Inspiring men and women alike, Sasha Velour, the avant-garde drag queen, is our muse this April at Rug Lane
For centuries, the thrones have been ruled by (fairly) stiff, likeminded families across Europe. Take Ol' Lizzie for example, a monarch, somewhat radical in her own ways, but still very much representing the history of the British Royal Family. Since 2009 RuPaul's Drag Race has been giving us a new family to follow, a family of queens that are both groundbreaking and inspiring. The show has graced the screens of millions across the world, bringing the art of drag to the mainstream and opening people's eyes to the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent it takes to strut your stuff and the art of a tuck. Each year there is one queen that tends to stick out amongst the contestants, whether it's her keen eye for fashion, her humour, her obscurity or her lip syncing abilities. Sasha Velour of Season 9 was no exception.
Sasha Velour developed from old Hollywood glamour. Alexander Hedges Steinberg, aka Sasha Velour, often talks about dressing up in women's clothes and costumes from the age of about 4. Loving evil and strong female characters, Alexander would dress up as anything from the Wicked Witch of the West to Lady Macbeth. Starting Drag "officially" around the age of 21 while studying in Vermont, Sasha is known for her obscure, artistic and out of the box drag. She spoke on the show how surprised she was at peoples open-mindedness to her drag in the competition and how going into it she was willing to really fight to justify herself and her choices. It was that semi final wig-filled-rose-petal lip sync that really brought her home the crown amongst a tough final 4 battle.
Growing up of Russian Jewish descent on her father's side, Alexander came from an academic family. Alexander got a BA in Modern Literature and then went on to be a Fulbright Scholar in Moscow in 2010 and completed a project that aimed to understand the role of different art forms in contemporary Russian society. Alexander then received an MFA in Cartooning in 2013.
What Sasha bought to RuPaul's workroom was grace, maturity and a positive and uplifting vibe. No stranger to working hard, Sasha is the founder and creative director of Velour: The Drag Magazine, a bi-yearly publication she started in 2014 with her partner Johnny Velour, all about drag. Sasha has been producing the critically-acclaimed monthly drag show "Nightgowns" in Brooklyn since 2015 where she produces and curates some of the best drag in theatre. She also works as a visual artist, having created illustrations for Google Doodle, and has published work in Posture, Cicada, The Nib, QU33R, and Comics Workbook Magazine, among others.
For Alexander, gender is a construct. In an interview with Glitterazzi Productions in 2017, Alexander says "For me gender is a story and it is a language that we have to speak in some way in order to be understood by other people out in the world. It also like, has some connection with our bodies and how we ultimately want to interpret them and what kind of stories we want to tell about them and so, being a real living person is all about, for me has always been about, negotiating between how I see myself and how I interpret my own body and how I can present it in ways that are familiar and ultimately likeable to others because we want to connect with people." Sasha goes by she, but out of drag, Alexander is non conforming to gender constructs and will go by any pronoun.
And...we couldn't possibly write a piece about Sasha without mentioning her overly loveable pooch Vanya Velour (@vanyavelour). The Italian greyhound staring in her very own "Vanya Velour's Drag Race Look Book", a 'Who Wore It Best' tribute to her drag mumma.