Smile Politely

Urbana’s own Sasha Velour is on the cover of The New Yorker

The recent cover of the New Yorker featuring art of Sasha Velour, an bald drag queen with a black mohawk. Velour is wearing a black high neck jacket, has bright red lips, pink eyebrows, exaggerated black eyeliner, and large turquoise earrings. Her pinky is touching her teeth. The background of the cover is hot pink.
Sasha Velour on Instagram

I’m a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and an even bigger fan of drag superstar Sasha Velour — former Urbana-resident and the winner of the ninth season of the show. I regularly pull up her iconic Whitney Houston lip sync to relive that incredible reveal. For the entire first week after it aired, I watched it constantly and made everyone I know watch it (seriously, if you haven’t seen it before, stop what you are doing right now and watch it).

For those not already familiar, Velour moved with her family to Urbana as a child, and graduated from University Lab High School. Her father is Professor Emeritus Mark Steinberg, a Russian history professor who taught at the University of Illinois before he recently retired, and her mom, Jane Hedges, was a former managing editor of Slavic Review, an academic journal based at U of I.

Sasha Velour lays on stage, propped on one arm. She is in an all white bodysuit, and her face is also painted white. Large streaks of neon paint are across the floor and her bodysuit.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Velour has had amazing success in her drag career since winning Drag Race. I was fortunate enough to see her incredible show Smoke and Mirrors live at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts back in 2019. Most recently, she is on the cover of The New Yorker. A talented graphic artist, Velour also did the cover art for the issue. You can read her full interview with them online, and also check out her new book The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag.

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