Manila remembers Sahara

The sudden death earlier this month of Antoine Ashley, known to his fans as impersonator Sahara Davenport from RuPaul’s Drag Race, is still reverberating in the community. Sahara, who lived in Dallas, was on the mind of fellow contestant Manila Luzon, who will be competing on the upcoming All-Stars edition of Drag Race, starting next week.

Manila talked briefly about her late boyfriend at an L.A. gala this week. Here’s the story.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Former Dallas Drag Racer Sahara Davenport reported dead

The Twitterverse is abuzz with reports that Sahara Davenport, the dancer and female impersonator who was a favorite on Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has died.

Reports are non-specific; one blogger, in a piece calling the reports “erroneous,” offered as his sole “proof” that is sounded like a hoax to him — and that Sahara’s death was not reported on her Wikipedia page (a crowd source site anyone can edit — yeah, strong evidence). Another commenter noted that now her death is on the Wiki page, so it must be true.

So far, though, despite hard facts, it appears to be true. Jujubee, a fellow Drag Racer, posted an “RIP” notice on her own Facebook page late last night, and, in response to questions of “what happened” said merely, “It’s not important what happened. Just send prayers.” Avoidance of the cause of death, of course, only fuels suspicions of a hoax, although it is not uncommon not to announce a cause of death immediately, especially if the reason was something considered “shameful” (suicide, a drug overdose), though at this point there is no evidence of that.

Jujubee isn’t the only colleague of Sahara’s to note the passing; the official RuPaul Facebook page also offers condolences for her passing. (Oddly, there is no mention of it yet on any official Logo channel websites.) It has also not been refuted on the many offers of sadness of Sahara’s own page and that of her partner, fellow contestant Manila Luzon. Within the past few minutes, People magazine online and the gay blog Towleroad have also reported the death.

When we know more, we’ll report it.

On a personal note, Sahara and I were friendly. She got her start in Dallas, and she would often message me when she was coming to town; I also interviewed her on a few occasions (most recently here). It’s very sad in any event.

Davenport was born Antoine Ashley. He was 27.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

This week’s edition is The Food Issue, and we cover a lot (check it out), but the big news this week is that Monica Greene has, exactly five years after closing Ciudad, reopened in the gayborhood. Last night was the first service for Monica’s Nueva Cocina, her revision of Aca y Alla now at the ilume. The formal grand opening won’t be for two weeks, but you can get a sneak before then.

Theatre 3‘s new season officially kicks off upstairs on Monday (following previews this weekend) with Present Laughter, a comedy by gay British icon Noel Coward. Avenue Q will continue to play its extended run downstairs until September 16 (although I heard a rumor it will go even longer). Mark-Brian Sonna Productions’ The Importance of Being Lovely continues its successful run at the Stone Cottage in Addison, having just been extended as well to Aug. 18. Across the way, WaterTower Theatre’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe has also been extended, to Aug. 19.

Liz Mikel is also performing an extended run in Joseph as DTC, but you can see her out of one character and into another as she performs the songs of Moms Mabley, Ma Rainey and more on her night off. Her cabaret show will be at the South Side on Lamar Blue Room on Monday night.

On Thursday night, two more Drag Racers come to town to perform at the new I’ll Do Dancing Club on Elm Street, with music from DJ Redeye.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones