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Sasha Velour

Sasha Velour
Sasha Velour (cropped).jpg
Velour at RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2017.
Alexander Hedges Steinberg[1]

(1987-06-25) June 25, 1987 (age 32)
ResidenceBrooklyn, New York, U.S.
EducationVassar College (BA)
Center for Cartoon Studies (MFA)
OccupationDrag queen, artist
Years active2009–present
Known forRuPaul's Drag Race (season 9) winner
PredecessorBob the Drag Queen
Partner(s)Johnny Velour

Alexander "Sasha" Hedges Steinberg (born June 25, 1987), also known by the stage name Sasha Velour, is an American drag queen and artist, based in Brooklyn, New York.[2] Velour is known for winning the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2017.[3]

Early life and education

Steinberg was born in Berkeley, California, the only child of Mark Steinberg and Jane Hedges. She is of Russian Jewish descent on his father's side. He was raised in Connecticut until the age of 9 when the family moved to Urbana, Illinois, where her father is a Russian historian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.[4] Her mother served as the Managing Editor of the Slavic Review.[5]

Steinberg graduated from University Laboratory High School in Champaign-Urbana in 2004.[6] After high school, she spent time as a part-time security guard at the Russian State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and interned at the Staatsoper (State Opera) in Berlin, Germany.[7][8]

Steinberg obtained a BA in Modern Literature from Vassar College in 2009. In 2010, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Moscow and completed a project that aimed to understand the role of different art forms in contemporary Russian society.[9] She received an MFA in Cartooning in 2013 from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.[10] Prior to pursuing drag as a full-time career, Steinberg worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.[11]


Steinberg's drag career as Sasha Velour started in Vermont while at school.[12] Known for being an out of the box artist, Steinberg incorporates that eccentricity into Velour's drag persona. Steinberg starred in the music video C.L.A.T. along with fellow New York City drag queens Peppermint, Aja and Alexis Michelle, who also appeared on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race.[13] Velour's makeup and look transformations have been featured in publications such as Vogue,[14] Cosmopolitan,[15] Vanity Fair,[16] and Billboard.[17] Steinberg has further created, produced, and organized different photoshoots, collages, and drawings that discuss art and drag.[18]

Comics and design

Steinberg's comics and illustrations have appeared in The Nib, InkBRICK,[19] Comics Workbook Magazine,[20] QU33R,[21] Cicada Magazine[22] and others, under the names Sasha Velour and Sasha Steinberg. Steinberg also created a series of comics entitled "Stonewall", which told the story of the Stonewall riots from multiple viewpoints. The series was called "a smart, beautiful and artful take on a significant and difficult historical event" by Highlow Comics.[23]

A solo gallery show of Steinberg's illustration work, "Nightrooms", was held at the Black Box Gallery in Brooklyn in March 2016 and Steinberg's cut paper work was part of the group show "Coney Island Babies, Visual Artists from the Brooklyn Drag Scene" at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division that opened in Manhattan in November 2012.[24] In March 2017, Steinberg designed a long sleeve T-shirt for "Contemporary Drag", a limited-edition fashion line for the New Art Dealers Alliance's (NADA) in collaboration with Print All Over Me.[25]

Velour, The Drag Magazine

Steinberg founded Velour, The Drag Magazine (originally named Vym), a bi-yearly publication about drag, alongside partner Johnny in the summer of 2014.[26] Steinberg serves as the magazine's artistic director. The first issue ("What is Drag?") was released June 2015 and the second issue ("Realness") was released in October 2016.[27] The magazine includes interviews as well as varied art forms such as photography, poetry, and illustration that address the power, beauty, and purpose of drag.[28]


Since August 2015, Velour has produced Nightgowns, a monthly drag show in Brooklyn. The events have been regularly hosted at Bizarre Bushwick and National Sawdust. The shows have been celebrated as "beautiful and funny and politically charged" by The New York Times.[29]

Velour at RuPaul's DragCon NYC, in 2018.

RuPaul's Drag Race

Velour tried out for RuPaul's Drag Race's eighth season, but was not selected for the lineup.[30] In March 2017, she was announced as one of 14 contestants on the ninth season of the show. In June 2017, Sasha Velour was crowned the winner of the season.[31][32] Allison Shoemaker of The A.V. Club named Velour's lipsync to Whitney Houston's "So Emotional" in the season finale as the best TV performance of 2017.[33] Her lip sync was later referenced on Saturday Night Live, during Kate McKinnon's impression of Elizabeth Warren.[34][35]

After Drag Race

Following Drag Race, Steinberg continued to work as a drag queen and expanded into the fashion industry. They selected 40 LGBT+ models to walk for Opening Ceremony in the 2018 New York Fashion Week.[36][37][38] Steinberg attended Rihanna's fourth annual Diamond Ball in September 2018.[39][40]

At the end of 2017, Steinberg's artwork of German singer-actress Marlene Dietrich was used as a Google Doodle on the performer's 116th birthday on December 27, 2017. Steinberg had previously impersonated Dietrich on Drag Race in the "Snatch Game" challenge.[41]

On December 7, 2018 Steinberg participated in The Long Conversation at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.[42]

Personal life

As of 2013, Steinberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with partner John Jacob Lee (also known as Johnny Velour) and their pet Italian greyhound, Vanya.[43] Steinberg is genderqueer and does not have any preferred pronouns when not in drag. Her drag persona, Sasha Velour, is referred to as 'she'.[2][44]

Steinberg has a shaved head. As Sasha, she often performs in drag bald as a tribute to her mother, Jane Hedges, who died of cancer in 2015 and had lost her hair during treatment for the disease.[26]



Year Title Role Notes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself (Contestant) Season 9 (Winner)
2019 Broad City Herself Guest Appearance
2019 Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Drag Queen Guest Appearance
2019 The Bold Type Drag Queen Guest Appearance

Web Series

Year Title Role Notes
2017 Untucked Herself Season 9

See also


  1. ^ "Mother: Sasha Velour". Night Out. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "about". Sasha Velour. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  3. ^ Lasher, Megan (July 27, 2018). "11 Things You Didn't Know About "RuPaul's Drag Race" Winner Sasha Velour". Seventeen. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "Mark D Steinberg | Illinois Department of History". Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Obituary for Jane Hedges at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Merli, Melissa (June 8, 2015). "Studio Visit: Sasha Steinberg and John Jacob Lee". News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  7. ^ "Sasha Velour". Grizzly Kiki. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "Inside Sasha Velour's Talmud of Drag". The Forward. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Fulbright Program in Russia | "Lost in Translation: The Theory and Practice of Experimental Translation"". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "Congratulations to RuPaul's Drag Race Winner Sasha Velour '13!". The Center for Cartoon Studies. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Logo (April 24, 2018), 'The Reigning Queen' Out Of The Closet w/ Sasha Velour Ep. 1 | Logo, retrieved May 7, 2018
  12. ^ "On Point With: Sasha Velour". Thotyssey!. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 9 Queens From NYC Team Up for 'C.L.A.T.' Video: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "Sasha Velour From RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 on Her Style Icons and Winning the Title". Vogue. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  15. ^ "You Have to See Sasha Velour's Stunning Makeup Transformation". Cosmopolitan. June 13, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  16. ^ Desta, Yohana. "RuPaul's Drag Race Winner Sasha Velour on That Shocking Finale and the Britney Spears Stunt You Didn't See". HWD. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "Rock the Look: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Finalist Sasha Velour is a Master at Recreating This Iconic Look". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  18. ^ "Home". Sasha Velour. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  19. ^ BRICK, INK. "INK BRICK – From "What Now" by Sasha Steinberg in INK BRICK..." INK BRICK. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Comics Workbook Magazine #2 by Frank Santoro, Andrew White, Zach Mason, Warren Craghead III, Lala Albert, Whit Taylor, Jen Rickert, Derek Badman, Evie Cahir". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Past Exhibitions". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  22. ^ "Artist Allies: Sasha Velour". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  23. ^ "Thirty Days of CCS #3: Sasha Steinberg". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  24. ^ "Strange Loop Gallery Hosts The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division Pop-Up Shop : BGSQD | The Bureau of General Services – Queer Division". Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  25. ^ "NADA x PAOM: Contemporary Drag collection | MADE". MADE. February 23, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Merli, Melissa (June 27, 2017). "Urbana native, Uni alum wins Season 9 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race'". News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  27. ^ Nichols, James Michael (October 22, 2016). "This Beautiful Drag Magazine Is Providing A Comprehensive Guide To 'Realness'". HuffPost. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  28. ^ "About". VELOUR | The Drag Magazine. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  29. ^ Piepenburg, Erik (June 23, 2016). "It's Gay Pride Weekend: Dress the Part". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  30. ^ Rudolph, Christopher (June 29, 2017). "Sasha Velour on Being Picked For 'Drag Race': "I Was Shocked I Got On"". NewNowNext. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  31. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Winner Sasha Velour Cut From A Different Fabric". NPR. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  32. ^ "Sasha Velour From RuPaul's Drag Race on Her Style Icons and How to Be a Queen". Vogue. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  33. ^ Shoemaker, Allison (December 26, 2017). "Looking for the performance of the year? Watch 2 minutes of RuPaul's Drag Race". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  34. ^ []
  35. ^ []
  36. ^ "INTO: A Digital Magazine For The Modern Queer World". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  37. ^ "A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Show-Stopping Moments of New York Fashion Week". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  38. ^ Dennis, Ethan. "Top 3 NYFW collections". The Hawkeye. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  39. ^ McCarthy, Lauren. "Rihanna Hosted a Wild Black-Tie Ball for a Good Cause". W Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  40. ^ "Issa Rae, Normani and More Stars Talk Rihanna's Influence at Diamond Ball". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  41. ^ Roberts, Amy. "You've Been Seeing 'Drag Race' Winner Sasha Velour's Artwork All Day & Didn't Even Realize". Bustle. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  42. ^ "Smithsonian brings together big thinkers — from Alfre Woodard to Sasha Velour — for a 'long conversation'". Washington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  43. ^ "Sasha Velour Talks Vym, a Magazine Spotlighting the 'Revolutionary' Art of Drag". Bedford + Bowery. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  44. ^ Velour, Sasha (February 10, 2017). "Thank so much for asking @glassarmy! For my Velour self—always she/her (out of drag its even less binary lol...any will do) #genderqueer". @sasha_velour. Retrieved March 19, 2018.[non-primary source needed][non-primary source needed]

External links