Former reigning Next Drag Superstar Sharon Needles sure had a blast on the plane ride from New York to Vienna for Life Ball, the world’s most opulent AIDS Fundraiser, but once she landed things went horribly awry and her invitation to perform at the event was rescinded.
Needles was on the plane with dozens of performers, press, DJs, and other celebrities (Carmen Electra! Adam Lambert! Greg Louganis! Barbara Eden!) for the enormous annual party in Austria’s capital. The flight there is boozy and fun with everyone living it up in the aisles and Needles indulged in plenty of free drinks (and plenty of pulls off her electronic cigarette). At one point she was spotted chugging beers and then spitting the beer onto the door of one of the plane’s restrooms. When the flight landed there was a red carpet right on the runway. Needles was one of the first off the plane and made a comment in front of the journalists and cameras that she was happy to be in Vienna, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.
Apparently Life Ball founder Gary Keszler was in earshot and did not appreciate the joke. Needles was asked not to perform at the giant Arabian Nights-themed party on Saturday, May 25 and was missing from all the official events for the rest of the weekend. New York club legend Susanne Bartsch said that Needles was scheduled to perform in her room at the Ball (which also featured Joey Arias and other RuPaul’s Drag Race alums DWV singing “That Boy Is a Bottom”) but that her performance was cancelled after the joke.
We learned that Needles was immediately sent back to the States, and while on the flight back to New York on Sunday morning she was wearing a suit and on her best behavior. When nearing New York Needles said, “They can appropriate Middle Eastern costumes for their party, but I get banned for giving them a history lesson? This is my country where I can say whatever I want.”
Well, Sharon you can say whatever you want in Austria too, but that doesn’t mean they should still invite you to the party.
Wanting to get the story firsthand we reached out to Sharon, who told us she doesn’t deny making a comment about Hitler:
“I will always use off-putting humor in my work. What Life Ball did was try to censor me from the media, cut me out of the show, and make it seem like I wasn’t there, which is media manipulation and creating propaganda.
The only regret I have is not being able to perform in front of my Austrian fans, which are some of the best in the world. Let’s face it, Sharon Needles is more suited at a Death Ball. After speaking to several Austrian locals, young and old, gay and straight, I realized there was nothing done wrong on my part—Life Ball was just trying to protect their sponsors. I was raised on such great transgressive artists as Divine, Lady Bunny, Shirley Q. Liquor, and the queen herself RuPaul, who taught me that boundaries have to be pushed, and history should not be forgotten.
As for the speculation of my behavior on a plane full of Club Kids, that’s merely hearsay, speculation and exaggeration, and I would not expect anything less from New York’s finest. Andy Warhol once said your worst day is your best tape. Man was that plane a great tape."
Willam adds in the comment section:
"The joke that she told "you hear the one about the baby with AIDS? It never gets old" wasn't mentioned in this and appalled a lot of people we were traveling with. Love her but ****. Know your crowd."