Sasha Velour is a gender-fluid drag queen and visual artist. Through multi-media performance, advocacy, and design, Velour’s work maps out new frontiers for drag and creates new spaces for LGBTQ artists to flourish and thrive.
Velour came to national attention in 2017, when she won season 9 of the Emmy-winning reality TV competition RuPaul's Drag Race, which was nominated for an additional 8 Emmys that same year. Her finale lip-sync to “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston was called “the performance of the year” by the AV Club and named one of “TV’s Best Musical Moments on Television” by Entertainment Weekly, and contributed to an increase in streaming plays of the song by 500% that summer.
Her live performances have been called “an entirely new level of performance art” (Yahoo) and “heart-wrenching” (Billboard). She has pioneered the use of projection mapping in lip-synch drag performances, and is known for combining emotional pathos with theatrical stunts. Her first solo show, Sasha Velour: Smoke and Mirrors, begins its 2019 tour in January in Australia.
Velour invested her Drag Race prize money back into “Nightgowns,” the monthly drag show she had been producing since 2015 in Brooklyn. Serving as its host, director, and in-house lighting designer, Velour has turned Nightgowns into one of the most esteemed live drag shows in the world, dubbed “[the] thinking queens drag show” by Time Out NY and “eclectic, wild and highly personal” by Billboard Magazine. Nightgowns has been produced in New York, London, and Los Angeles. The monthly appearance at National Sawdust in Brooklyn continues to sell out within minutes, exposing thousands of fans to forms of drag not seen on TV.
In September 2018, Velour collaborated with Opening Ceremony to produce, direct, and host their Fall Fashion showing, better known as “The Gift of Showz," a piece of drag theater inspired by Nightgowns, in which Christina Aguilera appeared as the special guest star. TIME raved that it "won't soon be forgotten,” and the New York Times called it “the brand’s…most radical [presentation] yet…a celebration of personality, camp and performance.”
Velour’s studio and illustration work has been the subject of 2 solo gallery shows in New York (2014 and 2016). In 2017, she drew the Google Doodle of Marlene Dietrich. She is the creative director (and graphic designer) of the art magazine “Velour” (now released in hardcover Collector’s Edition), which celebrates the art of drag through visual art, poetry, photography, and essay.
Velour frequently uses her platform to discuss politics, queer history, and LGBTQ+ issues. She was billed as a keynote speaker at the 2018 Teen Vogue Summit in New York City. In December 2018, she will take the stage at The Smithsonian for “The Long Conversation,” an event with thought leaders from around the world.
Velour is the only child of Mark D. Steinberg, a professor of Russian History at University of Illinois (aka “Papa Velour”) and Jane T. Hedges, an editor, who died of cancer in 2015. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her partner Johnny and their Italian Greyhound Vanya.