Here at Dangerous Minds we are on a mission not only to entertain but to educate as well. And I can’t think of anything more essential, in terms of getting through life with both grace and cunning, than knowing the secrets of pro wrestling, particularly the esoteric art of the dirty tactic. What was once forbidden knowledge is now made accessible to you, dear reader, as a way of thanking you for your loyalty and steadfast support of our humble website. This knowledge is given freely. The only thing that I ask is that you keep it to yourself.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show on TV right now. No, wait, let me rephrase that: RuPaul’s Drag Race is THE best reality show in the history of TV. Yes, I’m fucking serious.
It feels a bit like coming out all over again, to admit an obsession with a show so frivolous and outrageously camp as RDR. But I’m not ashamed, no siree. I couldn’t give two hoots what any of the detractors say, Drag Race is fun, funny, glamorous, touching and educational. It delivers on so many levels that it puts the bigger, mainstream reality shows to shame, a fact acknowledged by Pamela Anderson, who has stated that the talent on Drag Race easily outclasses that on American Idol.
And I’m not even a reality TV fan. I hate it! You know how these competition shows seem like such a fucking lie cos all the contestants are MOR dweebs hand-picked for their inanity, and the judges spew out bullshit platitudes when the truth is they have no clue how to control the market forces of the entertainment industry? That has always bugged me, as has the premise that somehow a mystical team of background operatives can bestow superstar status on an individual of their choosing. Well, Drag Race is different. Very different. First off, it’s a show about competing drag queens. Case closed. But in case you’d like me to explain further, don’t worry, I fully intend to…
Right away, out the window goes that hypocritical, bullshit false humility that stinks up reality TV. Being a show-off is always frowned upon on these shows, and a confident extrovert is generally framed as being “arrogant.” It’s a fundamental mythos of the entire reality genre (you know the score, the loveable loser who would still be lingering in a factory or waiting tables if it wasn’t for the grace of Simon Cowell to descend from his throne and bestow fame upon them.) Realistically the judges and producers need someone who is easy to manipulate and control, but they also need someone who is comfortable in front of an audience and a few cameras yet who knows their place and won’t outshine the real stars, the judges themselves.
Drag Race contestants are not random losers plucked from the braying horde to be made famous, these girls have been picked to compete because they are FABULOUS, and they are not scared of showing it off! RuPaul herself actively encourages showing-off, with a peacock-parade at the end of each show, and a lip sync competition between relegated queens to see who stays on. These are goddam drag queens after all, and showing off is in their bones, their genes, their very make-up. Seriously, who’s ever heard of a shy drag queen!?
RuPaul doesn’t promise these performers the world on a plate. No, she offers them a slot performing on a cruise liner. That and princely sum of $100,000. The queens are expected to bring their own talents to the table and to show us how hard they can work them, rather than having to bow to the judges nit-picking advice and barely-hidden agendas.
But it’s not even that that’s got me hooked. It’s Sharon Needles herself.
Here’s the other major lie of reality TV, one that is getting thinner and more see-through as the years go by, and turning off more and more fans of the genre. The lie that they actually produce stars. Seriously, in the ten years now that reality TV has dominated the airwaves, it has yet to produce one genuine superstar. One performer or personality that you can tell will still be around and claiming the spotlight once the promotional budget has run out or the new series has started. Well, step forward Sharon Needles.
Needles (real name is Aaron Coady) is a 31-year-old performer based in steely-grey Pittsburgh, a punk-rock goth queen who exudes wit and warmth and always looks simply phenomenal. Aaron describes Sharon as being “beautiful, spooky and stupid” and she quickly went from being Drag Race‘s rank outsider to head of the leader board, winning a record four challenges with a style that is equal parts Donatella Versace and Lux Interior (Sharon quotes Amanda LaPore and GG Allin as her drag idols.) She is television gold. Seriously, this is the first time I have ever watched anything like this and actually thought “Wow - this person really does deserve to be superstar.” It’s a slightly strange sensation, and is exactly what has made this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race so captivating.
Needles is not a queen without controversy, either. Within the world of drag Sharon is seen as a freak because she does not conform to “fishy” standards (looking convincingly sexy as a female) and even though she looks fantastic she has had to struggle to prove her worth to the other Drag Race contestants, not to mention to audiences and venues in her native Pittsburgh. But Sharon’s outsider/underdog status has actually worked in her favor. In the insular, catty scene of drag and female impersonation, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that to the straight world grown men dressing as girls is always going to be seen as freaky, no matter how fishy they are. Sharon’s open embracing of her own beautiful freakishness has endeared her to audiences both gay and straight alike.
Sharon’s outsider status has also brought to the fore stories of Aaron’s childhood bullying and social exclusion, from not only the straight world but also the gay scene itself. Aaron is an eloquent speaker against discrimination and bullying of all kinds, and Sharon’s warm acceptance of all of nature’s little oddities is a refreshing change from mainstream gay society’s focus on the shallow beauty of the image. In an era of institutionalised discrimination against homosexuals, where the battle for our basic human rights is still very much happening, Sharon Needles is the unlikely hero that we need. That we ALL need, regardless of gender, orientation, color or any of that. If you’ve ever felt even a little bit at odds with society and its relentless conformity, Sharon Needles is the fierce bitch for you.
A genuine one-off with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to burn, Sharon Needles is a true star. In fact, she’s exactly the kind of contestant you don’t see on reality TV shows because they are just too good! And that’s why we here at Dangerous Minds would like to throw our full support behind her in the race to become America’s Next Drag Superstar.
VOTE NEEDLES 2012.
This video is a compendium of Sharon Needle’s best moments in the earlier stages of Drag Race, mixed with performance footage from the streets and bars of Pittsburgh:
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo TV, and the winner of Season 4 is announced on Monday.
Bowie Myths has posted what appears to be legit (yet illicitly obtained) excerpts from the upcoming coffee table book, BOWIE: OBJECT, wherein the Thin White Duke rhapsodizes on a few dozen of his favorite thangs.
Exhibit #22, a Minimoog:
Eno gifted this keyboard to me at the end of our sessions for the album that would become Low at the Chateau d’Herouville in the fall of 1976.
The tilting control panel is truly iconic, the wood finish superb, the feel of the dials top-notch, and the 44-key (F to C) keyboard is a delight — it certainly beats any vintage Model D I’ve played for both speed and responsiveness. Though it weighs in at a hefty 18kg, its ergonomics are quite superlative. At its inception, the Minimoog was surprisingly close to being the perfect solo synthesizer; indeed there’s arguably no serious rival for the role even today. Yet soloists demand to express themselves and there the Mini had obvious shortcomings: its keyboard lacks velocity and aftertouch, while the pitch-bender and modulation wheels never felt like the final word in performance control. Nevertheless, without becoming lost in the enigma that is the Minimoog, let’s agree that it must have possessed special qualities to set it apart from the crowd for so long — even from others in the Moog stable.
Moog had constructed his own theremin as early as 1948. Later he illustrated the mechanics of a theremin in the hobbyist magazine ‘Electronics World’ and offered the parts in kit form by mail order which became very successful, albeit of limited value to even the most esoteric composers. The Moog synthesizer, on the other hand, was one of the very first electronic musical instruments to be widely used across many popular genres. I only met Bob Moog on one occasion and we bonded not over music, but over the common mispronunciation of our respective surnames. Bob always pronounced his surname – and that of his eponymous electronic progeny – to rhyme with ‘vogue’.
The motifs for all of the instrumental sequences on Low were mapped out on this Minimoog. My fading memories of those sessions are dominated by images of Eno hunched over the keyboard turning dials by imperceptible fractions, as amazed and delighted by the sonic textures he was producing as were Tony V and myself:
“Do you know it has a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse-triggering signal?” said Eno, breathlessly.
I’ve been saying this for over a decade, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious with each passing year: The Republican Party, no matter what they do or how they position themselves, are basically toast after the 2012 election. Long predicted demographic trends that doom the GOP as a national majority party by 2016, are here NOW. And there is really nothing much they can do about it at this point.
Unless, of course, in November they take the White House, the Senate, hold on to the House and then ram thorough laws revoking the voting rights of anybody save for old white people who watch Fox News. If not, they’re fucked. and I mean fucked fucked. They know it, too.
There’s a not-so-silent subtext that comes through loud and clear in virtually all of the Republican messaging this year: “We’re desperate. Help us cement a wealthy Caucasian oligarchy in place before it’s too late and our way of life is finished!”
What are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest? Hispanics, women and young people. Who are Republicans pissing off the most? Latinos, women, and young people.
It’s almost as if the GOP can’t help itself.
Start with Hispanic voters, whose electoral heft keeps growing as they comprise an ever-larger portion of the electorate. Hispanics now favor President Obama over Romney by more than two to one, according to a recent Pew poll.
The movement of Hispanics into the Democratic camp has been going on for decades. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Replicating California Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s disastrous support almost twenty years ago for Proposition 187 – which would have screened out undocumented immigrants from public schools, health care, and other social services, and required law-enforcement officials to report any “suspected” illegals. (Wilson, you may remember, lost that year’s election, and California’s Republican Party has never recovered.)
The Arizona law now before the Supreme Court – sponsored by Republicans in the state and copied by Republican legislators and governors in several others – would authorize police to stop anyone looking Hispanic and demand proof of citizenship. It’s nativism disguised as law enforcement.
Romney is trying to distance himself from that law, but it’s not working. That may be because he dubbed it a “model law” during February’s Republican primary debate in Arizona, and because its author (former state senator Russell Pearce, who was ousted in a special election last November largely by angry Hispanic voters) says he’s working closely with Romney advisers.
Hispanics are also reacting to Romney’s attack just a few months ago on GOP rival Texas Governor Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition at the University of Texas for children of undocumented immigrants. And to Romney’s advocacy of what he calls “self-deportation” – making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants and their families that they choose to leave.
As if all this weren’t enough, the GOP has been pushing voter ID laws all over America, whose obvious aim is to intimidate Hispanic voters so they won’t come to the polls. But they may have the opposite effect – emboldening the vast majority of ethnic Hispanics, who are American citizens, to vote in even greater numbers and lend even more support to Obama and other Democrats.
And that’s just some of the ways the Republicans have gotten into hot water with Hispanic voters. Reich goes on to catalog more of the ridiculous missteps the GOP has made in recent memory when it comes to women and young voters. He concludes with a rhetorical question that he bluntly answers:
How can a political party be so dumb as to piss off Hispanics, women, and young people? Because the core of its base is middle-aged white men – and it doesn’t seem to know how to satisfy its base without at the same time turning off everyone who’s not white, male and middle-aged.
That’s it, in a nutshell, isn’t it? What a shitty balancing act to be forced into, but they did it to themselves. The key demographic, the slice of America that the GOP depends on the most is aging white people, especially older men, the same folks who still subscribe to newspapers and listen to talk radio. A demographic that is literally dying off.
Where will all the new Republicans come from to replace the old farts that are croaking in ever increasing numbers with each passing day/week/month/year? (I’d like to see some kind of time-lapse Koyaanisqatsi-esque visual treatment of that human erosion, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t that be emotionally satisfying? I sure think it would be!)
So if you find yourself wondering why the overweening message coming from the GOP is so apocalyptic and why the rhetoric has turned so toxic in recent years, wonder no more, this election does indeed represent an apocalyptic turning point for the GOP. On a conscious level, they have to know this, but on a subconscious level, it also goes some way towards explaining the barely concealed racist and nativist undercurrents to the GOP message this year. This is a national election they can’t afford to lose, but fully expect that they will lose, just the same, so the language becomes more and more shrill and fantasies of forged birth certificates (or impeachment) become the last threads they can grasp at.
It’s pathetic, but I have no sympathy for them. The far-right in America is a lost cause, but luckily for the rest of us, one that’s clinging by its fingernails, demographically speaking.
Like I said, this time, they’re fucked fucked. Sit back and witness the real-time implosion of the Grand Old Party in 2012. It’s been a long time coming, but that long predicted future is now.
A young, pre-world domination Jack White with Meg White.
Five days before the most prolific man in rock and roll’s new album Blunderbuss is set to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Jack White, who has never had a number one record, will broadcast a live stream of his show at New York’s Webster Hall tonight (April 27) directed by Gary Oldman.
Frank Zappa discussing television, sin and language on Canadian TV show The Day It Is in 1969.
“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” ~ Frank Zappa.
The 1983 documentary UK/DK: A Film About Punks And Skinheads features some great live performances from The Exploited, Disorder and The Adicts, among others. It does a solid job of capturing the tail end of the British punk scene as it was being supplanted by hardcore and the pop elements in the music replaced by something faster, more aggressive and humorless.
Featuring lively interviews with band members, journalists and fans… and lots of Crazy Color and mohawks. One of the better documentaries on the subject I’ve seen.
Exploited – Fuck The USA
Vice Squad – Stand Strong Stand Proud
Adicts – Joker In The Pack
Blitz – New Age
Business – Blind Justice
Adicts – Viva La Revolution
Varukers – Soldier Boy
Chaos UK – No Security
Disorder – Life