By Daniel Villarreal
Originally published on Advocate.com October 02 2012 11:02 AM ET
According to past contestants from RuPaul's Drag Race, season 2 competitor Sahara Davenport has died, making him the show's first star to sashay away into heaven.
He was 27. He also owned more than 100 wigs. And he came into this world as Antoine Ashley, a young boy who went on to study dance at the very conservative Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Davenport performed on Dallas's one gay strip during his university years and, after graduating, made the very wise choice of moving to New York City, where he made a name for himself "by doing talent nights, talent competitions and networking and meeting all the working girls."
By day, Ashley took classes, booked gigs, and taught private dance lessons. But by night he became Sahara Davenport — an elegant drag dancer whose name was bestowed by favorite performer and drag godmother, Sierra Davenport.
While in New York, Sahara began working for Screaming Queens Entertainment, a company "which hires drag queens out as 'ambience girls' for corporate events and bar mitzvahs." Davenport's favorite outfit was, of course, a "red-sequined cat suit that looks like a flying squirrel."
During that time Davenport also began dating season 3 Drag Racer Manila Luzon (Karl Westerberg). The two lived together in Harlem. Sahara shone in Drag Race by impersonating Whitney Houston in the Snatch Game and leading her team to earn the most money through burlesque dancing and selling their sweet cherry pies on the streets of Los Angeles — werque!
Davenport twice eluded elimination during rounds of "lip-synch for your life," but all the pirouettes and ballet kicks in his repertoire could not save him after screeching and stumbling through a rock performance of RuPaul's "Lady Boy."
The judges said Davenport was too ladylike and not sufficiently rock-and-roll. But he proved them wrong by releasing two singles after competing in Drag Race: “Pump With Me” and “Go Off.” Here's how Davenport described her track "Go Off":
“'Go Off; is that moment in life when you decide to give yourself the power to do whatever it is you want to do, but at your maximum potential. Whatever it is, dance the house down, pick up a hot guy, or even slap the bitch who stole your last boyfriend. It’s definitely about letting down walls and showing your loudest colors.”
Last night Drag Race alums began tweeting about Davenport's passing, although it's not been disclosed how it happened:
Stacy Layne Matthews: "Just lost one of my Drag Race sisters….. RIP Sahara Davenport!!!!!!! I love you sis!!!!!!"
Jujubee: "A beautiful angel has been added to Heaven. Rest in peace my sweet friend. We will miss you, Sahara Davenport."
Tatianna: "I’m at a complete loss for words. Rest in peace Miss Sahara Davenport. You were a beautiful person, performer, and sister. I will never forget you or the experiences we had together. Love you always."
Michelle Visage, a Drag Race judge, confirmed the Twitter reports: "It’s true and I have no words. Have to sign off for now kids, can’t handle this. XOXO"
Manila Luzon: "I love him so much."