Sasha Velour’s 'Nightgowns': How a drag queen revolutionized stage and identified herself through sufferings

Her iconic finale lipsync to 'So Emotional' by Whitney Houston won her the title that season


                            Sasha Velour’s 'Nightgowns': How a drag queen revolutionized stage and identified herself through sufferings
Sasha Velour (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Sasha Velour is a name that will be remembered for a long time especially because of one moment from Season 9 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race'. Her iconic finale lipsync to 'So Emotional' by Whitney Houston won her the title that season. But there is much more to Sasha than just that.

Sasha is a gender-fluid drag queen and visual artist who creates new boundaries for drag and new spaces where LGBTQ artists can grow. From producing her own live monthly revue in Brooklyn, appearing on RuPaul's Drag Race, to her solo show 'Smoke & Mirrors', Sasha has come a long way. 

And now, she is set to embark on a new journey that is adapted from her widely loved and popular monthly revue known as 'Nightgowns' that first started out in 2015 in Brooklyn. Sasha has been serving as the host, director, and in-house lighting designer of 'Nightgowns' even before she could appear on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'. And now, Quibi, America's first bite-sized mobile-only streaming service, will premiere with their own series revolving around the eclectic 'Nightgowns'. 

The eight-episode series will feature her creative work with a unique ensemble where they will create a lip-sync performance of their dreams. But Sasha's journey to reach where she is wasn't an easy one, especially being a gender-fluid drag queen. Just like a rainbow after a storm, Sasha turned her difficulties into something more rewarding.

Sasha Velour attends Teen Vogue Summit 2018: #TurnUp - Day 2 at The New School on June 2, 2018 in New York City (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Sasha (Alexander "Sasha" Hedges Steinberg) began her career in drag when she was in high school in Vermont. Known for being out of the box, she incorporates that into her drag persona. In an interview with Out and About Nashville, Sasha opened up about how she didn't believe that there was a place in the world for someone like her. "I tried very hard to change myself, to fit — and even still being comfortable as a gay person — I really had to fight to negotiate my queerness.  And drag for me is the triumph of really being at peace with that side of myself.  I don’t regret any of the struggles and the back and forth and the self-discovery."

Continuing she said, "But if there was a way to expedite that in any way, and to tell my younger self that genderfluid and gay as all hell and being a total drama queen as you are, is good enough — and is in fact quite special — then I think things would have gone a lot easier." 

Through drag, Sasha realized her fluidity and began to identify herself as a gender-fluid drag queen.  She shared that it's easier to find the truth when you take a step out of reality and find a fantasy that you feel is more truthful.

"It helped me connect to other people better and taught me a lesson about who I really am. But, the thing I have learned is that I have no fucking clue. I am still trying to discover how I identify and I think that’s normal because we’re not surrounded by a great variety of models for what is ‘normal’. So, we have to figure it out and hopefully be bold and public enough that anything we discover can help others," she revealed during an interview with Dazed Beauty.

Though all might be going well for Sasha now, the gender-fluid drag queen still looks out for the other drag entertainers. She even invested all her prize money from 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 9 into 'Nightgowns' turning it into what it is now; one of the most admired drag shows in the world. Through it all, the drag queen shared that there's still a disconnect between what one sees on stage and the real experiences on the street.

In the same interview with Out and About, she shared, that the disconnect is the most difficult part identifying as genderqueer/genderfluid. "I get to live a life of theater now. And so that has made me much safer than I was previously.  And I thank my lucky stars every day for that. But there’s still a disconnect seeing people in my community, people who present gender just in the way that I do being in danger. And I think that is what makes it hard sometimes to put on the makeup and get on the stage."

Though she is still trying to discover how she identifies herself, Sasha shared that it's normal. But while on the process of figuring it out, one should be bold enough to help others with what they discover.

But through all the difficulties there's even a rewarding side to it. For Sasha, the rewarding part of it is being able to live authentically. "There’s a sense of community for living and presenting in non-binary ways, whether that is non-binary, fluid, genderqueer, or genderfuck.  There’s so many.  The community is broad and we’re all very different from each other, but it’s so helpful to see other people who want to not follow necessarily binary stories for their own gender."

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