We’re sad to report that earlier this morning it was revealed that RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and drag queen Chi Chi Devayne, or Zavion Davenport, passed away. Davenport was 34 years old.
According to USA Today, DeVayne was recently hospitalised for pneumonia before Joe Patternson, the owner of Louisiana’s Central Station nightclub and friend of the family confirmed the news with the Shreverport Times. Last Saturday, the beloved Southern reality TV star shared a video of him in hospital to his Instagram Story. In it, he admitted that he tested negative for COVID-19, but after a biopsy, doctors had found he was experiencing a kidney failure.
“Keep me in prayers,” he said at the time. “I’ll be back soon.”
Earlier this year, the self-appointed bayou queen was diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic, incurable illness that causes the skin to tighten and thick scar tissues to form around internal organs, impairing the ability to function. In an interview with Hey Qween—who also sadly recently lost its co-host and drag queen legend Lady Red Couture—the entertainer said the illness caused him to lose weight and hindered his ability to perform at his peak dance level.
“It’s hard when you go from being at the top of your game and then… something like this hits,” he said.
Born Zavion Davenport in Shreveport, Louisiana, Chi Chi warmed us all as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 and All Stars 3. Known as the self-appointed bayou queen, he proved that you can make it on the Emmy-nominated popular drag queen competition show with little to your name and without fancy expensive outfits and money. He will be remembered for his Southern country charm, infectiously wonderful soul and heart, and incredible dancing and lip-sync abilities.
Here he is performing in Sydney with close friend and All Stars 3 co-star Kennedy Davenport.
To this day, Chi Chi’s lip-sync of Jennifer Hudson’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is considered one of the best performances on the show. It’s the epitome of an incredible performance: Cheech carries his heart on the stage, conveys the raw vulnerable emotion of the song all through his face and subtle yet powerful shaking body movements, perfectly capturing the song and the hearts of viewers around the world. Including, of course, his Drag Race sisters.
In response to the news, RuPaul released a statement, writing, “I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chi Chi Devayne. I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul.”
“She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.”
“I’m so numb right now, my heart is broken into pieces,” tweeted close friend and All Stars 3 costar Kennedy Davenport. “I couldn’t even get to see her. I love you always, Chi Chi. My dancing angel.”
“I’m literally so devastated and sick to my stomach,” added All Stars 5 winner Shea Couleé. “Wake me up when it’s all over 💔.”
Others, like Peppermint, described him as someone who brought “so much joy, so much light,” a “caring, empathetic and beautiful soul. I love you Chi Chi. Rest in power.”
In an official statement, his family said, “it is with tremendous sorrow that my family and I announce the passing of my beloved son, Zavion Michael Davenport, the world renowned “Chi Chi DeVayne.” Out of respect for the immediate family, please await additional information and directives regarding the final arrangements, memorials and the method to remit condolences and expressions of kindness. His final words to his family and fans, “Never Give Up!””
Rest in peace and power, Chi Chi. As RuPaul says, you are and always will be an All Star.