SAN ANTONIO (CBSDFW.COM) – The curtain fell for the last time Tuesday on iconic Texas drag performer Sweet Savage (Freddie Cortez) of San Antonio who died following a lengthy illness.
Non-profit Pride San Antonio posted a tribute to the performer, best known for her Cher impersonation and colorful career spanning nearly 40 years. It read in part:
“Savage was a dear friend of Pride San Antonio and a REMARKABLE performer. Thanks so much for making San Antonio a little SWEETER and for PROUDLY representing our city. We will miss you beyond belief. Thanks so much for helping Pride Bigger Than Texas get to where we are today. From the days of Gay Pride SA to Pride San Antonio you have been a major influence.”
Born and raised in Edinburg, Texas, just north of McAllen, according to the Angel City Continental pageant organization, Sweet Savage’s drag career began in the 80s. The Dallas Voice listed her titles, which include Miss Gay San Antonio American 1986, Miss Gay Texas American 1989, second alternate and talent winner in the 1989 Miss Gay America pageant, Miss Gay USofA 1993, Texas Entertainer of the Year, F.I. in 1994, Miss Gay Texas USofA Classic 2004, first alternate to Texas Entertainer of the Year, F.I., 2010 and Miss Texas Continental Elite 2016.
Sweet Savage’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes to the late performer following news of her death.
“Just Can’t Believe It . Legendary Entertainer Sweet Savage Freddie Cortez R.I.P Lord Bless You All .Texas Original Diva ,” read one.
Another admirer posted, “Such a sad day for the drag community. The beautiful and talented former Miss Gay USofA Sweet Savage/ Freddie Cortez has passed. Such a great friend even though we rarely saw each other the past 20 years living so far apart. When I was in that horrible car accident while competing at Miss Gay USofA in 1994 in St Louis, Savage reached out to me. She wrote me letters throughout my recovery and that meant so much to me! When I finally got back on my feet (literally), Savage sent me one of her gorgeous beaded gowns to wear for my first pageant back! It was such a hard time in my life, learning to walk again, and Savage was a great cheerleader to me. RIP gal! Your heart off the stage was as big as your talent on the stage!”
Cortez died one week before she would have turned 59.