Antoine Ashley, known as Sahara Davenport from his appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race, passed away yesterday at the age of 27. There’s no information yet on the cause of death, but it has been confirmed by several sources close to the show. “It’s true and I have no words,” Drag Race judge Michelle Visage posted to twitter. “Have to sign off for now kids, can’t handle this. XOXO.” Host RuPaul also offered his sympathies. “Shocked & heartbroken over @SaharaDavenport,” he tweeted earlier this morning. “Never occurred to me that we’d ever lose one of my girls. I see them as immortal.”
A Dallas native, Antoine was trained as a dancer at the Southern Methodist University. He moved to New York after graduating, and began performing drag shows in various bars around the city under his Sahara Davenport alter-ego. He also did turns on the soap opera One Life To Live, Judge Karen, and music videos for David Guetta. After gaining fame on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2010, he turned his attention to his own music. He released the EP Pump With Me, and the single “Go Off” went to Number 35 on the Billboard Dance charts earlier this year.
He leaves behind boyfriend Karl Westerberg, who also appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race under the name Manila Luzon. “I love him so much,” he tweeted today. Logo, the network that airs the television show, issued a statement today. “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.” We’ll give you an update as more information is released.
[Photo: Getty Images]