Savannah Heritage Tours Blog

Take a journey back in time with Savannah Heritage Tours where three centuries of history will come to life as you explore Savannah, Georgia.

The Lady Chablis - A Cultural Icon

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Savannah, Ga, recently lost one of its most cherished figures - the incomparable Lady Chablis. She was an author, actress, and performer from Florida who made her home in Savannah. More specifically, she considered her home to be Club One, the nightclub where she perfected and performed her drag show for over three decades, right up until her last months. When she died this September of pneumonia the very roots of Savannah were shaken by the loss.

The Lady Herself 

Even though she never finished high school, Lady Chablis was an inspiration and an icon to all who admired her unapologetic courage in being herself. She prided herself on speaking the truth, with a healthy dose of common sense thrown in, no matter how unwelcome it may be. It was who she was, and if you didn't like it she had better things to do. Her vivacious attitude towards life can never be expressed more eloquently than she did herself in her best-selling autobiography Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography Of The Grand Duchess Of Savannah. At its release it as lauded as sassy and provocative, two words that can be applied without hesitation to The Lady herself. 

The Book

Of course, you can't talk about The Lady without mentioning the book and movie that propelled her to stardom. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil is a fictionalized retelling of the real murder trial of Jim Williams told through the eyes of a young writer pursuing the story. In his quest for the truth, journalist John Kelso is confronted with the history, culture, and mystique of the city of Savannah. He meets several eccentric characters including the socialite antiques dealer on trial, a voodoo practitioner, and of course The Lady Chablis herself.

When the movie based on the novel was announced, Lady Chablis made an announcement of her own - that she would be the only one to represent herself on screen. Author John Berendt and director Clint Eastwood agreed. Since she was the ultimate authority on the character she was playing, her unreserved, biting yet wise observations were delivered with that undefinable panache that only she could provide. The result was a performance containing so much emotional truth that she was instantly and irrevocably lodged in the nation's consciousness, one of the first LGBT icons to achieve such recognition. No one can deny that she changed America's perceptions and consciousness of the gay community in ways that are still reverberating throughout our culture today. 

Learn More

Anyone interested in learning more about The Lady Chablis and the book and movie that extended her influence across the entire United States can schedule a guided historical tour with Savannah Heritage ToursAs well as seeing sites featured in both the fictional and real lives of the characters in the book, the tour provides a unique perspective by focusing on the true fact behind the events that inspired the cultural phenomenon that is known simply as "The Book" in Savannah.

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