOARD". ASCAP. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  2. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race': Season 4 winner is..." Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  3. ^ Leblanc, Jessica (2017-07-04). "Top 15 Fan Favorites From RuPaul's Drag Race". BabbleTop. Archived from the original on 2019-04-30. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  4. ^ "Sharon Needles' "PG-13"". Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  5. ^ a b c Caulfied, Keith (8 February 2013). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Divas Debut in Top 10 on Billboard Dance Charts". Billboard. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  6. ^ @SHARON_NEEDLES (May 12, 2013). "Wish my mom a happy moms day @JoanCoady" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ a b Sharon Needles. "Sharon Needles – Obitchuary". Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Maria Sciullo (April 30, 2012). "Sharon Needles crowned 'Drag Race' queen". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  9. ^ a b c d Maria Sciullo (April 21, 2012). "Reality Check: Sharon Needles makes 'Drag' Finals". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  10. ^ a b c d e Daniel McEvily (April 26, 2012). "Hail Sharon". Baltimore Gay Life.
  11. ^ Jeffrey James Keyes (December 20, 2011). "A Drag Race Christmas: Sharon Needles".
  12. ^ @sharonneedlespgh (June 12, 2023). "Happy Sharon Needles Day in the city of Pittsburgh!.. there is beauty everywhere." – via Instagram.
  13. ^ @SHARON_NEEDLES (February 11, 2017). "Tonight there's a comet, an eclipse, and a full moon.. it is also my 20 anniversary of doing drag. Happy birthday Sharon!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ "Just who did create the Haus of Haunt?".
  15. ^ Primera Hora (November 15, 2011). "Dos "dragas" boricuas en el reality show de RuPaul". Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Mark O. Estes (April 30, 2012). "RuPaul's Drag Race: Why Sharon Needles Deserves To Win".
  17. ^ a b Tanner Stransky (January 30, 2012). "Is Sharon Needles the most 'sickening' contestant ever?". Entertainment Weekly.
  18. ^ a b Joey Guerra (April 30, 2012). "RuPaul's Drag Race: Happy Halloween". The Houston Chronicle.
  19. ^ Chris Spargo (April 26, 2012). "Sharon Needles Talks 'Drag Race', Beyonce & Boyfriend".
  20. ^ Lady Gaga (March 26, 2012). "Sharon Needles looks FABULOUS..." Twitter.
  21. ^ Lindsay Robertson (March 27, 2012). "Lady Gaga Tweets Her Love Of Sharon Needles' Look".
  22. ^ a b c Tanner Stransky (April 26, 2012). "On the Scene at 'RuPaul's Drag Race: Reunited'". Entertainment Weekly.
  23. ^ Tanner Stransky (April 30, 2012). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' winner speaks out". Entertainment Weekly.
  24. ^ a b Chris Spargo (June 21, 2012). "Sharon Needles Explains Why She Won't Be On 'RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race'".
  25. ^ Spargo, Chris (August 29, 2012). "'FEARce! Hosted By Sharon Needles' Coming To Logo This October". New Now Next. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  26. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (October 15, 2012). "Sharon Needles, Drag Queen, Stars In PETA Halloween 'Flesh-Eating' Ad". HuffPost. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  27. ^ Mueller, Benjamin (June 12, 2012). "Pittsburgh City Council honors drag queen with Sharon Needles Day". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  28. ^ Crawley, Dave (June 12, 2012). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Winner Sharon Needles Honored". KDKA. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  29. ^ Spargo, Chris (June 12, 2012). "It's Sharon Needles Day In Pittsburgh: Video". NewNowNext. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  30. ^ Jacobs, Blake (19 April 2013). "Willam's "RuPaulogize": Never Too Late". World of Wonder. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Sharon Needles – Andy Warhol Is Dead". Genius. Retrieved 2022-03-04.
  32. ^ "2015 Best of People & Places". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  33. ^ "Sharon Needles: 30 Things About My Pittsburgh". NewNowNext.
  34. ^ Middleton, Josh (December 18, 2013). "Sharon Needles and Alaska Announce Breakup". Phillymag. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  35. ^ "RuPaul's Drag Race Stars Sharon Needles, Alaska Break Up - Us Weekly". 19 December 2013.
  36. ^ "Sharon Needles, Alaska break up". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  37. ^ "Sharon Needles: net worth, boyfriend and dating history". celebliveupdate. 11 May 2021.
  38. ^ "Chad O'Connell on Twitter".
  39. ^ Avery, Dan (30 April 2012). "So Is Drag Race Star Sharon Needles A Racist Or What?". Queerty. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  40. ^ Burns, Chase (November 1, 2017). "UPDATE: Queer/Bar Cancels Sharon Needles Performance". The Stranger. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  41. ^ Spargo 6/28/2012, Chris. "Sharon Needles Attacked In Atlanta, Breaks Down". LOGO News. Archived from the original on October 26, 2021. Retrieved 2021-10-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ Caulfield, Keith (6 December 2014). "Adore Delano Sets 'Drag Race' Record". Billboard. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  43. ^ "Sharon Needles: Chart History - Dance/Electronic Album Sales". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  44. ^ Guerrero, Desiree (30 August 2019). "Alaska Shines in New Drag Documentary". Advocate. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  45. ^ Spargo, Chris. "'FEARCE! HOSTED BY SHARON NEEDLES' COMING TO LOGO THIS OCTOBER". Logo TV. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  46. ^ Spargo, Chris (April 23, 2013). "Sharon Needles Is Stopping By "Watch What Happens Live"". NewNowNext. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  47. ^ "**She's Living For This**". here TV. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  48. ^ Hinzmann, Dennis (October 25, 2017). "Michelle Dockery Goes Undercover with RPDR Queens In Good Behavior". Out. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  49. ^ Robertson, Lindsay (April 23, 2012). "Video: RuPaul And Three Finalists Star In 'Glamazon' Video". NewNowNext. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  50. ^ "Willam Belli's 'RuPaulogize' Video Features Sharon Needles As RuPaul, Roller Skating Mayhem". HuffPost. 22 April 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  51. ^ Nichols, James (23 July 2013). "Pandora Boxx, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Star, Debuts 'You Seemed Shady To Me' Video With Adam Barta". HuffPost. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  52. ^ Alaska Thunderfuck - Hieeee [Official]. YouTube. June 8, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  53. ^ Voss, Brandon (March 10, 2019). ""Drag Race" All-Stars Butch It Up in Kahanna Montrese's "Scores" Video". Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  54. ^ RuPaul Drives...Sharon Needles. YouTube. September 23, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  55. ^ Sharon Needles - Ring My Bell. YouTube. August 22, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  56. ^ Sharon Needles' Horrorscope - The Return of The Living Dead. YouTube. October 3, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  57. ^ Sharon Needles and Alaska: Pure Camp - License To Grill. YouTube. September 5, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  58. ^ Cooking with Sharon Needles - Vegetarian Italian. YouTube. November 20, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  59. ^ RuPaul on WOW Shopping Network - Glamazon. YouTube. June 27, 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  60. ^ Alyssa Edwards' Secret - Halloween Special with Sharon Needles. YouTube. October 27, 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  61. ^ Sharon Needles' Let The Music Play - This Club Is a Haunted House Featuring RuPaul. YouTube. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  62. ^ Part 3 | Drag Queens Reading Mean Comments w/ Jinkx, Bebe, Raja, Raven, Chad, Tyra, Sharon, Violet. YouTube. August 25, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  63. ^ Sharon Needles & Heklina - Bestie$ for Ca$h. YouTube. February 22, 2016. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  64. ^ Sharon Needles | COSMO Queens | Cosmopolitan. YouTube. October 30, 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 4, 2019.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race
US season 4
Succeeded by