One of only a handful of queens representing weekly drag in Westchester, voluptuous vixen Sasha Renee is more than ready for her closeup.
Thotyssey: Hello Sasha! Thanks for chatting with us today! I understand you’ve been out of town for awhile, how was your trip?
Sasha Renee: Hi! Thanks for reaching out. Yeah, I was gone for a bit. The trip was great! Some of my travels was for vacation, and to attend Miss Black America for the first time ever. I got to see some of our country’s best black drag queens and female impersonators compete. It was amazing to finally meet some people in person that I’ve spoken to online, and to reconnect with others.
Have you competed in pageants at all?
I’ve only done two pageants: Miss Big Apple Plus some years ago in Long Island, and another year I ran for Miss Stonewall.
Two essentials! Might you do another pageant in the future, or are you holding out for Drag Race?
I may consider a pageant, but I want to make sure my package is tight for each category. And I haven’t been holding out for Drag Race because I’ve never auditioned / sent in a tape. I’m close friends with some of the girls (I’ve worked with quite a few of them before they were on), so I’ve had some first-hand accounts of what it’s like to be in the show.
Where are you from originally, and were you always a performer of some sort?
I’m from the Bronx, but have lived in seven others states and two other countries.
My dad is a minister, so I grew up playing music in church. I play six instruments, so music is a big part of my life. I also was a dancer (hip-hop, salsa, merengue, and bachata) growing up. When you grow up in NYC as a kid surrounded by so many cultures, you learn a lot; you pick up on everything from language to food to cultural traditions.
How did you discover drag, and become a queen yourself?
It’s funny… as a kid, I used to love dressing up as my favorite movie characters, superheroes, and TV personalities. Back then there wasn’t a name/term for it. Now it’s called “cosplay.”
I used to do drag for Halloween in high school, but it was more of “prank” drag (think Madea); glam wasn’t really my goal. My senior year of college, I was asked to be in the college’s first ever drag show. So, my debut performance was in front of over 1,000 people: my professors, teammates, friends, etc.
After that show, I started getting offers to perform locally, and also for charity events. So after graduating from college, I started taking it more seriously, and working on different looks.
Have you had any performing experiences during your career that stand out as amazing, or that you just remember fondly?
Oh wow! So many! I’ve been around for a while, so I’ve had some wonderful opportunities. Many of the most exhilarating experiences have been the opportunities to perform in other countries; some of my favorite places to perform have been in Costa Rica, Spain, and Mexico. I also had a blast in December of 2019, when I opened for Eureka O’Hara in Honolulu one night.
That must have been a Ki! How might you describe Sasha today as a performer, and the looks she serves, to the uninitiated?
I’d say that Sasha today as a performer is sophisticated, sultry, soulful, and accurate. I’m old school, so I’m all about nailing the words and emotion that the lyrics call for.
My looks vary, depending on the occasion. You might see me in a gown, or you might see me in a body-hugging outfit to show off my curves. I’m nicknamed “the Glamazon” because I always serve body! I’m always curvy, with boobs, and am 6’1″ out of heels–so I’m generally, at least 6’4″ in drag.
I don’t do drama–I’m all about making sure that it’s good vibes. People come out to support us, so we owe it to them to put on a good show. As for other performers, it takes a lot to prep for a show, so I acknowledge their hard work and want us to have a good time performing.
Tell us a bit about Westchester drag today! It’s alive and well, but exists largely in “straight” spaces because there currently aren’t any queer venues in the county.
Well before I get into the state of Westchester drag today, I have to give a shout out to Rhoda Rollins Stone–she was the queen that introduced me to the Westchester drag scene. I was used to driving from my place down into the city to perform at Stonewall, Boots & Saddle and some other places. I met Rhoda down in the village one night. Soon, she was performing with me in Rebecca Glasscock’s Stonewall “Invasion” shows. When Rhoda found out that I lived uptown, she invited me to her shows. So, without Rhoda, I may not have ever become a part of the Westchester drag scene.
The Westchester drag scene is one that is fighting for longevity and consistency. The queer spaces have come and gone over the years, so it’s been hard for queens to call a place “home.” Yes, girls have to perform in “straight” venues. But that’s okay… as long as there is a culture of respect, love, and inclusion there.
I’m fortunate enough to call Guapo Mexican Cuban Cuisine in Yonkers home. I co-host “Dining with Divas” on Tuesdays with Kitty Ka’Boodlez. The show was started almost four years ago by Angel Elektra and Shay D’Pines; I think that it’s currently the longest running drag show in Westchester county. When Angel and Shay moved to South Florida this past fall, they bestowed their co-hosting responsibilities upon Kitty and me.
Before that, I was their special guest the first Tuesday of every month. I also love being able to bring in queens from down in the city, New Jersey, and other parts of Westchester County to entertain our patrons. Many patrons don’t feel like taking the long trip down into the city for shows, so it’s nice to be able to bring talent up to local community.
I think that an important key for longevity is support from the local community. We love, thank, and appreciate all of the patrons that come on out on Tuesdays to have dinner and attend our shows.
I see it’s Kitty’s birthday show this Tuesday.
Yes! I need to run around after work tomorrow to get some special stuff for Kitty… we will decorate the restaurant to honor her.
And it looks like the show’s original hostesses Angel and Shay will be back in town to join you two at Guapo for a special show on June 10!
It will be so great to have them back. I’m currently working on some special stuff for that show. [“Dining with Divas”] has survived what I hope is the worst of the pandemic, has provided a place for local talent to perform, and to have something for the queer community in Westchester County… that should certainly be celebrated. I’m hoping that as the weather gets warmer, people will come out and continue to support the show on Tuesday nights. It’s a cool vibe: good food, good drinks, and good people!
Anything else is coming up for you?
Well, over the years I’ve gotten more into the fashion scene (plus-size fashion, to be specific), so I have some upcoming fashion events out of town where I’ll make appearances, walk the red carpet, and sit front row at some cool fashion shows. I also have some upcoming performances outside of New York, and I will do some readings for Drag Queen Story Hour in the next few months.
All amazing! Okay, lastly: what is your best advice for a brand new queen on the scene today?
I’m going to give the same advice that I was given: “Be a sponge. Soak up as much info and advice as possible. You might not apply all of the advice; you have to do what’s best for you. But listen, listen, listen.”
I would also add that queens should know their history. I see a lot of young queens thinking that they are the best thing since sliced bread, but they have no idea of the history of drag (especially in NYC) and they lack respect for the older girls that came before them and paved the way.
And lastly, be true to yourself as a performer. Perform what’s in your heart. If you do that, you’ll be around for a long time. If you are doing what’s trendy for likes and followers, you’ll be here today and gone tomorrow.
Thank you, Sasha!