The fateful night of the falling petals — alternatively titled, Shea Couleé and Sasha Velour’s journey to drag stardom (told by the stars)
Before you dive in, beware: this is an astrological analysis. I’ll use she/her pronouns to talk about the queens as I’m referring only to their public selves, the drag personas.
I don’t own any of those pictures.
In the ‘dragcast’ podcast number 105, hosted by the drag queen Nina West and with Sasha Velour, the winner of season 9 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, as the host, there’s a question if the winner knew any fellow contestants before she was in the show. Sasha answers that she had seen Shea Couleé’s (top 4) short film prior to the filming of Drag Race and they ended up ‘connecting immediately’. She tells them that she sent Facebook requests (‘and maybe she’ll see it and decide that I’m, like, important enough!’) to Shea, and that as Shea walked in the room, she thought: ‘I’m gonna get her now!’. Shea was the frontrunner, the expected winner and she was eliminated after losing a lip-synch battle to Sasha, an iconic moment that is marked forever in the show’s history. Sasha not only beat her but also another finalist, Peppermint, on her way to the crown.
Sasha Velour was born on 25/06/87 and she’s a Cancer Sun & Moon with a Scorpio ascendant, as confirmed by Sasha herself on Twitter. Her Sun and Moon are conjunct in the first degrees of Cancer and there’s a huge probability of Pluto touching her ascendant as well (she affirmed that her Cancer Moon is in the Gemini cuspid, therefore, the ASC is set in first degrees of Scorpio, where her Pluto sits). She’s an only child and was raised by two people who worked in Universities, as editors and professors; her father is a specialist in Russian History and they’re of Russian descent. Sasha also went to university, in the USA and Russia, studying various subjects related to art (working with zines and publications in general). She lives with her partner in New York and her mother passed away (after years of battling cancer) when Sasha was in her mid-twenties.
Her Sun sits in the ninth house (foreign affairs, studies, knowledge, beliefs, older figures) in the sign of Cancer (mother, family, roots, nurturing, emotions — the verb is to feel) and she is a Cancer bomb (Mars and Mercury are also there) with some opposite planets in the 9th and 3rd house (both related to learning) — and she followed a university path (9th) like her parents (cancer) in the foreign country (9th house) that represents her roots (cancer). It’s quite literal to point that she carries her mother (cancer) with her, as she states that her bald hair choice for a drag performance is based on her mother’s appearance during the cancer treatment and she wears some of her mother’s clothes. She chose a drag name that evokes her Russian descent (a short for her birth name in some European countries) and sometimes talks in a Russian accent. Her persona reflects her family and roots (cancer) and her drag is introduced in the finale as being known by her beauty and brains (3rd/9th).
But Sasha is a Scorpio-pluto bomb too. She enters the werkroom (where the show is filmed) in black from head to toe, shaved hair and caricatural appearance… while screaming. Black is the color of most clothes that she wears in the episodes and she ‘flies under the radar’ even when she wins challenges, surrounded by loud, funny queens that create instant memes and iconic moments while she is quiet, serious, and “deep”. It’s not hard to notice her Plutonian elements as soon as she walks in with the simple but elevated aesthetic, easily spotting Scorpio ascendant traits such as the lean body, clothes that seem to engulf and hide her, deep staring, and crude appearance that she chooses to have. Her deep and slow voice that seems to be crawling on the floor like a snake (and there’s not another trait that can denounce a Plutonian as the passion for snakes… and Sasha has a snake tattoo on her shoulders and arms), a product of retrograde Cancer Mercury, is not enough to avoid being talked over and over when she’s around other queens. Her fights are never really fought; she asks another queen to not joke about eating disorders as she had been through them (and people called her names related to the thin body, another evidence of Pluto, that, in the first house, turns the body into a battleground) but it’s a polite request. The other one, just a warning… directed to her friend, Shea Couleé.
Shea Couleé is an Aquarius Sun and Pisces Moon, born on 08/02/89 and her ascendant is Leo, as she also confirmed on Twitter. She was born in a small town, as the youngest of five children, but moved to Chicago when she was still young and her drag brings many elements of the city. Her mother is a minister, which is shown by her Pisces (faith, distance, transcendence, and religion) Moon (mother, family) in the ninth house (beliefs, knowledge) and she attended university, choosing Costume design — and she has the design classic aspect, (Capricorn) Mercury in the sixth house. It’s impossible to not notice her Leo ascendant, as her entrance is a textbook Leo — “My name is Shea Couleé and I didn’t come to play, I came to slay”. Shea is extremely confident (and the other contestants not only notice it but openly talk about it) and embraces her ‘weird’ side (Aquarius) proudly (Leo) and she does extremely well, intimidating the other contestants but also being seen as a helpful (Pisces Moon) and popular queen (Aquarius Sun and Venus) without backing up from any fight. She stands up for Sasha when the eating disorder “joke” causes a commotion and constantly shields the queens that she thinks are being wronged.
She creates music, produces, and knows how to deal with most things related to Drag queen’s looks. She’s outspoken and fun and some of her looks are controversial but never plain or forgettable. She is very political and seems to know how to bring certain issues when it’s necessary, including her relationship with her father, which went through a transformation, from a feeling of distance to understanding (Pluto sits on her 4th house, the father house and those hidden, power struggles are there; if Sasha got this violent speech directed at her body — 1st house/ascendant, identity and body — Shea got as a kid, growing up — 4th house, also roots, home city, childhood). Shea’s voice is loud and solid (Capricorn Mercury) and she admits that she struggled with her “different” teeth, showing the cluster of planets in Capricorn (that rules teeth, bones, legs) that sits on her sixth house (body/health — she went through dental surgery to fix them). Shea lives in Chicago and has a partner. She was definitely the frontrunner of the show. The other queens seemed to know her and she did amazingly well in the show’s challenges, grabbing four wins.
As the episodes went by, Shea and Sasha start gravitating towards each other, and, by episode three they seem to have become great friends — during a hilarious exchange between the queens about who they would have sex with, Shea and Sasha hold hands and say that they would, in fact, be each other’s choice if they weren’t taken. They start partnering and being together constantly, creating characters that have some sort of blurry relationship (‘We are the ones who want to fuck each other’, Shea complains when another pair of queens creates a character duo that ‘makes out’ in a pilot). In conversations, the other queens seem to perceive them as an inseparable unit, as one of the queens, Alexis Michelle (top 5) points that ‘of course’ Shea and Sasha ‘clang to one another’ when they were asked to choose a partner. It’s a surprise because some of the queens were friends and knew each other previously, but they are the ones who became the show’s “best friends”.
This text isn’t about their relationship but at least two challenging aspects need to be analyzed before the main event’s aspects in order to understand how those two friends created such an unexpected turn of events. The first one is that Sasha’s Scorpio Pluto (which is the ruler of her chart) squares both Shea’s Taurus Mars and Aquarius Venus and if Pluto is involved, we can expect power struggles, obsession issues, and especially, fighting for control. The Pluto-Venus aspect can be spotted in the way their relationship started — the sneaky and quiet Pluto (Sasha) finds (watched Shea’s film) the shiny Venus (Shea, which, not a coincidence, was the center of her self-directed film about a failed relationship) and ‘obsesses’ over it (send the requests and waits to /get/ her). Venus (Shea) reacts with intensity (becoming friends quickly) and there’s this mutual, quick, intense bond being formed. It’s obvious and the surroundings recognize them as a pair and though some queens want to get between them, there’s a barrier. Pluto/Mars… this one is tricky. Sasha and Shea get to work together and become winners as the ‘dream team’ because of this strong driven force that the aspect gives them — when working together, they can take others down. Mars and Pluto are strong, destructive forces, and sometimes, they work well together; but this is a very hard aspect and it’s considering one of the worst for a stable relationship. Here, we have the first clue that they’re going to ‘fight’ each other, though, during the show, that’s only translated into subtle disagreements.
These disagreements reflect their relationship more than necessarily tell us a story. Sasha seems to try to make Shea realize that one of the contestants (Nina Bonina Brown) needs to be treated with more empathy and Shea thinks that she’s trying too hard to prove her affections. This is Sasha’s water-dominated chart asking for softness and care while Shea’s earth-air nature, paired with her firey ascendant is trying to explain the materiality/rationality of the situation. Shea shares that she felt once like Nina — and here we see the protagonist of the events, Chiron, showing its face — because she felt that she once was the most expendable friend, the one that doesn’t belong (Chiron, the wound in the chart, is in cancer (family, roots, feelings) in the eleventh house (friends, social groups) so she can’t feel ‘rooted’ with friends… which is a serious question for an Aquarius Sun, of course). In another moment, when Sasha is in charge of taking care of the group, she tells the queens that she felt like Shea was ‘stepping on her toes’ and ‘talking over her’, while Shea seemed to be unaware (the Mars/Pluto aspect shows itself briefly here, not only by the control issues, but by the fact that they don’t fight directly, but there’s a tension in the room).
But Sasha and Shea get to the final top four, and it means that they can, finally, fight each other as the aspects suggest they will. And one major aspect, that helped them to bond and connect, is going to change the course of things. Shea’s Chiron is in between Sasha’s Sun and Moon, both in the early degrees of Cancer, forming a strong conjunction. This conjunction allows them to understand and care for each other, to show vulnerability and compassion. Shea’s Uranus is opposite her Chiron and, consequently, Sasha’s Sun and Moon. Here, we can see the element of surprise coming: Sasha’s Sun (the center of her life, the event that she’s known best for) and Moon are touching Shea’s Chiron (her wound, the potential to hurt and heal) and both are being opposed by the planet of change, electricity, and unpredictability.
The finale was aired on 23 June 2017, two days before Sasha’s 30th birthday. The Sun was on the same degree as Shea’s Chiron (Cancer 1) and walking to Sasha’s Sun. On that day, the finalists already knew the final two and Shea wasn’t one of them. As they walked on the stage, Shea was the favorite to snatch the crown; she had won four challenges, was admired by the other queens and the public. The other three were definitely strong contestants, especially Trinity, but not as winner material as Shea seemed to be. They were asked to choose the one they wanted to lip-synch against and Trinity Taylor chose Peppermint, leaving Shea and Sasha to fight for the spot in the top two. Shea had said before that she didn’t want to go against Sasha and both reacted as they realized what was about to happen.
The song they have to lip-sync to is So Emotional by Whitney Houston. It’s a Cancerian song, the title alone points to that — it's about feeling, emotions, Cancer’s concepts, and… it’s going to be aired on a sun-in-cancer day, 23rd June, when the main event happens — Sasha wins the lip-sync and not only eliminates Shea, but creates an iconic moment where she reveals rose petals under her red wig (yes, the most emotional of all flowers). She’s in red, singing about passion, with red roses under her wig and everything seems made to crown her watery, deep, emotional nature.
As she is announced the winner, she runs to Shea, in tears, and seems to apologize. It’s a painful moment for Shea — she lost the fight and her father had recently passed away, not being allowed to see her in the finale — but it also becomes a wound for Sasha, that seems to not be as happy as she should be. Shea’s Chiron touches her Sun, so she can feel Shea’s pain; her moment to shine (Sun) is eclipsed by her friend’s hurting (Chiron), one leads to the other. It’s a brutal and genuine moment for a reality show known for being ‘overproduced’.
Sasha wins, and, as good Plutonian, just like Hades (Pluto’s greek counterpart) she goes from the underworld (weird drag, being an underdog, being overlooked and talked over) to the stage in a costume that looks like an invisibility helmet (a gift that, in mythology, allowed Hades/Pluto to be invisible and radiate fear, that marked the God and the planet named after him), winning in the most Scorpio way, silently and deadly:
It’s her moment, but in a certain way, it’s Shea’s moment too. She will become a winner, later, (All-Stars Five) but she’ll be tormented by her loss, as she later confesses, and it’ll be a major event, a turning point (Uranus opposing the Chiron-Sun-Moon conjunction) for both of them, tying their public personas and journeys together. The same aspects that brought them together were the ones pointing to the events that it would follow. The two queens continue to be friends — and they still make fun of their blurry relationship, suggesting romantic affairs as a joke — and their lip-sync battle became one of the most memorable moments of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, changing the course of the show and their lives.