Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-10-17
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Passages: Sasha Valentino
Updated Jan. 1, 2012
by Kate Sosin and Tracy Baim, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Sasha Valentino, a legendary Chicago-based female impersonation performer, passed away on Dec. 26 after a long battle with dementia. She was 40.

Valentino was a nationally known pageant performer, whose titles were many and whose chosen family was extensive.

"Sasha Valentino was an icon and an inspiration to us all in the Trans world," said performer Angelique Munro.

Friends and family remember Valentino as a mentor and example to many, who regularly adopted "children" into her ever-growing family and encouraged them in their goals.

In her own work, Valentino won numerous honors for her performances. She was crowned Miss Black Universe in 1996, Miss Universo Latina, Miss Sweetheart International and Miss Liberty International.

In total, friends estimate that she carried more than 40 titles.

"Sasha was tenacious," said Christian Valentino, who considered Sasha Valentino a mother figure and took on the last name to show it. "In a small pint-sized frame, she packed a punch."

Standing at 5'5", usually in a gown, friends say that Valentino intimidated other performers both with her status as a living legend and a style that was copied time and again.

"She was a trendsetter, an innovator," said Takiya Valentino Wynters, who also saw Valentino as family.

Valentino grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Christian Fenger High School in 1990. In the early '90s she began performing drag at clubs. In time, she was competing in pageants and doing her own drag shows. Her family was intensely supportive, said Christian Valentino. They came to cheer her on at pageants and took each of her losses and wins to heart.

She performed throughout Chicago over the years, making appearances at Jeffery Pub, Hydrate Chicago, Biology Bar ( now closed ) , Taste Entertainment Center among other venues.

Valentino also competed in contests at Chicago's Baton Show lounge, owned by Jim Flint. She competed 11 times in Flint's national Miss Continental pageant, a title she did not live long enough to secure. She also performed at shows for local promoter Otis Mack and in benefits for LGBT and AIDS charities.

"That was her last pageant that she really wanted to win," said Wynters.

According to friends, Valentino mentored countless young trans women who wanted to break into performing, and she impacted many more by serving as a role model.

Christina Valentino, a performer herself, said that many copied her style, trying to perfect the dance moves and outfits that Valentino pulled off.

But most say, Valentino was one-of-a-kind.

"Whatever she did, she always made sure she was going to be the best at it," said longtime friend Terrell Holman.

She performed at numerous venues in the Chicago area, but also performed at pageants all over the country.

Valentino struggled with dementia at the end of her life. She was released from the hospital recently and passed away in her East Chicago, Ind., home. She was preceded in death by father Raymond Harris. She is survived by her mother Fairstine Harris; her grandmother Lillie Williams; her brother Ramaun ( Vernee ) Harris and sister Keisha ( George ) Williams; along with a large extended birth and chosen family.

Valentino wake held Dec. 31

More than 100 family and friends of Sasha Valentino attended a wake for her Dec. 31 at Barker's Funeral Home on the Far South Side. However, because of her mother's religious beliefs ( she is a Jehovah's Witness ) , all of the print materials and photos were of Sasha in male form, and she was even buried in a suit, not one of her fabulous gowns.

Born Raymond Jermaine Harris on Dec. 21, 1971, Sasha lived her last decades as a female impersonation performer across Chicago and the nation. Those facts were left off the obituary handed out at the funeral home.

Several of Sasha's friends and family spoke to Windy City Times at the wake, about their memories of her.

"I've known Sasha for 15 years," said Finesse, who briefly dated Sasha in the late 1990s. "We kept a bond all these years. I remember her performing at East of the Ryan, the Baton, Miss Continental. She was a loving person. She said 'You control your own destiny.' I remember her as having glamour, and she said you have to have the courage to live your own life, no matter what others think of you."

Stephanie Valentino said Sasha was known as her little sister. "I admired her and looked up to her, even though she was younger," Valentino said. Her mother did accept her, Valentino said, but her religious beliefs influenced how she buried her child.

Tina Thompson has known Sasha for around 30 years, she said, from performing around town together at LaRay, CK's, Baton and Tracks in Atlanta, where Thompson now lives. "She had an international following," Thompson said. "She had glamour, elegance, sophistication, and was professional and always a lady. She was a beautiful girl."

Ruthie Mason, Sasha's great aunt, saw her perform and said she was "beautiful." She said her family accepted Sasha, but because Sasha's mother was in charge of the services, the family just had to accept it. Sasha's cousin Mable Casson said while she did not agree with how the wake was handled, it was the mother's choice.

"Performing is what Sasha wanted to do, [ she ] chose and lived it beautifully. [ She ] moved on up," Mason said.

Sasha's friend Pasion has known her for more than 15 years. She remembers her performances to Toni Braxton songs with fondness. "She was a legendary performer," Pasion said. "One of the greatest."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

PASSAGES Robert Klein Engler 2018-10-17 - Robert Klein Engler, of Chicago and Omaha, passed away Oct. 3 in Omaha. He was 75. Robert was a well-known and brilliant writer, ...

Gay News

Gursch memorial set for Oct. 20 2018-10-10 - A memorial gathering for Arthur Gursch, who died June 22, will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, 1-4 p.m., at Grace Place, 637 S. ...

Gay News

Grant celebration of life Oct. 2 2018-09-26 - A celebration of life for Harry Hodges, aka entertainer Ginger Grant, will take place Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Baton Show Lounge, 436 ...

Gay News

Bernard Brommel passes away at 88 2018-09-26 - Bernard Brommel, a retired Northeastern Illinois University ( NEIU ) professor, therapist and philanthropist, passed away Sept. 22 at his home in Kalamazoo, ...

Gay News

Slain trans woman's mother reflects on daughter's life, passing 2018-09-19 - Valerie Griffin will always remember her late daughter—Dejanay Stanton, who went by the nickname Dada—as a free spirit who loved to both travel ...

Gay News

The Baton Show Lounge's Ginger Grant remembered 2018-09-17 - Entertainer Harry Hodges, a.k.a. Ginger Grant, passed away the week of Sept. 10 in Chicago. Hodges, performing under Grant's persona, was a longtime ...

Gay News

Making no small plans: Marcia Lipetz has died 2018-09-11 - Marcia J. Lipetz, 71, a foundational person in the Chicago LGBT community, has died. A no-nonsense professional, she fought for women's rights and ...

Gay News

Marking Danny Sotomayor's 60th birthday 2018-08-29 - Danny Sotomayor—an AIDS activist, artist and ACT-UP Chicago co-founder—would have turned 60 on Aug. 30. He passed away on Feb. 5, 1992. Pictured ...

Gay News

Oscars producer Zadan dies at 69 2018-08-29 - Craig Zadan—the prolific producer behind movies, TV projects and Broadway musicals—has died at 69. The cause involved complications related to shoulder-replacement surgery. Along ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Edward George Raap 2018-08-28 - Edward George Raap, 78, retired architect, world traveler; of Chicago and Puerto Vallarta; passed away unexpectedly but peacefully after a brief illness. Beloved ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.