When news that Little Richard — the flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll pioneer whose hits included “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” — died on Saturday, clips of a drag queen impersonating him resurfaced on social media. The video, which you can watch above, is from Season 7 (2015) of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” In it, contestant Kennedy Davenport impersonates Little Richard in the “Snatch Game” — a play on the classic celebrity game show “Match Game.”
Not only did Davenport physically resemble Little Richard with her curly hair, eyeliner and pencil mustache, she also responded to questions with Richard’s signature catchphrase, “Wooooo!” Her impersonation was so entertaining that she won the challenge that week.
What’s notable about Davenport’s impersonation is that it was the first time in the show’s history a drag queen portrayed a man during the “Snatch Game.” There are no rules forbidding it, but as the show is a drag competition, all previous contestants portrayed female celebrities.
Little Richard has since become one of Davenport’s signature characters; her Twitter account even touts her reprising the role for an upcoming digital drag event. (Davenport has not yet commented on her inspiration’s passing.)
According to Billboard, Little Richard had a complicated sexual identity. In a 1984 biography written by Charles White, he recounted wearing his mother’s clothes and makeup as a child. His father, a deacon, would violently punish him for that behavior. As a teen, he engaged in sexual activity with both men and women. In a 1995 interview with “Penthouse” magazine, he proclaimed he was “gay all my life.” Later in a 2012 GQ profile, he stated he was “omnisexual.”
In a 2017 televised interview with 3ABN (Three Angels Broadcast Network) — a Christian channel — Little Richard decried homosexuality as “unnatural” and talked about being “saved.” He added:
“When I first came in show business they wanted you to look like anybody but yourself. Anybody that comes in show business, they’re going say are you gay, are you straight, are you a homosexual something? God made men, men and He made women, women. You’ve got to live the way God wants you to live. He loves all of us regardless of whatever you are, He loves you. I don’t care what you are, He loves you. And He can save you and He will save you.”
See some of the memorials below:
can’t believe little richard’s died. a true rock n roll legend. all i can think about is kennedy davenport’s snatch game. pic.twitter.com/ifWcz6rmFZ
— hannah 🤍 (@hantheloser) May 9, 2020
— Adam Riggio (@adamriggio) May 9, 2020
In honor of an original drag icon – Little Richard – I'll be rewatching Kennedy Davenport's legendary Snatch Game performance from season 7 https://t.co/dvn0elT9gY
— Paige Nichols 💚 (@Pagina924) May 9, 2020