R.I.P. THE Lady Chablis - True Legend

The Lady Chablis, who stole hearts - and the spotlight - in Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil, passed this morning surrounded by friends and family. 

In his Best Selling novel, known in Savannah as The Book, John Berendt wrote that when he first met The Lady Chablis, “she had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face,” a pose that would grace many stages. 

Just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One’s very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself. 

With the success of “The Book,” Chablis shot to stardom. She was a guest on Good Morning America, and was interviewed by Oprah. She insisted to USA Today that she would play herself in the movie - or there would not be one. She’d be the first to tell you that she stole the show in Clint Eastwood’s 1997 adaptation. Since then, thousands of visitors have come to Savannah, visiting the locations in The Book, and crowding into Club One to see her. 

In 1996, she released her autobiography “Hiding My Candy,” dubbed by her publisher as a cross between The Color Purple and Cinderella. The Doll loved to cook, and included several of her favorite recipes at the back of her book, like Brenda’s Kickin’ Chicken. 

She has long been a giver to the community. Throughout the 2000’s, she worked closely on various campaigns for the American Diabetes Association, donating thousands of dollars raised by her performances to the cause.

She was the headlining entertainer for Savannah Pride’s inaugural celebration, and hosted their Miss Gay Pride Pageant. She would go on to perform, donate and contribute to many LGBT charities throughout her career.

Chablis always wanted to give the audience, be it 15 or 1500, the best that she had. With her declining health, she regretted that her body wouldn’t allow her to give more. Chablis is survived by her sister, Cynthia. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, who request privacy during this time of grief.

Herstory.....

Drag Queens (Female Illusionists) have had a long history on the stage long before Rupaul's Drag Race came to the screens of of the world. In the late 1800's Drag Queen as a term is speculated to have come from the dragging of their victorian garb and the queen was at the time a derogatory word used against the LGBTQA Community. 

Madame Pattirini

Brigham Morris Young was known as Madam Pattirini, Accounts to her falsetto was so convincing no one doubted Madam Pattirini. Drag was a popular and acceptable form of theater in London. 



"Drag doesn't have a clear "big start" but rather several times that it comes in and out of favor in the mainstream. In the 30s drag became hugely popular for a very short handful of years.", one of our resident drag historians, Lady J Martinez O'Neal.

So, It seems that like Rupaul today there are some great names in drag at the time and the biggest is speculated to be ulian Eltinge shown here on this video. He toured simply as "Eltinge" which left his sex unknown and his act included singing, dancing and quick costume changes in a variety of female roles, including a Gibson Girl-like role called "The Sampson Girl".

"Drag's transition to where it is today is extraordinarily complicated, but a simple way to sum it up for a short piece like this would be to say that where drag in the 30s came out of vaudeville and burlesque and nightclubs, now drag takes its influences from everything from pop culture,
Las Vegas showgirls and burlesque to underground art, punk aesthetics, and ironic send up's of pop culture that often celebrate the campy aspects of something while also critiquing and satirizing politics. It's so much more complicated than this", says Lady J.