My night with Sasha Velour

My night with Sasha (Or, my first drag show)

I know I owe you guys the next part (of many) of my Cebu trip, but I wanted to get this one out of the way first. I just had an amazing time at an event where I never thought I’d have a blast: a drag show.

If you had asked me 10 years ago to a drag show, I probably would have said no, though not for some nefarious or close-minded reason. I felt the same way about drag shows then as I do about most Marvel movies now: they don’t particularly interest me, so why should I watch? (I say “most” because I watched Black Panther on my nephew’s birthday and loved it)

But last year, my sister got me to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I actually got hooked. Yep. Me, a boring thirty-something introverted homebody. Before I started watching, all I knew about drag is that they’re men who dress like women and dance. Then I discovered how artistic they actually are, from the make-up to the costumes. And funny. Very, very funny.

I started with the seventh season, then the eighth, then we went back and watched all the past ones. Then came Season 9 and one of my favorite drag queens (yes, I have favorite drag queens), Sasha Velour.

Born Alexander Hedges Steinberg, Sasha won her season of RPDR, but that’s not why I like her (I was rooting for her from the start). She’s not just beautiful; she’s also smart (a graduate of Modern Literature at Vassar College and a Fulbright Scholar), a creative designer (she designs all her avant garde outfits and merchandise, publishes a drag-meets-art magazine, and is a Master of Fine Arts at The Center for Cartoon Studies), a talented performer, and can be funny too. I’m not her manager, I just think she’s amazing.

Since I started watching RPDR, I’ve scouted online and discovered that many of the queens have come to the Philippines, like Alaska Thunderfuck, Alyssa Edwards, Adore Delano, and Kim Chi. I actually began visiting Facebook accounts of famous drag bars in Manila to find out if any queens were scheduled to have a show here. Then I visited Nectar Nightclub’s Facebook page and saw it: Sasha Velour was coming to Manila. I told my sister and asked her if she wanted to go. Of course she did, so I bought GA tickets (I can’t afford a Php50,000 VIP table; leave me alone) for three (we dragged her husband along) and waited.

When we got to City of Dreams’ Chaos Nightclub, the line was long and full of colorful characters: people in face paint, rainbow skirts, crazy headgear, masks, and higher-than-high high heels. Both women and men. It was a joy to see, and if I wasn’t such a chicken, I would’ve taken photos.

My night with Sasha Velour
Here we go

Inside, the place was packed. I read somewhere that the place had a capacity of 2,000, so I’m going to guess that’s how many people were at the show. Before it even began, performances were already happening: members of the audience were trying to out-lip-sync, out-dance, and out-outfit each other. And you know how at concerts, you’d sometimes see the audience pass around beach balls? It happened here too, only they were blown-up condoms.

My night with Sasha Velour
A sea of people
My night with Sasha Velour
Occasionally, people were chanting for Sasha

Then, the curtains opened and the show began. Australian drag queen Maxi Shield hosted the show and introduced several local queens—all very talented and all deserving of applause. Then out came Sasha, and the crowd went crazy.

At this point, I’m switching to photo-essay mode just to give you a little taste of what happened.

Maxi Shield pumping up the crowd
My night with Sasha Velour
This queen brought death drops and cartwheels and splits, oh my
My night with Sasha Velour
Sasha Velour takes the stage with “Gotta Move” by Barbra Streisand
My night with Sasha Velour
This “Mariah Carey” had the real one’s singing mannerisms down pat
My night with Sasha Velour
Sasha’s second number, “The Man That Got Away” by Ella Fitzgerald
My night with Sasha Velour
Sasha performs Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” (with her boyfriend, Johnny Velour , as a backup dancer)
My night with Sasha Velour
Aptly closing the night with “I Am What I Am” by Gloria Gaynor
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Ending the number with a bang, literally
My night with Sasha Velour
So much love from the fans
My night with Sasha Velour
The equally talented Manila queens
My night with Sasha Velour
Sasha joining the other queens onstage
My night with Sasha Velour
My first and last time at Chaos (until the next drag show, maybe)

There were a lot of performances from other drag queens that I captured on my phone, but I had to delete many of them right there because my phone was getting full. Shout-out to Maxi Shield (and her “Like a Prayer” sing-along), Queen Vinas, Andy Crocker, Queen Jonah, OV Cunt, Baby Vivora, and Silhouette for a great night.

At this point, I’m also giving my sister props for getting me to watch the show. Here’s hoping we get to watch our other favorite performers soon (she: Katya Zamolodchikova; me: Bianca Del Rio).

And just in case these weren’t enough, I also edited together some of the footage I got from the show. Let me just say, I’m neither a videographer nor an editor so please be nice. Enjoy.

All images, unless otherwise stated, belong to eatplaylog.wordpress.com. If you want to share them, please include credit and a linkback. Thanks.

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