Velour at RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2017.
Alexander Hedges Steinberg
June 25, 1987
Berkeley, California, U.S.
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|Education||Vassar College (BA)|
Center for Cartoon Studies (MFA)
|Occupation||Drag queen, artist|
|Known for||RuPaul's Drag Race (season 9) winner|
|Predecessor||Bob the Drag Queen|
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. Velour is known for winning the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2017.
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. Her mother served as the Managing Editor of the Slavic Review.
Steinberg graduated from University Laboratory High School in Champaign-Urbana in 2004. 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.
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. She received an MFA in Cartooning in 2013 from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. Prior to pursuing drag as a full-time career, Steinberg worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
Steinberg's drag career as Sasha Velour started in Vermont while at school. 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. Velour's makeup and look transformations have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, and Billboard. Steinberg has further created, produced, and organized different photoshoots, collages, and drawings that discuss art and drag.
Steinberg's comics and illustrations have appeared in The Nib, InkBRICK, Comics Workbook Magazine, QU33R, Cicada Magazine 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.
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. 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.
Steinberg founded Velour, The Drag Magazine (originally named Vym), a bi-yearly publication about drag, alongside partner Johnny in the summer of 2014. 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. 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.
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.
Velour tried out for RuPaul's Drag Race's eighth season, but was not selected for the lineup. 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. 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. Her lip sync was later referenced on Saturday Night Live, during Kate McKinnon's impression of Elizabeth Warren.
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. Steinberg attended Rihanna's fourth annual Diamond Ball in September 2018.
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.
On December 7, 2018 Steinberg participated in The Long Conversation at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
As of 2013[update], Steinberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with partner John Jacob Lee (also known as Johnny Velour) and their pet Italian greyhound, Vanya. Steinberg is genderqueer and does not have any preferred pronouns when not in drag. Her drag persona, Sasha Velour, is referred to as 'she'.
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.
|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|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sasha Velour.|