Sahara Davenport was the stage name of Antoine Ashley, (December 17, 1984 – October 1, 2012) an American drag queen, reality television personality, classically-trained dancer, and choreographer. She was best known as a contestant on Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Ashley passed away on October 1 of 2012 due to heart failure.
A native of Dallas, Davenport began his drag career while attending Southern Methodist University. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance, he relocated to New York City, where he began performing regularly at many gay bars and nightclubs throughout the city.
Davenport has been seen on television on A&E Network's 15 Films about Madonna, Voom HD's Magnificent Obsessions, and on ABC's daytime soap opera One Life to Live. He was featured in the pilot of Judge Karen as an angry Beyoncé impersonator who sues the paparazzi. Davenport made his art film debut in Kalup Linzy's video-performance piece "Melody Set Me Free," which was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He also appeared in the music videos "Girl Problems" by the group Girl Problems and "Gettin' Over You" by David Guetta and Chris Willis.
Sahara Davenport was known on the show for her incredible performance skills, dance moves, her Whitney Houston impersonation, and her laugh.
RuPaul's Drag Race
Davenport joined the cast of the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2010. He was pegged as "The Dancer" when in the first episode he had to "lip-sync for your life" against his former college classmate, Shangela Laquifa Wadley. In the second episode, Davenport became a team leader when he and Pandora Boxx won the mini-challenge. Sahara won the second episode elimination challenge by leading his team to earn the most money by pole dancing and selling cherry pie gift certificates on the streets of Los Angeles. In the fourth episode, Davenport gave a humorous impersonation of Whitney Houston in the Snatch Game challenge. In the Wedding Dress episode, he was in the bottom two again, but remained safe because of his lip-sync performance to Martha Wash's "Carry On". Sahara was eliminated in the sixth episode for not conveying enough of a "rock 'n' roll" attitude and being too much of a lady.
Sahara Davenport was eliminated in the 6th episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.
The main challenge was to sing RuPaul's single, "Ladyboy" in front of a live audience, and create a fashion-forward Rock and Roll outfit for the runway and performance.
Sahara came off as one of the most nervous performers and fumbled the lyrics of the song, which put her in the bottom two alongside Jujubee.
Sahara Davenport gave the wrong feel and wrong dance moves to the song that was chosen to lip-sync to, Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet" and had to sashay away.
Rupaul's Drag Race Stats:
|Season Competed:||Season 2|
|Mini-Challenges Won:||1 (ep. 2)|
|Times as Team Captain:||1 (ep. 2)|
|Main Challenges Won:||1 (ep. 2)|
|Times in Bottom Two:||3 (ep. 1, 5, 6)|
|Episode Eliminated:||ep. 6|
- Sahara was the first contestant in series history to win a mini-challenge, win the role of team captain, and win the main challenge all in one episode. She achieved this in episode 2, "Starbootilicious", and won the mini-challenge with Pandora Boxx who also became a team captain.
- Sahara only won one main challenge in her entire season.
- Sahara was the first queen to ever walk the runway en pointe.
- She was the only contestant in Drag Race history to have done so until Brooke Lynn Hytes in season 11.
- Sahara along with Shangela Laquifa Wadley were the first bottom 2 contestants to have to "lip-sync for their lives" in season 2.
- Sahara placed in the bottom 2 a total of three times before being eliminated.
- Sahara "lip-synced for her life" in episode 2, "Gone with the Windows" to the song "Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk)" by RuPaul, in episode 5, " Here Comes the Bride" against Morgan McMichaels to the song "Carry On" by Martha Wash, and in episode 6 "Rocker Chicks" against Jujubee to the song "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles where she was finally eliminated.
- After being eliminated in episode 6, Sahara archived the 7th place placing in the competition.
- Sahara's farewell message read: "Live, Love and Believe!!! XO. Sahara"
- Sahara is the first and so far the only former contestant of RuPaul's Drag Race to pass away. The first episode of RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race is dedicated to her.
Personal Life & Death
Before his death, Davenport resided in New York City with his boyfriend Karl Westerberg (Manila Luzon), who was a contestant and runner-up on the Season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Davenport died from heart failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on October 1, 2012.
Manila Luzon says he will continue to carry on Sahara's legacy from this point on. (Interview here)
Drag Name Origin
She started as Sahara Simone. The name Sahara was inspired by one of her favorite performers, Sierra Nicole Andrews. She thought "I'm black, so I should be the African one, Sahara." She also loved Simone, Nina Simone's daughter, who played Mimi in Rent on the first national tour. She then became a part of a drag family with Kelexis Davenport as her drag mother which she changed her last name too. Davenport came from Divine's role as Dawn Davenport in 'Female Trouble'.
- "I'm Sahara Davenport, I'm 25 years old and I live in New York City!"
- "Well, my boyfriend's Asian, so I decided to go for the parasol" (Referring to Manila Luzon on the 1st episode.)
- "I'm happy I survived, but of course I'm sad, you know I sent my friend home." (about Shangela)
- "Oh my god, I am in a group with like Satan's Baby." (about Tyra Sanchez)
- "We don't have sex in drag, so no, I'm not Kai-Kai."
- "What else do you want me to do Ms. Merle?" (Defending her rocker chick performance from Merle Ginsberg's critique)
- He was inspired to dance by Michael Jackson, he said Michael changed his life ever since he was 4 years old.
- She is one of two queens, along with Brooke Lynn Hytes, to walk the runway en pointe.
- Antoine and Darius Pierce (Shangela) attended Southern Methodist University together.
- He became a scholarship student at Motion Mania Dance Center.
- He earned a Bachelor's degree in dance.
- Davenport has been seen on television on A&E Network's 15 Films about Madonna, Voom HD's Magnificent Obsessions, and on American Broadcasting Company's daytime soap opera One Life to Live. He was featured in the pilot of Judge Karen as an angry Beyoncé impersonator who sues the paparazzi.
- He was the boyfriend of Manila Luzon until he passed away.
- Released two singles "Pump With Me" and "Go Off", available on iTunes and Amazon.
- Along with Pandora Boxx, they were the first two Drag Race queens to come from New York.
- Sahara was the first (and so far, only) Drag Race contestant to pass away.
- Her Instagram is dedicated to the remembrance of her life, rather than leaving it inactive.
4th: Tatianna • 5th: Pandora Boxx (Miss Congeniality) • 6th: Jessica Wild • 7th: Sahara Davenport • 8th: Morgan McMichaels • 9th: Sonique • 10th: Mystique Summers • 11th: Nicole Paige Brooks • 12th: Shangela
Emanuel Palmer • Max "The Body" Philisaire