Sasha Velour is a beloved, gender-fluid American drag queen, visual artist, speaker, illustrator, actor, stage and television producer, and newly minted author. People everywhere flock to Velour for her iconic looks, flawless makeup techniques, and innovative and provocative drag aesthetics. Among her many accomplishments, Sasha created and starred in the one-queen drag spectacular, Smoke and Mirrors, which Forbes calls a “spellbinding tour de force” that traveled to over 80 countries around the world from 2019-2022, including the a sold-out London Palladium. She also founded the New York City drag show, Nightgowns, hailed by New York Times and was later adapted into a docu-series. In 2017, she was featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race where her legendary performance of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” helped her bring home the win.
Crafting together real life stories with rich queer history, The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag is a celebration of an expressive art form and the ways it has revolutionized over time. As Sasha Velour uncovers her life and journey as a drag queen, she weaves herself into the history of it, revealing how she learned the craft while bringing substance to our understanding of queer liberation.
The Book I……
I last bought/am currently reading: The Critics Daughter by Priscilla Gilman, who was my favorite English professor in college! It’s such a beautifully written memoir—I keep learning from her.
I recommend to everyone: The Arrival by Shaun Tan. Still one of my favorite graphic novels. It is for all ages, and has no words. It captures the experience of immigrating to a new home. Really stunning.
That was my favorite to read last year, and why: Togetherness by Wo Chan (who I first met as drag queen “The Illustrious Pearl”). It’s the first book of poetry that has really resonated with me. They use familiar language in arrangements that feel very unexpected and linger with you long after.
Whose author I would love to have lunch with: Miss Fury author Tarpé Mills. The first superhero comic written and drawn by a woman, based off her own life and appearance. She seems like such a character, with an eye for fashion and an evil cat (who she also put in the comics). I’ve tried to emulate and reference her drawing style so many times in my own work, so I have lots of questions for her!
That made me realize language had power: Trans Liberation by Leslie Feinberg, a collection of essays from different queer activists. It changed my life and helped me understand drag as a political art.
I’d like to see adapted to the screen: Babel-17 by Samuel Delaney—my favorite science fiction novel. It would probably be almost impossible to translate to the screen (but since it’s partly about the difficulty of translation that could be perfect!)
That made me laugh out loud—or cry—while reading it: I always laugh when I read stories by Saki. My Grandmother Josephine introduced me to him. She had a collection of his works and starred her favorites in the table of contents. I agree with her that “Laura” is one of his best. It’s dark and campy and totally readable even though it’s from the early 1900s!
That has the most gorgeous cover: Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin! The iconic photo is perfect, and the large size of the book only adds to it.
With the best opening line: Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok. The first line is: “The days that I feel most beautiful are the days that I am most afraid.” Like always, Alok’s phrasing is so provocative and really keeps me thinking!
Bookstore that I frequent/is my favorite: Bluestockings Cooperative Bookstore is my go-to in NYC!
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