Tampa Bay drag queen star Natasha Richards dies at 44

By : Chelsea Santiago
Comments: 0

Renowned Tampa Bay drag performer Natasha Richards, who lit up every stage she stepped on, died Dec. 2.

The Clearwater-based performer won dozens of titles in local and national drag pageants, including Miss National 2003 and Miss Gay USofA 1996.

Richards easily carried her larger than life personality from the spotlight to all aspects of her life. As a commanding presence in the LGBTQ community she raised money and awareness for many LGBTQ events and causes.

“We must stand strong, stand by our beliefs and show everyone we are here to stay,” she told the Tampa Bay Times after the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando. Richards was one of the performers who originated Latin Night at the popular Orlando nightclub that saw the nation’s worst mass shooting June 12.

Richards made the drive from Tampa Bay to Orlando once a week to perform at the Pulse Latin Night every week for nearly 10 years.

Many friends and admirers took to social media over the weekend to express their condolences and to share their stories of Richards.

“I remember being at a gay bar, awkward, nervous, and celebrating a 21st b-day or something like that,” Tampa resident Nick Janovsky posted on Facebook Dec. 3. “Natasha Richards became a comfortable presence and I’m thankful for her warmth and humor.”

“Rest In Peace Natasha. Thank you for coming into our lives and showing us what being a true friend really means. You will be greatly and dearly missed,” wrote Tampa resident Mark Ferguson-Nokham.

On Twitter, Maine performer Shaunna Rai wrote, “So sad to see this, and so Damn young. Heaven has yet another amazing angel with them.”

“Talk about stage presence,” performer Lady Bunny posted. “One of the greats and I’ll miss our chats. She was a hoot!”

The circumstances and cause of her death were unclear. Richards was 44.

Share this story: