Philadelphia drag performer Daelicious O’hare Mizani dies following attack

Daelicious O’hare Mizani
Daelicious O’hare Mizani. (Photo: @_.daelicious on Instagram)

“Right now, the only thing I’m thinking about is justice,” said a performer who goes by Dalyla Mizani Cristal in an Instagram Live around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, May 10. Cristal recorded the video to announce to the community that David “Dae” Manley, also known as the drag persona Daelicious O’hare Mizani, has died.

In the video, Cristal thanked those who have been a friend to Manley and urged them to spread the news or call the press so the community can seek justice.

Manley was staying with his friend Seth in Warrington at the time of his death. In the video, Cristal alluded to Manley being attacked days before his death. Seth confirmed this.

Seth told PGN that he learned about the attack when he picked up Manley from a suburban train station at 8:30 p.m. Manley informed Seth that he had been attacked while he was walking to Fern Rock Transportation Station.

“He had bruising all over his body and was in a lot of pain,” Seth said about Manley’s injuries. Manley said a group of teens attacked him, stating they were going to rob him — pushing him to the ground, beating him all “all over his body,” and kicking him in the groin.

“I took him to the emergency room that night where he was then discharged,” he explained. “They wouldn’t admit him. They said it was just a little internal bruising and gave him some Percocet and sent him on his way.”

Seth said Manley was staying with him at his home where he followed the doctor’s orders to get rest, take his medication, and try to eat. 

Seth explained that Manley seemed to be improving on May 9 before his condition seemed to change. He decided he would take Manley back to the emergency room after work, but when he returned, he found Manley unresponsive. 

Despite urging Manley to file a police report about the attack, Manley hadn’t yet contacted the police.

In the video, Cristal urged the perpetrators to “please just step up.” 

“Turn yourself in because this is unfair,” Cristal said. “This is unfair.”

Friends and family demand answers

“It’s not just me,” Cristal told PGN. “He has a whole family that wants answers right now and I don’t have all of them.”

Local nightlife artists and friends have been sharing videos of Manley and his previous performances to Instagram with the hashtags #justicefordavidmanley and #justicefordaeliciousoharemizani.

Some have urged the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs to get involved. Others are asking supporters to call the mayor and local representatives. Some also question if the hospital where Manley sought treatment failed to give proper care. Many are calling for a full police investigation to shine light on what happened during the attack and on Manley’s cause of death. 

Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore acknowledged to the Philadelphia Inquirer that there’s “a very good chance” Manley was assaulted but added, “…we don’t have any reason to believe the assault was related to his death.”

“Right now, in Philadelphia, we don’t have a report of an assault,” said Police Corporal Jasmine Reilly. “Obviously, if anybody has any information of an assault taking place, we encourage them to come forward and make that report so that we can initiate an investigation.”

The Bucks County coroner’s office told the Inquirer that Manley’s autopsy “showed no signs of trauma or assault-related injuries that could have led to his death.”

Reilly explained that PPD lacks “anything to suggest that there was an assault at this time,” referring to the coroner’s report. This makes it especially critical that anyone with information about a possible assault to talk with the police.

“The office said it does not suspect foul play, and is awaiting the results of a toxicology report to determine the cause of death, a process that could take up to six weeks,” the article continued.

The Bucks County Coroner’s Office did not respond to PGN’s request for follow-up comment by presstime.

Remembering a friend

On May 14, community members are hosting DO IT FOR DAE DAE, a drag show in Manley’s honor to raise funds for the funeral. The event will include a raffle for prizes, such as zoo tickets, art and plants, makeup kits and wigs, and other goodies. It will be hosted by Cristal and drag performers Allyria Everlasting, Eric Jaffe and Vinchelle and featuring “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 16 runner-up Sapphira Cristál as a special guest.

The show will take place at Franky Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor St.) at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. According to an Instagram post from local drag performer Shikita Karr-Prime, those who can’t be present can send funds via Cash App to the username $HunnieJayne with “funeral donation” in the memo.

Manley will be remembered for his vibrant personality and strong stage presence during energetic performances that included acrobatic kicks and splits, skilled hair whips and voguing. 

“He’s one of the best dancers that this city has ever seen. He was known for doing jump-splits off stages and all those stunts,” said Seth, who is also a drag performer and became friends with Manley in the dressing room at shows. “I was always mesmerized by the level and caliber of performer he was. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“He was loved by so, so many other people in the community,” he added. “He had an impact on so many of us. His loss is going to feel like there’s something missing in the community.”

“He was not only my friend,” Cristal told PGN. “He was my little cousin and he was my drag daughter. He was my mentee, and I just want people to know there was nothing he loved more than drag.”

Cristal explained that Manley was first embraced in the drag community because of his talent but was so beloved because of his character.

Community members commented on Cristal’s post expressing sympathy and remembering Manley, who was an active part of the Philadelphia drag and nightlife scene. They described the performer as “such a light” and “an incredibly kind soul who deserved better than this.”

“Our city lost one of its most naturally gifted performers… and a genuinely sweet human,” wrote nellierocketh.

“My heart is so sad today. This is terrible,” wrote thequeenenigma. “Dae was a beautiful person filled with love. So kind and so positive. My heart is broken.”

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta joined the community in mourning via a written statement.

“I am absolutely heartbroken that such a beautiful bright light in our community was extinguished last week,” Kenyatta said. “My thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone in the drag and LGBTQ+ community who was lucky enough to know Daelicious and see his vibrant personality shine through his energetic performances.”

This is a developing story.

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