Chi Chi DeVayne, a beloved drag queen who shot to fame on the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” franchise, died Thursday in her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. She was 34.
Family members confirmed DeVayne’s death on Instagram, but did not disclose the cause. The news came days after the performer, known offstage as Zavion Davenport, was reportedly hospitalized with pneumonia. She was previously treated in July for suspected kidney failure.
A “heartbroken” RuPaul offered condolences in a statement posted to Twitter Thursday, saying DeVayne would be “dearly missed, but never forgotten.”
“I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul,” the statement continued. “May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.”
Other “RuPaul’s Drag Race” veterans, including Peppermint and Sasha Velour, expressed their sympathy on social media.
Davenport was born in Shreveport in 1985 and grew up studying classical dance. As Chi Chi DeVayne, the performer rose to national prominence on Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2016, returning two years later for “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars.” Earlier this year, she appeared on the Apple TV+ series “Little America.”
She spoke of her interest in branching out into a variety of artistic mediums in a 2016 interview with HuffPost, saying she ultimately wanted to be known as “a damn good performer that came from nowhere and took the world by storm.”
“I think people are becoming more receptive to the alternative styles of drag,” she said. “It’s just showing people that it doesn’t matter — drag is drag and your talent is what’s going to carry you through.”
DeVayne is the second “Drag Race” contestant to have died since the show’s 2009 inception. Sahara Davenport, who appeared on the show’s second season, died in 2012 at age 27.
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