Chi Chi Devayne, who won the hearts of Drag Race fans starting with her entry into the franchise as a season 8 contestant, has died after battling an illness. We are saddened to hear it, not just because she was talented and young, but because she was one of the stars of the Drag Race firmament who seemed to create light out of nothing but her own personality and creativity. We always loved Chi Chi because she was one of RuPaul’s favorite kinds of drag queens, the make-do girls who come up in small towns or rural areas, learning the art of drag far from the big cities and making their own creativity and ability to spin gold out of thin air into a central part of their drag persona. We always felt queens like Chi Chi were the closest Drag Race ever came to highlighting those dolls who were operating in the Marsha P. Johnson mode. Not that Chi Chi’s drag was ever trash-picked; just that it was all the more impressive for its lack of big-city support. We mentioned her twice in our book; once in reference to make-do queens and once when listing the greatest Library Challenge reads of all time, because very few ever topped this one, in our opinion:
“Bob the Drag Queen. You may be from New York, honey, but those feet are from Mississippi.”
Born Zavion Davenport, Chi Chi will be remembered for her style, her sass, and an inner light that time or death won’t dim for his fans, friends and family. Rest in Peace and in Power, Queen. You brought joy, beauty and art into the world, based on little more than your talent and your need to put it out there.
If you’re a fan of drag, please remember that a lot of these girls are just getting by and a great deal of them don’t have health insurance. Behind all the sequins and wigs and glamour is a community of artists, struggling as all artists do. Support your local drag queens – financially, if you can. Especially at a time like this, when most of them have had their ability to work and make money taken away from them.
[Photo Credit: VH1]