Sasha Velour

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

(1987-06-25) June 25, 1987 (age 33)
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), 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[edit]

Born in Berkeley, California, Steinberg was raised in Connecticut until the age of nine when her family moved to Urbana, Illinois. Steinberg is the only child of Mark Steinberg, a scholar of Russian history and Professor in the Department of History at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Jane Hedges, who served as Editor at Yale University Press and Managing Editor of the Slavic Review.[4][5] She is of Russian Jewish descent on her father's side, and identifies strongly with her father's faith.[6]

Steinberg graduated from University Laboratory High School in Champaign-Urbana in 2004.[7] 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.[8][9]

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.[10] She received an MFA in cartooning in 2013 from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.[11] Prior to pursuing drag as a full-time career, Steinberg worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.[12]


Drag and RuPaul's Drag Race[edit]

Velour tried out for RuPaul's Drag Race's eighth season but was not selected to participate.[13] In 2017, she competed on and ultimately won the ninth season of the show.[14][15] Allison Shoemaker of The A.V. Club named Velour's lip sync to Whitney Houston's "So Emotional" in the season finale the best TV performance of 2017.[16] The lip sync was later referenced on Saturday Night Live, during Kate McKinnon's impression of Elizabeth Warren.[17][18] In June 2019, a panel of judges from New York magazine ranked Velour 12th on their list of the top 100 stars to come off of Drag Race.[19]

Following her time on the show, Velour continued to work as a drag queen and expanded into the fashion industry. She selected 40 LGBT models to walk for Opening Ceremony in New York Fashion Week 2018.[20][21][22] She attended Rihanna's fourth annual Diamond Ball in September of that year.[23][24] At the end of 2017, Velour's artwork of German singer-actress Marlene Dietrich was used as a Google Doodle on the performer's 116th birthday on December 27, 2017. Velour had impersonated Dietrich in the Snatch Game challenge on her season of Drag Race.[25] On December 7, 2018, Velour participated in The Long Conversation at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.[26]

Velour starred in the music video "C.L.A.T." alongside fellow New York City drag queens Peppermint, Aja and Alexis Michelle, all of whom also appeared on the ninth season of Drag Race.[27] Velour's makeup and look transformations have been featured in publications such as Vogue,[28] Cosmopolitan,[29] Vanity Fair,[30] and Billboard.[31]

Illustration and graphic design[edit]

Steinberg's comics and illustrations have appeared in The Nib, InkBRICK,[32] Comics Workbook Magazine,[33] QU33R,[34] Cicada Magazine[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

Velour, The Drag Magazine[edit]

Steinberg founded Velour, The Drag Magazine (originally named Vym), a bi-yearly publication about drag, alongside partner Johnny in the summer of 2014.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41]


Since August 2015, Steinberg 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.[42] In 2020, Steinberg starred in her own Quibi show, NightGowns, which follows Velour across eight episodes as she transforms Nightgowns into a full-blown stage act.[43]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2013, Steinberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with partner John Jacob Lee (also known as Johnny Velour) and her pet Italian greyhound, Vanya.[44] 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][45]

Steinberg has a shaved head. As Sasha, Steinberg 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.[39]



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

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked Herself Season 9
2020 The Pit Stop[46] Herself Season 12, Episode 1
2020 NightGowns Herself Quibi original
2020 The X-Change Rate[47] Herself Guest

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Giving Body Category Work Results Ref.
2020 The Queerties Drag Royalty Herself Nominated [48]

See also[edit]


  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. ^
  7. ^ Merli, Melissa (June 8, 2015). "Studio Visit: Sasha Steinberg and John Jacob Lee". News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "Sasha Velour". Grizzly Kiki. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "Inside Sasha Velour's Talmud of Drag". The Forward. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "The Fulbright Program in Russia | "Lost in Translation: The Theory and Practice of Experimental Translation"". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "Congratulations to RuPaul's Drag Race Winner Sasha Velour '13!". The Center for Cartoon Studies. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Logo (April 24, 2018), 'The Reigning Queen' Out Of The Closet w/ Sasha Velour Ep. 1 | Logo, retrieved May 7, 2018
  13. ^ Rudolph, Christopher (June 29, 2017). "Sasha Velour on Being Picked For 'Drag Race': "I Was Shocked I Got On"". NewNowNext. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  14. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Winner Sasha Velour Cut From A Different Fabric". NPR. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "Sasha Velour From RuPaul's Drag Race on Her Style Icons and How to Be a Queen". Vogue. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Valby, Karen (October 13, 2019). "Saturday Night Live: Bow Down to Kate McKinnon's Elizabeth Warren". Vanity Fair.
  18. ^ Smith, Reiss (October 14, 2019). "Kate McKinnon served Sasha Velour and Elizabeth Warren realness on SNL and it's everything". PinkNews.
  19. ^ The Editors (June 10, 2019). "The Most Powerful Drag Queens in America: Ranking the new establishment". New York. Archived from the original on June 10, 2019. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  20. ^ "INTO: A Digital Magazine For The Modern Queer World". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  21. ^ "A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Show-Stopping Moments of New York Fashion Week". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  22. ^ Dennis, Ethan. "Top 3 NYFW collections". The Hawkeye. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  23. ^ McCarthy, Lauren. "Rihanna Hosted a Wild Black-Tie Ball for a Good Cause". W Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Issa Rae, Normani and More Stars Talk Rihanna's Influence at Diamond Ball". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  25. ^ Roberts, Amy. "You've Been Seeing 'Drag Race' Winner Sasha Velour's Artwork All Day & Didn't Even Realize". Bustle. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  26. ^ "Smithsonian brings together big thinkers — from Alfre Woodard to Sasha Velour — for a 'long conversation'". Washington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  27. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 9 Queens From NYC Team Up for 'C.L.A.T.' Video: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  28. ^ "Sasha Velour From RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 on Her Style Icons and Winning the Title". Vogue. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  29. ^ "You Have to See Sasha Velour's Stunning Makeup Transformation". Cosmopolitan. June 13, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ "Rock the Look: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Finalist Sasha Velour is a Master at Recreating This Iconic Look". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  32. ^ BRICK, INK. "INK BRICK – From "What Now" by Sasha Steinberg in INK BRICK..." INK BRICK. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  33. ^ "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.
  34. ^ "Past Exhibitions". Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  35. ^ "Artist Allies: Sasha Velour". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  36. ^ "Thirty Days of CCS #3: Sasha Steinberg". November 3, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  37. ^ "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.
  38. ^ "NADA x PAOM: Contemporary Drag collection | MADE". MADE. February 23, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Nichols, James Michael (October 22, 2016). "This Beautiful Drag Magazine Is Providing A Comprehensive Guide To 'Realness'". HuffPost. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  41. ^ "About". VELOUR | The Drag Magazine. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  42. ^ Piepenburg, Erik (June 23, 2016). "It's Gay Pride Weekend: Dress the Part". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  43. ^ Nolfi, Joey. "Watch Sasha Velour lead drag revolution in NightGowns Quibi series teaser". Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  44. ^ "Sasha Velour Talks Vym, a Magazine Spotlighting the 'Revolutionary' Art of Drag". Bedford + Bowery. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  45. ^ 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]
  46. ^ Bob The Drag Queen & Sasha Velour Recap the Premiere | The Pit Stop S12 E1 | RuPaul’s Drag Race. VH1. February 29, 2020. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  47. ^ The X Change Rate: Sasha Velour & Jan Sport. BUILD Series. April 23, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  48. ^ "'The 2020 Queerties". Cheat Sheet. February 28, 2020.

External links[edit]