Chi Chi Devayne: life and career of the season 8 Rupaul’s Drag Race queen who has died aged 34 - and her rare condition Scleroderma explained
RuPaul said: ‘She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all’
Chi Chi DeVayne - a former star of RuPaul's Drag Race - has died at the age of 34.
DeVayne appeared on Season 8 of the show in 2016, as well as Season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars two years later.
She died having contracted pneumonia after a hospital stay for scleroderma-related kidney failure.
RuPaul said he was "heartbroken" to hear the news; in a statement, the Drag Race host said, "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."
Who was Chi Chi DeVayne?
Zavion Davenport was born in 1985 and grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked multiple nine-to-five jobs to support himself before finding fame on RuPaul's Drag Race.
Davenport told Newsweek that growing up he was "always a little performer".
"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 twenties."
But early life wasn't always easy, and Davenport also admitted to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that he often carried a gun and joined gangs during his "hard knock" upbringing.
Davenport's stage name came from the film 'To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar', a 1995 comedy about drag queens who embark on a road trip starring Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze.
Where did she place on Drag Race?
Known for an affinity for the colour purple, DeVayne finished fourth on the eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2016, a series that was ultimately won by Bob the Drag Queen.
Described as "the dark-horse" of the season by HuffPost's James Michael Nichols, DeVayne turned heads from the off, "walking through the doors in the first episode in a dress literally made out of garbage bags."
Her lip sync to Dreamgirls' 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' is considered one of the best lip syncs in Drag Race history.
The experience was a positive one for DeVayne, who described appearing on the show as one that had changed "everything" in her life.
"Everything has turned in a different direction," she said in a 2016 interview. "Before, I was just like, 'What's a good job that I could get here in town, working in a factory?' It's crazy."
How did DeVayne die?
Having been diagnosed with scleroderma - a rare autoimmune disease that can result in the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissue - DeVayne was rushed to hospital on 17 July for kidney failure related to her condition.
Posting on social media, she said: "I let it go too long without going to the doctor and these are the consequences."
DeVayne showed her appreciation for the outpouring of support from fans and colleagues, and stated that she was undergoing dialysis treatment.
She was readmitted into the hospital later in 2020 after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
"Keep me in your prayers," she said in a video message. "I'll be back soon."