Many in the Gran Canaria English speaking community awoke feeling desolate this morning, to the sad news that well known and universally loved cabaret star Asa Ashton had passed away in the night, after a few days in hospital to treat pneumonia. The entertainment community in particular are somewhat devastated by the loss, completely unexpected and hard to comprehend. As one social media comment put it, Heaven just gained one hell of an entertainer!
Asa Ashton Breaking the illusion he created with one last song, he deftly removes his wig to reveal, that underneath all the glamour and his shining beauty, lay simply Asa; living, loving, laughing along with you, one last song to end the show.
Good night Asa, Thank you. RIP – As a bright new star appears overhead “Heaven just gained one hell of an entertainer.”
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Sunday, July 28, 2019
Born in the small market town of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, Asa Ashton came to Gran Canaria in 2005 and worked his first year here as a cocktail waiter at a bar called Detox Retox doing the odd gig on the side, before going to work for the once legendary Café La Belle, until it sadly closed. It didn’t take long, however, before he was getting regular work throughout the touristed south of the island, known as one of the highest quality singers to have worked the quirky entertainment circuit here, he will be missed by the thousands upon thousands he has entertained, and by the large number he has worked with here as a most beloved performer and friend.
Yes there are stories that he could party harder than most (in one birthday escapade literally partying to the point of losing body parts!) however Asa Ashton, in public and in private, was best known here for his human warmth and his kindness towards people, always able to spare a moment for even complete strangers, he always took time to listen and to engage with others, and understood that each of us walks a road filled with challenges and opportunities. He consistently shone with dignity and compassion, and even in light of his immense talent, always presented his humble side.
Of course it was onstage where the depth of his personality really illuminated the countless major events, venues, and bars where he worked to rapturous nightly applause. Though never truly camp nor catty, he most often performed in drag, very much retaining his laid back, charming, natural persona, and is most remembered for the extraordinary power of his voice, displayed as often as not through his mic craft, when reaching long lasting powerful notes he would pull his mic away from his mouth and down past his diaphragm, delighting crowds with his ability to sing over and above the volume of most sound systems almost completely unaided, simply using the mic’s effects and reverb as an instrument to create new layers to the renditions he gave nightly to loyal and enraptured audiences. His voice was golden, as was the man.
To work with him was universally agreed to be a pleasure, in the often competitive and even cut-throat world of entertainment, drag performers and the Yumbo on Gran Canaria, Asa’s vast talent never held him back from working with other artists to create new and interesting performances. Though it is likely that he was most comfortable playing solo, the bejazzled, and big haired, late night lounge room diva, glittering with pathos, picked out of the darkness by a solitary pin spot. His choice of music was wide ranging, and often included well known, sometimes technically difficult, numbers that would wow his audiences. Asked if he liked any particular style he said “I love songs with power, so anything I can belt [out] I enjoy…[I] love the song Zombie.”
From Buddies, to Westfallia, the Cita, to Parrots & Chez Funnyboys, to Diamonds, Gran Chaperal and La Mirage, among countless other regular venues throughout Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas, Puerto Rico and further afield, he gave his all in every show, impassioned and inspired his audiences, made memories that reminded each who watched on, that we are none of us alone. Always keen to get involved with helping others, Asa never hesitated to use his talents to raise money for worthy causes.
In 2018 Asa fulfilled a longstanding dream to open the Maspalomas PRIDE event, on the Yumbo main stage. He felt deeply about the importance of Pride for a community made up of primarily foreigners trying to survive, find meaning and make a living in this strange sunny land, a family of people who have found each other on this small island in a sub-tropical ocean. When asked in 2013 what Pride meant to him he told us “Apart from one massive mash up, a great feeling of unity, all coming together, to celebrate great achievements, and remember past friends and people less fortunate. Pride for me is great, we have some amazing acts, but would be great to see one huge mega star one year, could be me lol” Asa performed many times for PRIDE and just five years later, it was him opening the show to the adulation of all.
His ‘attitude of gratitude’ led him to be somewhat philosophical about the future “I’m the sort of person who’s always happy, and goes with the flow of life,” he said “so you never know what’s in store, take it as it comes, life’s always been good to me”
A consummate performer and “complete entertainer” Asa delivered starlight into the lives of practically everyone he met, whether in person or on stage, it always felt personal, and you felt special in his company. He was never so much a ‘female impersonator’ per se as he was a great showman who may happen to be in a sparkling dress, or chic pant suit, or even in simple civvies. His raw power and ability was simply undeniable, that he loved glamour too only enhanced his visual presence. but he was beautiful regardless of what he wore, you see it shone from inside.
He always wanted to connect and you to feel connected to him not just as an entertainer, but as the deeply caring individual he was, and to connect with each other through our common experience of life, love, heart ache and glamour, and so, often, once he had captured your undivided attention, perhaps even your adoration, he would let you in to ‘the secret’ that he had hidden before you in plain sight the whole time. Breaking the illusion he had just created with one last song, he deftly removed his wig to reveal, that underneath all the glamour and shining beauty, lay simply Asa; living, loving, laughing along with you, one last song to end the show., to break the spell and rejoin the party as one among us, one of us, who is sure to be most deeply missed as a community starts to try to come to grips with how big a void he is likely to have left in our hearts and lives, and how many wonderful happy memories he has given us here on Gran Canaria.
Asked in an interview if he could have one golden wish come true, what would it be, he hesitated, took some time to think, even went to make a cup of tea while he pondered the question, returning he said “I could say lots here, but I’m gunna go with to be, and for everyone around me to be, forever happy!” seemingly satisfied with this he took a sip, adding, eyes sparkling “Mmm, Lovely cup of tea by the way …”
Gran Canaria misses you already, safe journey, see you soon… Good night Asa, Thank you. RIP
– As a bright new star appears overhead “Heaven just gained one hell of an entertainer.”
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