Alexander "Sasha" Hedges Steinberg (born June 25, 1987), also known by the drag name Sasha Velour, is an American drag queen, artist and creative director based in Brooklyn, New York. Velour is best known for winning the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, and for producing the monthly drag show Nightgowns, which takes place at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn.
Steinberg was born in Berkeley, California, the only child of Mark Steinberg and Jane Hedges. She is of Russian Jewish descent on her father's side. She was raised in Connecticut until the age of 9 when the family moved to Urbana, Illinois, where her father is a Russian historian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her mother served as the Managing Editor of the Slavic Review. The family later relocated to New Haven, Connecticut, when her father began teaching Russian history at Yale University.
Steinberg graduated from University Laboratory High School in Champaign-Urbana in 2004. 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.
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. She received an MFA in Cartooning in 2013 from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.
Her mother, Jane Hedges, died of cancer in 2015. Steinberg shaves her head and often performs in drag bald as a tribute to her mother, who lost her hair during treatment for the disease.
Steinberg currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with partner John Jacob Lee (known as Johnny Velour) and their dog, Vanya.
Steinberg's drag career as Sasha Velour started in Vermont while at school. Known for being an out of the box artist, Steinberg incorporates that eccentricity into Velour's drag persona. Steinberg starred in the music video C.L.A.T. along with fellow New York City drag queens Peppermint, Aja and Alexis Michelle, who also appeared on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Velour's makeup and look transformations have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, and Billboard. Steinberg has further created, produced, and organized different photoshoots, collages, and drawings that discuss art and drag.
Steinberg's comics and illustrations have appeared in The Nib, InkBRICK, Comics Workbook Magazine, QU33R, Cicada Magazine 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.
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, October 2016. 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.
Steinberg founded Velour, The Drag Magazine (originally named Vym), a bi-yearly publication about drag, alongside partner Johnny in the summer of 2014. 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. 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.
Since August 2015, Velour 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.
Velour tried out for RuPaul's Drag Race's eighth season, but was not selected for the lineup. In March 2017, she was announced as one of 14 contestants on the 9th season of the show. In June 2017, Sasha Velour was crowned the winner of the show, and is the current reigning winner.