If Sharon Needles weren't already wearing so much drag makeup, she'd be blushing.
Halfway through Season 4 of "RuPaul's Drag Race" (Mondays, Logo), Pittsburgh's Queen of Darkness is a bona fide success. Not only had she won two challenges and almost dragged another Monday from BFF Chad Michaels, but also she was stunned to discover "it seems I can do no wrong."
"It seems I am more beloved on a reality show from an extended cable network than I am in social circles in my own city," she said, laughing at the absurdity.
On the phone while riding to a show at Sugar Daddy's in West Virginia, she seemed stunned. "It sounds odd, but it's almost hard to find a piece of negative press about myself."
Becoming Miss Congeniality wasn't in the game plan when Sharon Needles, aka Aaron Coady, set off to tape the show in Los Angeles last summer. There are glam queens galore in the drag world, but Sharon Needles is a horror show.
"I represent a kind of underground, punk side of drag," she said.
But she quickly discovered that maintaining that persona, even when dressed as a post-Apocalyptic zombie, was too much. Sharon's still the dark side of drag, but behind-the-scenes cameras have captured a nicer side that can quickly turn into hilarious snark.
On the most recent show, the ladies went all out on a "Match Game" parody that saw the usual assortment of Lady Gaga and Diana Ross imitators. At the last minute, Sharon Needles ditched her plans to do Gaga and went instead with Michelle Visage.
Who happens to be a judge on the show. Way to endear yourself to the panel.
"When in doubt, freak 'em out," she said to the cameras, cackling.
"I just feel Michelle and I have this unworldly, bizarre connection," she said later.
Sharon Needles was a hit with the judges but lost out to Mr. Michaels, who was wearing a cut-out animal print unitard when the ladies hit the runway later in the program.
This led to one of the best fashion comments in the history of reality TV, as judge Santino Rice (of "Project Runway" fame) applauded the Cher impersonator's "giraffe realness."
Of course, Sharon Needles made her own statement. Her head wrapped in bandages and brandishing a fake hypodermic needle of collagen, she sashayed down the runway in a salute to extreme plastic surgery.
"It's just who you are, it's an exaggeration," she said.
And so far, it's been a hit.
• On "Top Shot" (History, Tuesdays), it was a Very Special shotgun episode. Who knew there were so many different kinds of shotguns? And that some work more than one kind of ammunition?
Although the Blue team did horribly in a team challenge and wound up sending home one of their own, Belle Vernon's Augie Malekovich was never on the proverbial chopping block (or firing range, as it were).
• The "Face Off" artists (Syfy, Wednesdays) had a particularly cool challenge: to create a character worthy of a Tim Burton film. Ian Cromer and Sue Lee, alums of Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, struggled but survived to sculpt another day.
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published March 3, 2012 5:00 AM