How can a person elevate their drag beyond what’s expected? We seem to be saturated with drag queens at the moment — all shapes, all sizes, all backgrounds. That’s fantastic, but it has also lead to a certain amount of similarity between queens and their acts. The question remains: how does a performer go beyond a sickening lip synch or a fierce lewk, and reach for something deeper?
Luckily for Sasha Velour — crowned winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 — depth is not an issue.
Velour’s (first ever) one-queen show, Smoke & Mirrors, which debuted this past Thursday at New York Live Arts, presents a new way to couple drag with true conceptual performance art. The intensely personal production shows what a top-of-her-game queen Velour really is, both as an artist and as a storyteller. She takes her rapt audience through her experiences as a creative young person in New York City, determined to find peace, equilibrium, and freedom.
Playing out over two hours, two acts, and 13 distinct musical numbers, Smoke & Mirrors features enough technical wizardry and visual art to satisfy even the most invested diehards. Velour’s roster of artists on her playlist are as eclectic and endearing as the queen herself: Le Tigre, Judy Garland, Céline Dion, Nina Simone, and more make sonic appearances. Each number, coupled with the excellent production value from the House of Velour (the Brooklyn-based queer artist collective Sasha and her partner Johnny Velour lead) feels like a journey through a piece of Velour’s psyche — a glimpse into her dreams, into her memories.
Velour's (first ever) one-queen show, Smoke & Mirrors, which debuted this past Thursday at New York Live Arts, presents a new way to couple drag with true conceptual performance art.