Reality check: Drag queen Needles roots for Alaska


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If Sharon Needles is a Queen of Darkness, does that make boyfriend Alaska the royal consort?

Needles, who captured the oh-so-glittery crown on Season 4 of Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race" last spring, will be following her favorite show in January with more than a rooting interesting.

Logo released the names of the 14 Season 5 contestants earlier this week, a list beginning with Pittsburgh drag queen Alaska, aka Justin Honard. Although an all-stars edition is currently under way, fans of the show are more likely to be compelled by this latest go-round. Turns out teamwork -- the all-star edition features pairs of queens competing against each other -- isn't nearly as much fun as the tried-and-true format.

At stake this season is a top prize of $100,000 and a headlining spot on the "Drag Race" tour. There are other awards along the way, including trips, gowns, Colorevolution makeup and costume jewelry.

Host and executive producer RuPaul Charles is quoted in a press release: "As we start our fifth season, I'm thrilled to announce that Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, Nikki Minaj and Keith Urban will not be joining us as full-time judges."

Regulars on the judges panel will be familiar faces: Michelle Visage and Santino Rice.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" embraces multiple digital platforms, including Twitter, where fans can follow Alaska @Alaska5000.

Soon enough, viewers learn who will "Shante! Stay!" or "Sashay away."

• Reality shows love to mess with contestants by creating temporary teams, but the idea of tattoo collaborating is nothing new. Pittsburgh's Sarah Miller, however, was paired with Clint Cummings on a good-versus-evil challenge that set everyone's teeth on edge on Spike TV's "Ink Master."

While the three other teams got to work on separate tattoos (each artist did one arm, etc.), Ms. Miller and Mr. Cummings were asked to work on the same large back design. Getting into each other's way was just the half of it.

They created the image of a statuesque warrior in conflict with a devil, which judges picked apart.

For the first time this season, Ms. Miller landed in the bottom three, along with Mr. Cummings and fellow contestant Mark Matthews. Based on this week's challenge and other weak, previous efforts, Mr. Matthews was eliminated.

Being in the hot seat didn't sit well with the two saved artists. Mr. Cummings railed to the judges that his display of dark and light wasn't all that bad, while Ms. Miller gave a teary-eyed, impassioned plea not to be sent home.

An online video preview (www.spike.com) of this week's flash challenge shows Ms. Miller trying to rally after the bad experience. As she and the others work on burning images into the chaps of some urban cowboy bar honeys, she declares "I didn't come here to lose. It's first place and then all the rest are losers."

Fan voting at the site will help determine the Season 2 winner. The finale, which will be broadcast live from New York City, is Dec. 18.

tvradio

Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published November 24, 2012 5:00 AM


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