A few new facts trickle in about the death of Sahara Davenport, mainly from the press released issued by her family. The drag star died of “heart failure” at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and not in NYC, where she lived. The RPDR Season 2 contestant, aka Antoine Ashley, died Monday at age 27 and the performer’s mother lives in the Baltimore area.
It is with the greatest sadness that we must confirm the death of Antoine Ashley, also known as Sahara Davenport, from the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Antoine passed away due to heart failure on October 1, 2012, at John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. He was twenty-seven years old.
Antoine’s mother, Angela Ashley Reddish, spoke on behalf of the family. “I thank God for giving me an Angel Antoine Ashley to share with the rest of the world. My family and I would like to thank everyone for their condolences and support. We know that our Angel is now dancing in heaven. May God bless each and everyone.”
Boyfriend of six years and fellow drag entertainer Karl Westerberg (aka Manila Luzon) had this to say: “Antoine lived to entertain the world as Sahara Davenport, and the world was in awe over his extreme talent. But his heart is what made us all fall in love with him. To me he will always be my best friend, my hero, my Diva, and I have always considered myself more than lucky to have him be forever a part of my life. Thank you, hon, for bringing so much beauty to all of us. Your legacy lives on in me and all of us you’ve touched.”
Antoine learned the art of drag on the Dallas nightclub circuit while earning a B.F.A. in dance performance from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he began modeling, commercial acting, and professional dancing. He soon launched his successful drag career in the NYC nightlife scene. In 2008 Antoine received a Glammy Award for Best Dance Performer (already a 2007 nominee and Miss National F.F.I.) and competed in the top twelve of the 2009 National Miss USofA pageant as Miss Gay New Jersey USofA. Known for his high energy dancing, arguably the most spectacular “Lip Sync For Your Life” performed on ballet pointe shoes, this popular contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race has credits in cabaret, television, and music. Recent milestones include Sahara’s debut single, “Pump With Me” as well as “Go Off!”, a dance song that reached Number 35 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart, and an appearance in Manila Luzon’s “Best XXXcessory” music video released on September 18.
Davenport became a nationally known drag performer through her appearance on Logo TV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. The network plans on paying tribute to the star on Friday, October 5th with a marathon broadcast of her second season appearance on “Drag Race”.
“Logo is profoundly saddened by the passing of Antoine Ashley who fans around the world knew and loved as Sahara Davenport. He was an amazing artist and entertainer who’ll be deeply missed by his Logo family. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, especially his boyfriend Karl, in their time of need.”
The network has planned a tribute on October 5. “We’ll be running an all-day marathon of Sahara’s season along with Untucked, with her final episode airing at 10:00 p.m. EST on Friday. We’ll be airing Sahara fan tweets all day long in conjunction with the marathon.” -Jason Shumaker, Director, Communications and Public Affairs, Logo/VH1-
Logo will also dedicate the first episode of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race to Sahara’s memory on October 22. Please tune in.
The funeral is scheduled for the weekend after next as well as a memorial service in NYC on November 2nd.
A private funeral service is being scheduled for October 12 or 13 at Snowden Funeral Home, 246 North Washington Street, Rockville, MD 20850.
A public memorial celebration, including tribute performances by Sahara’s industry friends and entertainers is planned for Friday, November 2, at XL Nightclub in NYC. More information will be provided soon on Sahara Davenport’s Facebook Fan Page.
In memory, Sahara asks that you, “Live, love, and believe.”
Flowers, condolences, and checks can be mailed to Antoine’s mother: Angela Ashley Reddish. (Address redacted)
Hmmmm….hinting for donations is a wee bit tacky. Yes, funerals are expensive but still…didn’t the drag performer save ANY money?
And, “heart failure” is a very vague way to describe a death…ALL death can be attributed to heart failure. And, why was Davenport/Ashley in Baltimore when he lived in New York? To be closer to family? Was the death due to ongoing health issues or something else? It’s not that difficult to find speculation on the Internet that Sahara allegedly had issues with addiction.
Frankly, avoiding the cause of death doesn’t help anyone. If it WAS due to drugs, then it frankly needs to be discussed. If ONE person can be saved from addiction by the death of another, then it’s important to speak up. Hiding in a “closet” solves nothing. If Davenport/Ashley died from other reasons, then why not say so? Talking about addictions or health issues does save lives…