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'Drag Race' Star Sahara Davenport Releases New Single 'Go Off!'

By Pollo Del Mar

Sahara Davenport found herself in high drama very early on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Before the first episode of the popular LOGO reality series’ second season was even over, the New York resident was in the bottom two, lip-syncing for her life against old college pal Shangela.

Of course, Sahara sent the drag newcomer home early -- very good TV -- but none of that’s what she wants to discuss now. After all, no matter how recently global audiences have watched, it was over two years ago for her. Never one to rest on her Drag Race laurels, she’s much more interested in what’s happening in her career today: her new single “Go Off” just hit iTunes!

In this interview, Sahara shares about her experiences since Drag Race, why music feels like a natural progression in her career and what her idea of “success” looks like. She also gives some insight into whether wedding bells are in the future for her and equally-famous boyfriend…er, girlfriend…Drag Race Season 3 star Manila Luzon!

Are more people contacting you now that Drag Race is broadcasting worldwide?

Definitely! I was getting messages from Mexico, saying, “We love you!” Now the Australians are picking it up. (Laughing.) It’s like, “We just finished watching your program. We love you here in Brazil!” It’s funny how the web helps us with that.

Nicole Paige Brooks told me fans come up expecting her to respond to events on TV like they’ve just happened. Even when it first aired, it was still nearly a year old!

Exactly! (Laughing.) I’d already laughed, cried and worked through it. You’d think the viewing public would be a little more keen – I don’t want to say “less naïve” – about how things work. It’s a process. Even with things that happened on Season 3… It was so long ago, I can’t even rehash feelings. I want to be polite. I want to give people some kind of answer, but a lot of times, you just don’t really care, Pollo. (We’re both laughing.) I want to say, “What you saw is what I felt back then, but right now, I just don’t really give a fuck!”

Audiences are very invested Drag Race!

They really are! I’m not really a fan of reality TV, but I follow Broadway actors and actresses. I know their careers. I also know Audra McDonald wasn’t the character, you know? That’s what confused me at first. People seem to really think we’re these one-dimensional drag queens. It’s very flattering to know they do invest so much, that they’re caring so much, even after so long.

What’s the most unexpected thing to come from Drag Race?

The acceptance from my family. Coming from such a religious background, to have everyone open up and be excited for me before even I was really excited for me. I’d been in the entertainment industry since I was a little boy. I’d worked as a male model, a commercial dancer, all that stuff. I’ve had spurts of success in my career as an entertainer, but this was my first big adventure as “Sahara.” I didn’t think my parents or family would understand, so to see them open their hearts and welcome it with open arms… I was blown away. For me, it was a job, but they were enjoying it and telling me to enjoy it. That surprised me. Also, New York City . . . They were really rooting for me, so it was great to have that support.

Tell me about “Go Off,” the follow-up to your debut single “Pump with Me”?

The message of the song is actually something I learned being on RuPaul’s Drag Race:  Don’t play it small, play it big every chance you get! It’s a little more aggressive, so I can do the high-kicks and splits, all the things I’m known for. I enjoy performing it. I can’t wait to see what comes of it. “Pump with Me” was pretty, and the music was a little more pleasant, but this one is dub-step. I’m yelling. I’m screaming. I’m not singing pretty melodies.

So many Drag Race girls are releasing new music!

I don’t know how many are creating music. With the way the industry is going – with Autotune and stuff – anybody can step up to a microphone and have something produced. I’ve done musical theatre, tons of musicals, and grew up doing music in the church. I’ve been a fan of music way before Drag Race. Honestly, I don’t know about the surge of girls from the show doing music, but we come from the Institute of RuPaul. We’ve been on TV. We’ve toured the world. Now this seems like the next thing to do: Let’s try music. RuPaul is an amazing role model. She’s done what she’s done, and we’re all trying to follow in her footsteps.

How did you get into a kai kai relationship with another drag queen?

When I met Karl, we were both boys. Even though I told him that night, he waited a little longer to tell me. At first, I’m not going to lie, it was a little off-putting. Then my friends were like, “Why would you reject him? You really like him.” After a month of knowing, I hadn’t seen it. Then when I did, I think I laughed the whole night. Well, I laughed and I drank. (Laughs) Really, I did. Then it just became so much fun creating together. We were lovers and best friends. We have a lot in common, yet we’re so different. I don’t know how it works. I don’t question it, I just go with it.

Despite being discriminated against because of drag, I’m just as bad. I don’t want a boyfriend I’m competing against!

That’s another part of it. When I met Karl, he was more of a “club kid.” I was doing “female impersonation.” It was two different girls. Then, as his scene started to die here in New York, he started coming to the pageants with me. He started to see how we do things and, over time, changed his face, his paint. He became the Manila you see today. That was eventual and gradual. Had he been next to me in the mirror in those dressing rooms, I may not have looked at him the same. He kind of morphed into the Manila he is today. I think that may have helped the way I saw things.

Living in New York, you can now legally marry. Have you considered it?

As soon as the bill passed, our Twitters were blowing up. “Congratulations on the wedding!” Like I keep saying, you have to have a proposal before you have a wedding, and I just haven’t gotten a ring yet! We’ll see what happens. I’m waiting for him to ask, and he’s probably waiting for the same thing. That’s where you run into the kai kai problem! (Both laughing.) Who’s ringing who? We’ve been this way for five years! We’d discussed it. We’ve talked about our wedding, but it’s been this way for so long, I might be scared to even go there. I’ve always dreamed of having a family and everything, but now I’m an adult and . . . It’s just here.

I’ve always wondered, “What kind of person actually ‘plans’ to have kids?” I just thought a girl gets knocked up…

(Sahara is laughing hysterically.) And before you know it, the trailer’s full!

Oh, you do know me!

You’re so silly! No, I know exactly what you’re saying. Even growing up with my background, I never thought of getting married. I thought of having a family, but now at my age, it’s here! My friends are adopting kids. Everyone’s getting married. I’m going to ceremonies left and right. I’m looking around going, “Have I arrived? Is it that time now?”

Do you have a long-term idea of where drag could take you?

For me, the transition from my male career into my drag career was planned. It was all because of my body type. I was only being called to do female or chorus boy parts. That can only be fulfilling for so long, so I figured why not create my own work, as a woman? I could use my art, my dance training and such and propel Sahara forward. The long-term goal is just success, and to continue working. Every day, when I do a new project, I’m learning where I really, really want to go. Now I’m leading up to the world of production, and want to produce more, and am enjoying the world of music. I’m just leaving my options open, making sure I take care of myself and am happy artistically.

Sometimes, for me, it can all feel so repetitious!

Yes, but sometimes when I’m not comfortable, I get excited. It’s kind of weird, kind of sadistic. I like some of the routine of what we do, but I also like being pushed. I like being challenged and learning new things. After being on the show, the world of opportunity has been opened. I’m privileged just to get to experience all that!



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