Urbana native, Uni alum wins Season 9 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

Urbana native, Uni alum wins Season 9 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

URBANA — The winner of Season 9 of "RuPaul's Drag Race" is an Urbana native and 2004 University High School alumnus. Sasha Steinberg, 30, who lives in the Brooklyn borough of New York, rose to the top as Sasha Velour, an "amateur drag historian" with brains.

Besides having competed on "RuPaul's Drag Race," which airs on VH1, Steinberg stars in and produces a monthly drag cabaret, "Nightgowns," in Brooklyn, and co-founded Velour, a magazine about drag art and culture. Originally, the magazine was called Vym; Steinberg and partner John Jacob Lee launched it in Champaign in 2015.

Steinberg is not trans. During a 2015 interview with The News-Gazette, he described himself as a "plain old cisgender gay" boy. He said then that drag, at its heart, "kind of laughs in the face of identity, specifically the limitations of gender.

"So just in the act of changing the way you look, in terms of gender, there is a questioning of the rules ... and there is a kind of radical freedom in designing your own identity in drag, and that's something that inspires people again and again," he said.

As Sasha Velour, Steinberg is known for performing bald but with makeup and hats; he told RuPaul he shaved his head in tribute to his mother, Jane Taylor Hedges, who died of cancer in June 2015. Steinberg's father, Mark, is a history professor at the University of Illinois.

Topics (2):People, Television