Birthday: December 17, 1984
Died At Age: 27
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Antoine Ashley
Born Country: United States
Born in: Texas, United States
Famous as: Drag Queen
Partner: Karl Westerberg; (2006–2012; Ashley's death)
Died on: October 1, 2012
place of death: Baltimore
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
U.S. State: Texas
education: Southern Methodist University
Who was Sahara Davenport?
Sahara Davenport, born Antoine Ashley, was an American drag entertainer, dancer, and reality TV personality. Davenport became famous as a contestant in the second season of ‘RuPaul's Drag Race’ on ‘Logo TV.’ Originally from Dallas, Texas, Ashley enjoyed dancing since a tender age. Inspired by Michael Jackson, Ashley practiced dance moves through his childhood. Later, he studied dance at the ‘Southern Methodist University,’ Dallas, where he got interested in drag performance. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, he moved to New York City and continued with his drag acts at gay bars and nightclubs. Davenport also appeared in a few TV series, movies, and music videos. Though she got eliminated early on the show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ her dance skills and performance drew attention and appreciation. She had two singles to her credit and had released a duet with her partner, fellow drag queen Manila Luzon. For the final 6 years of her life, she lived with Luzon in New York City. Davenport died of a heart attack at the ‘Johns Hopkins Hospital’ in Baltimore, at the age of 27.
Childhood & Early Life
Davenport/Ashley was born on December 17, 1984, and grew up in Aiken, South Carolina. His mother’s name is Angela Ashley Reddish. When he was 4 years old, Michael Jackson’s ‘Motown 25’ performance impacted him deeply. Throughout his childhood, he continued to imitate Jackson and other dancers. He presented his dancing skills at family, church, and school functions.
10 years later, Ashley’s family moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland. He participated in school talent shows, where he met Bonnie Slawson, the owner of a dance studio in town. She offered to train him, and though his family could not afford such training, she took him as a scholarship student at the ‘Motion Mania Dance Center.’
Ashley studied at the ‘Southern Methodist University,’ Dallas, Texas, and obtained a BFA degree in dance. While studying at the university, he developed an interest in drag acts, and after completing his graduation, he moved to New York City and began performing at gay bars and night clubs.
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Career as a Drag Queen
Ashley Antoine assumed a drag persona and initially changed his name to “Sahara Simone,” inspired by Sierra Nicole Andrews and Nina Simone's daughter, Simone. She then changed her name to “Sahara Davenport” after joining the drag family of matriarch Kelexis Davenport. The name “Davenport” was also said to be adopted from the name of drag queen Divine’s role in the 1974 dark comedy ‘Female Trouble.’ Other members of the Davenport drag family included A’Keria Chanel Davenport (‘Drag Race,’ Season II), Honey Davenport, and Ra’Jah O’Hara. One more drag sister, Bianca Gisele Davenport Starr, was murdered on December 8, 2017.
Davenport was also seen in some TV series and movies, such as ‘ABC’s daytime soap opera ‘One Life to Live,’ ‘A&E’ network’s ‘15 Films about Madonna,’ ‘Voom HD’s ‘Magnificent Obsessions.’ She appeared in Kalup Linzy’s video performance ‘Melody Set Me Free,’ shown at the ‘Whitney Museum of American Art.’
She also performed in the music videos ‘Gettin’ Over You’ by David Guetta and Chris Willis and ‘Girl Problems’ by the music group ‘Girl Problems.’
In 2010, Davenport joined the second season of ‘Logo TV’s reality show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ She was praised for her dance skills, acting skills, and her impersonation of Whitney Houston. She was one of the two drag queens to walk the runway en pointe. Davenport got eliminated in sixth episode and secured the seventh place overall.
After getting eliminated from the reality show, Davenport released two singles: the first one, ‘Pump With Me,’ was released in 2010. The second single, ‘Go Off,’ which was released in 2011, reached number 35 on the ‘Billboard Hot Dance Club.’ Its music video had cameo appearances by drag queens Manila Luzon and Jiggly Caliente.
On the reality show, Davenport talked about her earlier habit of consuming designer drugs (such as ketamine), and she also explained that her drag mother had helped her get over her addiction.
Family & Personal Life
Davenport was in a relationship with her drag queen partner, Karl Westerberg, aka Manila Luzon. They lived together for 6 years in New York City. Luzon became the runner-up in the third season of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ In December 2011, Luzon and Davenport released a duet titled ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’ Later, Luzon revealed that the two had first met at a local bar. Luzon also described Davenport as a fearless and talented individual and a funny and amazing performer, who designed her own costumes.
Davenport died of a heart attack on October 1, 2012, at the ‘Johns Hopkins Hospital’ in Baltimore, Maryland, at the age of 27. The funeral was held at the ‘Snowden Funeral Home’ in Rockville, Maryland.
Davenport’s partner, Luzon, paid a tribute to the drag queen by dedicating a song, ‘Eternal Queen.’ The first episode of ‘RuPaul’s All Star Drag Race’ (aired on October 22, 2012), was dedicated to the deceased drag queen. RuPaul expressed his grief with the words “Shocked and heartbroken over @SaharaDavenport. Never occurred to me that we would ever lose one of my girls. I see them as Immortal.”