The Manor, Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, July 6, 2013
There was a shiny, white coffin in the middle of the bar on Saturday night at the Manor.
I was wary at first, but reassured: don't fear, Sharon Needles is here.
The Manor fiercely embodies its name. The palatial grounds resemble a high art English mansion with crystal chandeliers and stately paintings, but with a distinct glitter — flashy disco balls and echoing house music give it a candid sparkle. And the club's spectrum of denizens — young and old, burly and femme, and in all colors and sizes — make it a universal heaven.
Sipping Long Island iced teas and perusing the gargantuan discotheque, one thought occurred to me: A straight girl in a club brimming with sweaty, hard-bodied gay men is a bona fide paradise! I wasn't being objectified or preyed upon as is the norm in the machismo clubs I usually frequent. That's generally a straight woman's M.O. for exploring the gay realm — she just wants to forget the gnawing and groping of the male hegemony.
But there was a better reason for ladies to visit the Manor on Saturday. And it was to see one incredibly creative drag queen.
At 12:30, the main room was teeming with perspiring, eager bodies. A cluster of torsos squeezed toward the stage to catch a glimpse of scantily clad male dancers (who were some serious eye candy) shaking ass. Hours before, I asked a polished drag queen holding a clipboard when Sharon would take the stage.
"I would say around 1, but this is a drag show, honey," she said apologetically, but with a tone that hinted Ms. Needles wouldn't be on until much later.
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Security guards periodically escorted a slew of sickening (a drag term for incredibly amazing) queens through the side door — but no sign of Ms. Needles. After almost two hours of mesmerizing, muscle gyrations (and some heat exhaustion on my end), the dancers left the stage and the music stopped. A familiar, ashen rectangular box penetrated the crowd. There was a freaking full-blown funeral procession under the disco balls.
RuPaul's unmissable timbre came over the speakers.
"Once upon a time, there was a little dead girl," he crooned about Needles, his season four Drag Race winner. "Dug up from the cornfields of Newton, Iowa." Her admirers roared.
"She was discovered by a much more gorgeous, blacker, beautiful, famous drag queen, and her career took off! Oh Lord, I've created a monster..."
The crowd zealously shouted in unison, including myself: "You betta burn witch!"
Sharon Needles — in all her macabre, grisliness and gore — emerged from the coffin.
In a spiky, spandex frock, the white-eyed empress channeled Madonna's cone bra era while her voluminous, platinum 'do, a nod to Gaga. Sorry, Dorothy, but Sharon's souped-up ruby pumps put your slippers to shame.
"This club is officially a haunted house," Needles wailed after a flawless, engaged performance of her eponymous single. What is enlightening about Sharon Needles is though she may channel sugary pop star imagery, she's her own loudmouthed devil. She was her witty, uncensored self at the Manor.
"It's hot as fuck in here," Sharon cried, while panting after her opener. "This is the hottest bar I've ever been to. And I'm not talking about the temperature, I'm talking about all of you."
Fans showered her with money, beer, and cigarettes. They know just what their PBR princess likes. And though if you watched the show without any sound, you might erroneously label it an elaborate freak show, Needles' inherent message amid her ghoul is what makes her pure royalty.
After unleashing a few tracks from her debut album PG-13, including the on point "Call Me on the Ouija Board" (accompanied by a hysterical, sex hotline-like intro video), and the ironically lively "Dead Girls Never Say No," Share pulled at our heartstrings with a cover of Ministry's '80s goth rock subculture anthem, "(Every Day Is) Halloween."
"A lot of people in the gay community and the drag community said there wasn't room for a spooky, Goth drag queen, but look at the witch now!" she screamed.
As she sang, "Why can't they see they're just like me," some people were on the verge of tears. It dawned on me: Sharon's adorers, her zealots — we all love her not only because she looks different than the rest.
"Well, I let their teeny minds think that they're dealing with someone who is over the brink, and I dress this way just to keep them at bay," she pointed vehemently at the crowd.
We love her, because under Sharon's rule, no one can judge us for being freaks.
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