Haus of Haunt
Text JF. Pierets Photos Caldwell Linker
The Haus of Haunt is the Pittsburgh based drag troupe around Sharon Needles, a self-described “stupid genius, reviled sweetheart, and PRB princess,” rose to prominence on the 4th. season of the reality competition series, Ru Paul’s Drag Race. She quickly became a favorite and media darling, lauded for her refreshing alternative “spooky” aesthetic and self-deprecating humor, and was subsequently crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar” in April 2012.
In The Haus of Haunt: Watch Children, photographer Caldwell Linker presents 120 Pages and over 200 photos, chronicling the Pittsburgh drag troupe. With pictures of performances, backstage, personal and ever day life moments, Linker gives us a valuable document of the Pittsburg queer scene over the past 4 years.
How did you end up in the queer community?
I guess I’m just drawn to folks similar to me, wanted to be around people with divergent gender identities, radical politics, a desire to create something new, folks with a different perspective, and a desire to live a different perspective. I’m queer, most of my friends are queer, I am attracted to queers… I love the queer community, and the people who are part of it. Sometimes things are hard, but there is so much joy, so much love, and laughter. Creativity and creation. Personally, I identify as queer because I don’t have a firm attachment to any particular gender. The people I am attracted to have a wide variety of divergent genders, and gender presentations.
Why make it the main subject of your photography?
Partially it’s a compulsion. I feel compelled to take pictures and I’m most comfortable taking pictures of the folks I know. Also, I think the queer community is incredibly important. I’ve been taking pictures for a number of years now. When I started, things weren’t getting documented and I didn’t want to see our history lost. I see so many people doing such amazing and creative things, I feel like it’s important to archive them. Also, I love color, and the scene is wonderfully colorful, and attractive.
Are you a part of the Haus of Haunt?
Depends on how you define Haus of Haunt. I don’t perform with the Haus of Haunt, but according to how Sharon and Alaska define Haus of Haunt, I would say I definitely am. They include many people other than just the performers; fans, photographers, folks who give everyone a ride, etc. I’ve been taking pictures of these queens for a number of years now.
‘I wanted to show people that they don’t need a lot to create something amazing.’
Why make a book on the subject matter?
When Sharon got on Drag Race – where they have been showing my book, by the way – I started working on it. When it became obvious that she was an instant hit with the fans, I started working. There was a lot I wanted to share about the Haus of Haunt. One of the things that attracted me to the performances is how they have been able to make so much out of almost nothing. I wanted to show people that they don’t need a lot to create something amazing.
Tell me everything about your upcoming show. What/where/when…
My show at The Warhol Museum opens June 14th. 2013. I’m still not sure how many pictures I’m going to use, probably somewhere around 50ish. The show focuses on the queer community of Pittsburgh. I’m trying to focus on themes that I see running through, things that we all experience, things that make us different and set us apart. And of course things that are part of the human condition that run through all of us. Unlike my Haus of Haunt book, the show at the Warhol is more focused on the day-to-day aspects of the queer community, instead of performance.
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