On Tuesday Lindsay and I went to see Sasha Velour‘s Smoke & Mirrors show at the Danforth Music Hall. I didn’t really know what to expect — all I know was the famous Whitney Houston lip sync that Lindsay showed me when she was on Drag Race.
I was pretty blown away though, especially by the second half. The combination of a few great songs for the lip sync and the visuals felt like something I hadn’t seen before, and that gave me pretty visceral thrills at a few points. I mean, I get that I’m hardly an expert at drag revues, but Sasha dancing to Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” backed by in-tux video Sashas was one of the cooler things I’ve ever seen on stage.
The Now Toronto review, while complimentary of some areas, called the visuals “obvious” and the show beholden to “the standard for drag […] set by Drag Race“, and I can see that, even though I think there has to be some audience service for what brought that big a crowd out in the first place. But the obvious (and even sweetly ragged at times, like during the Judy Garland number) visuals and choreography was part of what I admired about the show. Like, this growing pain of stepping onto a huge stage. This Herculean effort to bring a creative vision and narrative to life in the face of what I can only assume are ridiculous and frustrating barriers, not to mention logistical challenges. This pulling along of that TV audience into something more substantive, even if it wasn’t as substantive as it might have been. (Is it ever?)
To me it felt like bootstrapped brilliance. Like an artist who felt compelled to get this show out of them and into the world for everyone to see.
To me those will always be the best kind.