SAN DIEGO – West Coast fans who had the patience to ignore national news sites and social media that shared the winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” after it aired on the East Coast three hours earlier seemed pleased with RuPaul’s crowning of Sharon Needles as “America’s Next Drag Superstar.”
Native San Diego contestant Chad Michaels, who remains a fan favorite, was thought by many to be the natural winner, because of his style and look, performance ability, experience, and class on and off stage.
One Facebook user, who was making predictions a few days ago about who would win the contest, posted:
“While I think that Sharon Needles is awesome, I’m sure that RuPaul has to answer to his advertisers when making the decision, and Sharon might be a little too ‘avant-garde’ for Absolut’s taste,” the post said, referring to Absolut Vodka being one of the major advertisers on "RuPaul’s Drag Race."
That prediction ended up to be wrong.
At Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill in Hillcrest, the home of the weekly “official” viewing party for "RuPaul’s Drag Race," many fans seemed pleased with the decision.
Many expected to find out who was crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar” at last week’s show, which was originally set to be the season finale. At the end of the show, RuPaul surprised viewers by letting them know they’d have to wait another week to find out who won, during the “RuPaul’s Drag Race Reunion Show,” taped in front of a studio audience.
Last night’s show, which featured the return of most of Season 4’s contestants, gave viewers insight into some of the drama that happened during the season.
Contestant Willam returned to the stage to explain why he was disqualified from the competition earlier in season.
“What did Willam do?” RuPaul asked.
Willam explained that during the taping of the season, when contestants are supposed to be cut off from the outside world – even their closest of relatives aren’t supposed to know what they are doing -- her husband found her at the hotel where the contestants were sequestered and received regular “conjugal” visits.
Popular contestant Latrice Royale, who RuPaul bestowed the title of “Miss Congeniality,” told RuPaul that he does not regret being so open about his past in prison.
“[Being open] was the most liberating thing I did,” Royale said. “I never expected the outpouring of love I received, and am truly humbled. Doin’ me works!”
RuPaul announced that Latrice Royale will be joining the “faculty” of “RuPaul’s Drag U,” airing this June.
Halfway through the show, when RuPaul brought the three finalists on stage – Phi Phi O’Hare, Sharon Needles and Chad Michaels – the crowd at Mo’s gave roaring applause as Needles and Michaels were introduced. O’Hare was booed by many in the crowd each time he spoke.
In the moments leading up to the crowning, the show cut to a commercial break, and Mo’s played a taped message from Chad Michaels to his fans in San Diego. Michaels was in New York with his partner Adam Magee at a finale party.
“I wish I could be there tonight with you guys,” Michaels said. “I’m sending you my love and thanks!”
When asked what it would mean to be crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” Michaels told RuPaul:
“It would be like a personal test that I passed, would show me what I’m made of, and would justify all of the support I have received over the last 20 years. It would be an honor and privilege to represent 'RuPaul’s Drag Race.'
RuPaul told Michaels that he is a “class act” and thanked him for elevating the race to new heights.
In response to the same question, Needles said:
“When in doubt, freak it out and do whatever the f*** you want to. If anyone boos you off stage, just remember, that is actually applause from ghosts.”
Ultimately, Needles was crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar” and the crowd at Mo’s went wild with applause. Some booed Needles – lovingly -- in response to her statement.
Atticus Linaweaver of San Diego said he was at the taping of the reunion show days earlier, and was surprised to learn who won the competition.
He said that during the four-hour taping, each of the three finalists was crowned as winner, so that studio audience members would not spoil the surprise.
Reactions were mixed.
In a tweet to his fans, Chaz Bono wrote: “@RuPaulsDragRace: Best season yet! I loved @ChadMichaels1, Miss Congeniality @LatriceRoyale, and Americas new drag superstar @SHARON_NEEDLES.”
Downtown San Diego resident Joseph Sims, who watched the show with his San Diego American Flag Football League team, was rooting for Chad Michaels.
“Chad! Amazing work on Drag Race! You will forever be our Queen! Thanks for representing and being fierce! We love you,” Sims posted.
Immediately following the show, local entertainer Paris performed a number for the crowd and in the middle of her performance encouraged the crowd to start chanting “Chad! Chad! Chad!”
One fan, who said his name was Joseph and had just left the viewing party at Mo’s, was walking down Third Avenue with friends loudly proclaiming, “Needles! Needles!” He said he was a Sharon Needles fan all along.
Urban Mo’s will host a welcome home party for Chad Michaels next Monday night, May 7. Fans are invited to celebrate with Michaels, and recognize how far he went in the contest.
Urban Mo’s is located at 308 University Ave. in Hillcrest.
For more information about “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or the upcoming Season 5, click HERE.
Last night's reunion show