While Ireland has always been fond of its drag queens, from Mr. Pussy to Panti Bliss, a whole new generation have been gathering in droves (of fabulosity) to pay their utmost respects to the new wave of drag superstars... But one Queen reigns over all.
Until recently, Sasha Velour was the reigning champion of Ru Paul's Drag Race, the TV sensation that has brought drag to the mainstream. Miss Velour stands apart from the pack, however, for her sharp intellect (she's a Vassar grad and Fulbright scholar) and avant-garde leanings, given full-flight in her monthly Williamsburg drag show Nightgowns. Her sell-out Dublin appearances have already become the stuff of legend - at a recent show, a devoted Irish fan presented her with his college dissertation on her oeuvre.
Sasha @ NYFW Opening Ceremony. Photographed by Fernanda Calfat pic.twitter.com/KG683nilE1— Sasha Velour pics (@sashavelourpics) September 10, 2018
"The idea that people would be so deeply engaged with the kinds of things that I do and my performances and the thoughts that I put into my looks, and the words that I say - that is an incredible gift," she says. "I feel like this current generation, in these times, they're not focused on listening so much. It's great to have this platform. People fall in love with drag so deeply that they pay great and careful attention to it. And that is an incredible gift for me, personally, but I'm more concerned as to what it means for the (LGBTQ) community as a whole, and how that kind of love and support that I feel can be felt elsewhere. I hope that means that great things are coming - that we can listen to each other, can pay attention, and really work together.
These days, when Sasha isn't hosting a show-stopping catwalk extravaganza at New York Fashion Week, or hanging out with Rhianna, she's performing across the globe; this week, she returns to the capital for a show at the Tivoli Theatre. After years spent earning her chops on the drag circuit, she's enjoying the spotlight. "In many ways, the rollercoaster of my life has been consistent since I started doing drag," she says, "because drag is always a rollercoaster. All I've ever really wanted to do is throw myself into artistic creation, and getting to costume myself up as this fabulous, hyper-gendered creature and throw myself about on stage, laying all my passions and my feelings out for the audience, to be welcomed in the way I've gotten to experience over the past year, has been a rare gift. So no matter how tired I get, or how little I've slept, or how much my beard hurts from being shaved every day, I thank my lucky stars that I get to do what I do."
WATCH - Sasha Velour gets So Emotional during the Drag Race final:
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Her ever-expanding Irish fanbase hold a very special place in her heart. "The Dublin audience have been my favourite," she says. "They're engaged and respectful and loud, and plenty raucus - you need all those elements in a drag show. Dublin was my last appearance before I appeared in the live finale of Drag Race; we performed at The Olympia, and looked out the dressing room window and there the audience was, lined up in the alley outside waiting for us at the stage door - I had never had that experience in my life."
"At that moment, I was still operating under the idea that just getting people to turn up at the show was going to be a huge effort, like "Please come see my drag..." And that was such a turning point for me, to accept that this is a phenomenon that I get to be a part of - and in many ways, the Dublin audience gave me the power that I rode through that final crowning moment moment."
Sasha Velour is at the Tivoli, Dublin, on September 20th - more details here.