Why I Can Never Listen To Janis Joplin Again: Sasha Colby Leaves The Neptune Speechless


Author: Cameron Kidd

There is no other way to begin this article: Sasha Colby is phenomenal. I have seen a lot of drag – from clubs to stages, lip-syncs to punk bands. Some funny, some emotional, raw, sexy, weird, explosive, glittery, and all of them beautiful. Sasha Colby’s performance was every one of these things and transcended these things.

Sasha Colby at The Neptune Seattle 4/13

After being crowned the first trans and Native Hawaiian winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2023, Sasha Colby launched Stripped, her two-month solo tour with twenty-two destinations spanning North America. From what I had seen of Colby’s time on Drag Race, I expected the tour’s name to reference Sasha’s reputation for showing her body. In some ways, this was true. But what I did not expect, and what blew me away, was that in this performance, Colby reveals herself to the audience in a far more personal, emotional way, stripping layer after layer of her internal world. She takes you on her journey with her, from the well-earned triumph of being crowned Miss Continental in 2012 to tearful screaming in her bedroom. It is easily the most artfully vulnerable performance I have ever had the privilege to see, drag or otherwise.

In Stripped, Colby showcases her extensive dance training as a vehicle for her equally remarkable storytelling ability. The performance reads like an autobiography, guiding the audience through her journey in drag and her journey as a transwoman. Every number is a standout.

In one particularly interesting number, Colby and her two very talented backup dancers, dressed in close-to-identical contemporary dancewear that reflects the blue stage light, perform a roughly ten-minute modern interpretive dance to a recorded poetic monologue. Sasha’s voice accompanies the trio as they move across the stage, describing her experience as a transwoman in its conflict, beauty, and social context. The recorded words are every bit as beautiful as the dance. Being a trans-identifying drag enthusiast myself, the piece was incredibly moving. However, I can say confidently that everyone at The Neptune that night was awe-struck.

In another performance (and my favorite) Sasha sits at a table on stage alone. She removes her makeup, undoes her hair, and lip-syncs to Janis Joplin’s “Maybe.” Nothing else happens on stage – no fancy light choreography, no dancers, no theatrics. It’s all Sasha, and it is, in my mind, the most powerful number in the show. The amount of emotion that Colby was able to express on stage is incredible, and she needs nothing but herself to do it. There is no way to describe the impact of this performance in writing. You can’t take your eyes off of her; I sat open-mouthed and teary-eyed for the duration of the song. When intermission came, I sat speechless.

For this tour, Colby also held an open call for drag performers in every city she would be visiting. After narrowing the audition tapes down to her own top three, every city on the Stripped tour itinerary voted on their favorite, and this performer would take the stage during Sasha’s performance. In Seattle, this performer was Norvina Dubois, who you may know and love from weekend shows at Queer Bar in Capitol Hill. Norvina’s performance was amazing – high-energy, colorful, playful drag. A true Drag Superstar, Colby not only urges her audience to support local drag but uses her platform to uplift local performers.

Sasha Colby Hula Performance Stripped Tour at The Neptune Seattle

In yet another beautiful piece, Sasha Colby expresses her Hawaiian culture, performing a Hula dance barefoot in a gorgeous flowing dress and floral headpiece. Flowing across the stage, singing along to the music, Colby radiates pure, infectious joy. She glows.

I’ll say it again: Sasha Colby is phenomenal. Writing can’t do her justice. From her experience in pageantry, drag, and dance to her ability to storytell, to write, to speak, to perform, I believe there is nothing this woman can’t do. If it sounds like I’m being hyperbolic, that’s only because you haven’t seen her yet.

Cameron Kidd | KXSU Music & Arts Reporter

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