Remembering Chi Chi DeVayne’s most iconic lip-syncs and incredible legacy after the Drag Race star’s tragic death
Chi Chi DeVayne, who has tragically died aged 34, will be remembered for her incredible talent, kind heart and determination.
The Drag Race star passed away Thursday (August 20) shortly after being hospitalised with pneumonia, and two years after sharing that was living with the rare, chronic condition scleroderma. Confirming the sad news, her family shared what had been her final words: “Never give up!”
Born Zavion Davenport, Drag Race fans were first introduced to Chi Chi DeVayne as she stormed the season eight werk room proclaiming: “Laissez la bon temps roulez!” (“Let the good times roll” in Creole).
Immediately, Chi Chi made her mark on viewers. Fans came to know and love her as the underdog, whose raw talent and star helped her reach the top four despite the odds.
Her story wasn’t one of typical big city success – hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana, Chi Chi was open about the fact she had been in a gang in her youth, and had come to Drag Race without the expensive wardrobes and large followings of her competitors.
“I was always a little performer,” Chi Chi told Newsweek in 2018.
“My uncle used to stage talent shows with all us cousins, and my mom saw something in me. She had me in gymnastics, and I was in a dance company in my 20s,” she said.
Chi Chi DeVayne’s iconic ‘And I Am Telling You’ lip-sync.
Chi Chi put these hard-earned skills to good use on the main stage, where she earned a reputation as a powerful, immaculate lip-syncer.
Chi Chi’s lip sync to Blondie in front of Debbie Harry was also so full of swag and energy. ? pic.twitter.com/c93Rb47oIj
— J Λ M Ξ S (@jamesglynn) August 20, 2020
Competing on Drag Race helped her “heal from a lot of things from [her] past,” she told San Diego LGBT News in 2016.
“Not accepting where I came from, and who I am as a person, the voice, you know the appearance, the everything.
“Drag Race has opened my eyes to see there’s so much more than where I came from and to, like, not hold that against myself. To push forward with where I wanna go in life. So yeah, it definitely has healed that aspect.”
Before the show Chi Chi had been working in a bar, “doing the minimal”, but was soon wowing audiences around the world.
Fans were eager for more, and in 2018 she was invited back for season three of Drag Race All Stars. Though her second run on the show was short – she was eliminated in the third week – she once again lit up living rooms with her charm and warmth.
After her return to the show, Chi Chi was looking forward to the future.
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“I want the legacy of Chi Chi DeVayne to be a damn good performer that came from nowhere and took the world by storm,” she told HuffPost in 2018.
“I want to be one of the household names – I want to be one of the RuPauls. I want to do music, film, acting – all of that kind of stuff.”
Though her story was cut tragically short, it’s undoubtable that her wish will come true. As countless tributes from friends and family members prove, Chi Chi DeVayne will always be remembered as a damn good performer, a kind-hearted queen, and a much-loved member of the community.