Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors Is Coming to Town
Pulling back the curtain on this one-queen show, in Austin Oct. 22
By A. Micah Mills,
10:30AM, Fri. Oct. 11, 2019
Three years ago, a bald, twenty-something, Brooklyn drag queen was sitting in her Austin hotel room where she submitted her audition tape for a reality TV drag competition. Fast forward to today: Sasha Velour, now considered drag royalty, is back in Austin with her one-queen production – crown and scepter not included.
The season nine victor of the Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race described her theatrical drag tour Smoke & Mirrors – traveling to 23 North American cities including our very own on Oct. 22 – to Qmmunity as “part bootleg magic show, part sexy self-help seminar, and part melodramatic performance art, but all smoke and mirrors.” At the heart of the show though, is a queen using her drag, artistry, and platform to pull back the curtain and bare her soul through a slew of makeup, corsetry, and, of course, heels.
As the show’s name implies, the crowd’s left wondering what’s scripted, what’s improved, and what’s real, because the inspiration for Smoke & Mirrors was born out of what Sasha describes as a “disaster.” One night, while performing Barbra Streisand’s “Gotta Move,” technical difficulties ensued, but Sasha, giving herself over to that drag magic, turned water to wine and worked the audience to pull off a great show. To most queens and kings, mishaps translates into the “show must go on” attitude, but for Sasha it created an opportunity to make art. Looking back, Sasha says, “every now and then things would just go off the rails. Which is one of the fun things about going to a drag show. … I wanted to learn the lesson from those impromptu things and bring that into” what’s become Smoke & Mirrors. And, just like any good piece of art, the show is meant to be interpreted by what the viewer needs to take from it – whether that be a boost of confidence or a little act of rebellion.
Flourishing a-very-Valour flare into her 13-song setlist, Sasha pays homage to powerhouse legends, including Judy Garland, Nina Simone, and Celine Dion. Drawing inspiration – and borrowing bits and pieces – from these icons, Sasha breathes new life into her interpretations that are anything but straight(forward). Along with her powerful setlist, the show boasts a stellar production quality, and a Diego Montoya wardrobe, but the true intricacies and beauty of Smoke & Mirrors is rooted in its ability to address taboo subjects like depression, grief, and queer identity in a candid way. Incorporating not-so-easy, everyday circumstances gives the production meaning and depth. “Somehow, through drag we become superheroes who can say the most honest things imaginable in a microphone and people are receptive to it,” Sasha admits. “That’s a pretty powerful equation.”
But it’s not all Smoke & Mirrors for this drag superstar. Sasha is paving her legacy not just in the drag community, but into mainstream culture. The last two years of successes are a reflection of her life post-Drag Race and how the show allowed her to make her greatest passion into a successful career. Sasha isn’t wasting a second of it. Her latest and greatest venture debuts in April 2020. Taking on the role of executive producer, Sasha teamed up with new streaming platform Quibi and legendary music video director Sophie Muller to create Nightgowns, an eight-part behind-the-scenes-documentary-meets-lip-sync spectacular showcasing a drag community beyond cis men.
Because, at the end of the day, her community is near and dear to her heart, which is why Sasha is offering “queen seats of the house” to local drag performers at each of her shows. She hopes this encourages those community drag leaders to be recognized as celebrated fixtures in their own cities. “I want to remind the audience to look around them, be aware of the people in their community, support them and give them resources, money, and attention. Local drag scenes really need it.”
Sasha has taken her drag near and far, but Qmmunity is excited to see her bring it back to Austin! And, don’t worry! We confirmed that rose petals will be making an appearance in the show. You’re welcome.
Sasha Velour performs Smoke & Mirrors at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Doors open at 7pm; tickets range from $20-153 and are available online. And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the teaser trailer, below, too!