This larger than life stage performer was newly a New Yorker and had a sweet gig booked before Covid came a-coming. But now to our great benefit, she’s giving this time to her fabulous drag persona,the electrifying Sasha VanGuard!
Thotyssey: Hello Sasha! Thanks for chatting with us today! So, how is Halloween month treating you so far?
Sasha VanGuard: It’s been great! This is honestly my favorite time of the year because of my birthday… but most importantly, the fall season. We love a sweater moment!
Happy Birthday! Do you generally celebrate it in a ghoulish way?
I don’t! I did celebrate at my shows the week of, but that’s about it! I am trying to incorporate in some glamour spook looks for the upcoming shows this month in celebration of spooky season!
So, where are you from originally, and how did you begin as a performer?
I’m originally from Louisiana! I moved here at the end of January. Perfect timing, I know, lol! I began performing at a very early age in TV and film first and I hated it, so I transitioned to theater around 10 or 11.
Oh, wow! What do you recall hating about TV and film?
I found myself going to so many auditions as a kid, and constantly being told by my agent that casting directors would tell her “I wanna see him again in six months because his performance quality is too big!” And that confused me because I felt like it wasn’t big enough, lol! So I told my mom that I wanted to do Broadway, because I remember watching Tony award clips on YouTube and seeing people perform how I performed for the first time ever… and winning awards for it. I’ve been working professionally as a musical theater performer and dancer since I was about 17!
I guess you can never be “too big” on the Broadway stage! Is that what brought you to NYC?
It is, actually! I came here and started auditioning almost immediately, and booked a cruise ship the day before the shutdown happened. And then the day of the shutdown, I got confirmation that it wouldn’t be happening due to COVID-19. But I’m here to stay and twirl, and always seizing every occasion!
COVID has been so destructive to the industry. Can you believe that indoor theater will not resume here until at least next summer?
It’s so crazy to me, but I’m not surprised at all. I’m thankful to have drag during a time like this, for sure. It keeps me sane, and it’s a great way to get my creative juices flowing.
How did Sasha get born?
So, I was actually in a Production of Spamalot in 2015! I’d just graduated high school, and the director came to me and said “we love you and want you in the show, but… we don’t know if you’ll agree.” So I’m thinking, “oh, great! They like me, but want me to be a pretend assistant to the choreographer and not really be in the show,” literally assuming the worst case scenario… as I do! But they actually wanted me as a Laker Girl, which is a heavy dance female ensemble track! I sat on it for about three days because I’m from a very southern town. I didn’t know what my mom was gonna say, or how to tell her that they wanted me to play a girl for an entire musical for a month. I had also just come out, like, a year and a half before… so in southern time, that’s still fresh news basically, lol!
Long story short, I said yes! And I didn’t come up with a name until the show was getting ready to close. I knew I liked Beyonce, so I wanted “Sasha” for sure. But not “Sasha Fierce,” because when you hear that you instantly think “Bad Ass Bitch.” And I may occasionally be that kinda girl, but I’m also very goofy and timid at times… and kinda flirty! I wanted to choose something that kinda makes you think is she Bossy, Sweet, Both, or a some sort of surprise?
So I chose Sasha VanGuard, because “vanguard” means a group of people leading the way with new developments. As drag artists, that’s what we do. We show people every day that there are so many things the queer community is capable of, whether it’s singing, dancing, acting, running for city council, being advocates on national television, etc.
How have you enjoyed being a queen in the city so far?
It was genuinely the grind when I first got here! I think I did a competition show in Manhattan almost every night of the week… just trying to be seen and get my name out there! And then quarantine happened, so we all went digital for a large portion of time. I tried to stay very active through social media as much as I could! And now I’m in two weekly shows–so in my eyes it paid off, for sure! Every queen I’ve met here so far as been so uplifting and supportive, and I’m thankful for the girls I’ve been surrounding myself with.
Tell us a bit about the shows you’re involved in, starting with the one in Brooklyn!
So I actually was approached by my good sis Janae SaisQuoi, Charlotte Harlot, Jupiter Doll, and Lucia Fuchsia! I did a guest spot for a few weeks with the Dolls there, and I was messaged again about three weeks ago and they asked me to join the cast permanently! It’s every Wednesday at 9pm at Now And Then Bar! 290 Meserole Street in Brooklyn!
And you have also been part of an interesting and popular recurring show in the parking lot of the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria! “Dears In The Headlights” features Gina Tonic, Marilyn Monhoe and yourself, and it returns Sunday at 3pm with two guest performers: Uncle Freak and Trash Ketchum!
“Dears in Headlights” is the greatest time! Gina is such a gem, and Bel Aire has been so damn sweet to us, and our shenanigans! We do a drive-in drag brunch in Astoria with outdoor seating available in front of the stage, and cars park and watch the show as well! This show is more theater-based and live singing, and the audiences have a blast week after week! It’s such a great time!
Can’t wait! Anything else coming up for you?
That’s about it! Just having a blast at the weekly shows, and continuing to make music videos for Instagram–keeping the video vixen specialty alive!
Werq! Okay, lastly: as a fairly young queen who’s already made a huge mark on the scene, what would your best advice be for a drag baby who’s just getting born tonight?
I would tell them, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice. And, don’t compare what you have to offer and your progress and to anyone else’s!
Thanks Sasha, Happy Birthday and Happy Halloween!