On Friday night, a new American monarch rose to power beneath a cascade of rose petals, a cracked mask and the ballads of Whitney Houston.
But she didn’t just use the glamour, comedy, acting and lip syncing prowess that fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race have come to expect from America’s Next Drag Superstar. Sasha Velour relies on brains.
When the 30-year-old queen is at home in Brooklyn, N.Y., she produces and stars in a monthly drag cabaret event called Nightgowns. She co-founded Velour, a magazine spotlighting lesser-known styles and issues in drag. She received an MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies and studied political art as a Fulbright Scholar in Moscow.
She also considers herself an “amateur drag historian,” acknowledging there have always been different schools of drag — all competing, warring, pushing the art in new directions.
But for Velour, her style comes from simultaneously paying tribute to the queens who came before her and blocking out any voices that might try to dictate what her drag should be.
“I want to do something that is not just a pastiche of drag that’s come before, but is really authentically me,” she said. “I try to tune out all the drag that’s out there and tap into the drag that I was doing when I was a little kid — when I didn’t even know the word ‘queer’ or that gay people were out there. … Tapping into the things I’ve always loved and building a drag that honors those.”
[…] I have to tell you, even at my young age I have found myself in relationships that I knew had no future. I knew I wasn’t in love with a guy. I knew I wasn’t gonna fall in love with a guy. He wasn’t in love with me. He wasn’t in love with me, but I stayed with him. Why? Because it was comfortable. It was nice to have someone sitting next to you on the couch loading the bong while I search Netflix. It’s nice. But a marriage of convenience will always end in heartbreak, especially if it never ends. You think I’m crazy. So if you find yourself in a relationship and you know it’s going nowhere, don’t be afraid to get out of it, cause here’s the thing: it’s like we’ve been conditioned to believe that we are all looking for our other half, which implies that we are all half people and so we are all in a relationship, but you’re not half people. You’re all whole. We are all whole fucking people. So, if you have to be single, it’s not a bad thing. There’s a lot of power in that, because if you just end up in a relationship just because it’s comfortable, you’ll find yourself one day down the road wish you would have gotten out while you had the chance.