Remembering Sahara: RuPaul and Drag Racers Share Memories

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com October 22 2012 4:00 AM ET

Manila is a very dear friend of mine, and Sahara’s other half. And I didn’t get to know Sahara much. But the times I’ve got to know her, she’s been nothing but the most beautiful human being, and it’s devastating. I know that she’s looking down on Manila. She’s lived a full life — it should have been longer. Especially someone so young, it doesn’t seem right. I am a mother, and when I think about my children.… Antoine is somebody’s child. A child should never die before a parent, so it breaks my heart. But I’m grateful that the world got to know Sahara.
Michelle Visage



She was a great kid, a lovely, sweet person, and a kind person. I place that at the top of my list of human virtues. Her legacy lives on through her family and her friends and, quite frankly, through our show, which is seen around the world. People have enjoyed her talent, her beauty, and her kindness from around the globe.
RuPaul



Sahara was the first girl to welcome me to the family of Drag Race. She came to see one of these shows. She didn’t even know me, but she’s like, “We’re sisters now. You’re welcome.” And she’s the only person that none of the other girls have ever said a bad word about. We have a secret Facebook group where we all read each other. We’ll post a picture of a homeless drag queen on the street all cracked out, and we’ll be like, “Now, Morgan McMichaels!”…And Sahara was the only one who always had good shit to say, was always funny. If you came away from her, you were always laughing about something. She was amazing.
Willam Belli



Everybody is still in shock, and it’s surreal, while all this is going on at the same time. Sahara and I started in New York at the same time, and we were on stages doing all these shows together and she was a sister in every way. It’s hard to believe it’s a reality that she’s no longer with us. But we’re all trying to stay strong, and we’re sisters, and that’s most important.
— Mimi Imfurst



I don’t know her personally. I met her a few times. I am so sorry for Manila. I would say that death is part of life, but sometimes, death is a bitch. He takes people that are good people.
— Yara Sofia



It was so unexpected, for her to be so young. We were just getting close. We joined a cruise together. We had really formed a bond and were really tight with Manila. It was difficult. It comes at a time that’s really sad. She’s in a better place, and she’s not suffering.
— Latrice Royale



This has been a pretty gloomy year for me in that department. My dad passed away, and my gay father, who sort of raised me in the gay community, he’s the guy who kind of mentored me. To have a friend like Sahara who left us and shared the same experience that I did …we’re all apart of the same sorority at this point. You mourn for a certain amount of time, but you just realize that life is so real. Life is so fucking real. Things are inevitable. None of us are exempt.  It just makes you want to live your life a little bit brighter and a little bit happier and kind of leave all that nonsense behind you.
— Raja



It’s really sad, because Sahara and I were really close on the show and even closer after the show. It’s so sad to see someone that had such a great heart and spirit, and taken so young. But on the positive side, she is leaving a great legacy. And she has all the drag race sisters who will cherish her memory for always.
— Pandora Boxx



I wasn’t that close with Sahara. I met her at the Entertainer of the Year pageant here in California. He was coming through just to say hello to everybody — that was the first time I met him. And I remember how he represented RuPaul’s Drag Race so professionally. And he was so kind and on the money and talkative and was a representative of what this show needs to represent. He went out there among the people to show them we are amazing. We are worthy. We are stars. I appreciate that, and I hope it’s something that I can carry on as a Drag Racer. It’s all about representing and doing it properly. You can go out into this world and be a drag queen and a hot mess and drink and fall down, but then you can also choose to be a role model. And that’s what I want to be. I want to help people. I don’t want to take this art down, I want to elevate it. That’s what I aim to do. And that’s what Sahara did.
— Chad Michaels