Kennedy Davenport talks about Drag Race All Stars Season 3 and more

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

By the time you read this, the premier of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season three will have aired. We will have found out who the mysterious 10th queen is. We will (I guess) have found out which of the 10 competitors didn’t make it to week two.

And we will have seen a Dallas favorite back in action on the Drag Race stage.

Kennedy Davenport — the “dancing diva of Texas” and the fourth place finisher in Drag Race season 7 — is competing for her place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, a big ol’ crown (to add to the many she already has, including the most recent, Miss RoundUp 2017) and the $100,000 prize.

(Shangela, another queen with North Texas roots, is back for a third time, and who knows who the mysterious 10th might be — Alyssa Edwards or Laganja Estranja from North Texas, or maybe Cynthia Fontaine from Austin?)
One thing’s for sure, Kennedy promised during a phone interview on Tuesday (Jan. 23): “We start out with a bang!”

“It’s gonna be singing. It’s gonna be dancing. It’s gonna be acting — everything!” she said of the third All Stars season. “It is action-packed this time around.”

Action-packed is also a fitting description for Kennedy’s life these days. While the All Stars episodes have all been filmed, except for the grand finale where the winner is announced, she has more than enough to keep her busy.

“I am home here in Dallas until [Jan. 27]. Then I will go to Atlanta and be there through the 30th,” she said. “I will be at a pageant there, and then I’m recording the video for my new single, ‘I’m Moving Up.’”

Wait — Kennedy dances AND sings? “Oh yes. I was singing before I ever started doing drag,” she explained, adding that there is no set date for the release of the single and the video, but that it will be sometime during All Stars Season 3.

Kennedy will be back home in Dallas on Jan. 31 just in time for “The Kennedy Experience,” a special show co-starring ChiChi Devayne — a Drag Race Season 8 competitor from Shreveport who’s also back for All Stars Season 3 — that will benefit CEBA (the Caven Employees Benevolence Association). (See details in sidebar).

But it is the suspense of All Stars Season 3 that is on most people’s minds right now. And Kennedy promises it will be worth the wait.

“It’s gonna be a great first episode!” she declared. “It’s gonna be a great season.”

Kennedy said that when she was invited to return for All Stars Season 3, it wasn’t the crown or the prize money that prompted her to say yes. “I wasn’t even thinking about that $100,000. That’s just truth,” she said. “I was just excited for a second chance. I just really felt [in Drag Race Season 7] that I wasn’t able to show all of me. This [All Stars] was an opportunity to let people see what I can really do, all of it.”

Coming back for All Stars is “definitely different” than competing in Season 7, Kennedy said.

“This time, I know everybody. That offered a little bit of comfort. The first time, you had to get to know everybody else, and that was a little challenging,” she explained. “But this time, these are my sisters. I know them going in. That made the road a little easier.”

Still, she added, “All Stars is very draining emotionally. It’s very competitive. I mean, every girl there came with her A game. It’s not easy at all. As an all star, [judges and fans] expect perfection.”

Shade has always been an integral part of Drag Race, in every episode of each incarnation. After all, “when you get that many drag queens together at one time, there’s bound to be some drama,” Kennedy acknowledged.

But, she said, “It’s not about that. The focus should never be on the drama of it all.” And the competitors in All Stars Season 3 understood that.

“We all had the frame of mind of, ‘Let’s make good television.’ We all knew that this was our second chance, our second opportunity to make good for ourselves, and we were all more focused on that, on making good for ourselves,” she continued.

“And that’s what makes a good competition, and it makes good television.”

But really, Kennedy said, the hardest part of it all was not telling anybody she had made the show in the first place.

Drag queens know going in that they can’t tell anyone they are on the show. The names of each season’s competitors remain a secret until RuPaul reveals them just before the season premiers.

“It’s hard as hell” not to tell anyone, Kennedy declared. “We have to wait so long! It’s just like having to pee really bad and having nowhere to pee, honey! You just gotta find a place to let it all out! And it just felt so good to be on the show this go-round, and you just want to tell everyone all about it!”

Life between 7 and 3

Drag Race, Kennedy said, has already changed her life. And it has changed the world of drag, too.

“I think, thanks to Drag Race, there is definitely a newfound respect for drag, not just in our [LGBT] community, but in the heterosexual community as well,” Kennedy said. “We [drag queens] are being seen differently now. Drag is being seen as an art form, as an actual profession where a girl can make an honest, decent living.

“And I think it’s definitely happening in a positive manner. Drag queens are being more active in a lot of ways , on a lot of issues, and we’re bringing a lot of attention to our community,” she continued. “You never know how something you do, some number in a show, might affect some person in the audience. We are bringing more awareness; we are the most popular thing going right now.

“Straight people, gay people — all kinds of people look up to us, and it’s up to each of us to live a life that will inspire and be a testimony, especially for the younger people in our community. I am proud to be part of that.”

Like other contestants who did well on the show, Kennedy has had a chance to “tour the world, meet beautiful people and share your talent with them. I am just blessed, so blessed and humbled to have had the chance to have this experience,” she said.

But there have also been some very tough times for Kennedy and for the Davenport family. Kennedy had already endured the sudden and unexpected deaths of her father and her drag sister, Sahara Davenport. Then on Dec. 8 last year, came another blow: her drag sister Bianca Davenport Starr was shot to death in her Fort Worth home during an apparent robbery.

“Bianca and I were very close,” Kennedy said this week. “She was nothing but real and genuine and unconditional when it came to our relationship. She always told me how proud she was of me, how proud she was to have me as her big sister. We worked together and were always able to help each other in this field.”

Kennedy said she uses Bianca’s death “as a motivation. I know she would want me to carry on, to keep on going, to do the very best I can in this competition and in life. In fact, I am actually dedicating my new single, ‘I Am Moving Up,’ to Bianca.”

Kennedy said that while she is proud to call Dallas her home, she hopes that she will see more support from her hometown this time around.

“In Season 7, I felt a real lack of support from our Dallas community, and I would really love to see more support from Dallas this time,” she said. “Shangela, Laganja, Alyssa — we all need more support from our Dallas, Texas family. We get all of this support from other cities, other states, even other countries. And I do have beautiful, wonderful fans here in Dallas, and I appreciate all of them from the bottom of my heart. But I really hope the girls here, and the fans here, can rally and support each other like I see in other cities.”

How can her fans here in North Texas do that?

“Through tweeting [and social media],” Kennedy explained. “Come to the shows, come to the functions we have here. Give us more verbal support. Just simple, simple stuff like that.”

And, she added, Kennedy isn’t just asking others to give without being willing to give in return.

“I will do better, too,” she said. “I have to make a pledge myself, to be more visible, to go to more bars, different bars than what I have gone to usually. To give back, so that it’s not just me asking, it’s me doing, as well. We can all do that.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 airs each Thursday at 7 p.m. on VH1.

………………

The Caven Employee Benevolence Association (CEBA) presents The Kennedy Experience, Wednesday, Jan. 31, in The Rose room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.

The show features Dallas’ own Kennedy Davenport and Chi Chi Devayne of Shreveport, both stars RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3, which premiered Thursday night, Jan. 25.

The event begins with a VIP meet-and-greet at 9 p.m., and the show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $20 for VIP tickets that include the meet-and-greet and VIP seating. Tickets are available in advance at CEBADallas.org.