The Lady Chablis
The Lady Chablis
Benjamin Edward Knox
March 11, 1957
Quincy, Florida, U.S.
|Died||September 8, 2016 (aged 59)|
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
|Other names||Brenda Dale Knox|
The Lady Chablis (March 11, 1957 – September 8, 2016) was an American actress, author, and transgender club performer. Through exposure in the bestselling nonfiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that reads like fiction, and its 1997 film adaptation, she became one of the first drag performers to be accepted by a wider audience.
Born Benjamin Edward Knox in 1957, Knox had four siblings (two sisters and two brothers), and grew up in Quincy, Florida, but later moved to New York City. Legally her name was changed to "The Lady Chablis" in the 1990s.
Chablis frequently performed at her "home" nightclub of Club One in Savannah, where she was known as the "Grand Empress". Chablis traveled the US performing her show, The Doll Revue, at various venues and special events, such as gay pride gatherings. She also appeared on radio shows. She was a prominent character in John Berendt's best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994), and played herself in the 1997 film adaptation, starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.
The Lady Chablis was featured in the closing segment of the Savannah episode of Bizarre Foods America on The Travel Channel. She joined host Andrew Zimmern at several Savannah restaurants including Elizabeth on 37th. In 2012, she was interviewed in Savannah on the local television and internet talk show "MAMA Knows Best Talk Show" season 2 episode 1. On April 19, 2013 Chablis performed for the grand opening of the short-lived Mama's Cabaret in Lewiston, Maine, with "MAMA" Savannah Georgia.
Awards and titles
In her early career as an entertainer, under the name Brenda Dale Knox, she won multiple titles in drag pageantry including:
- Miss Dixieland 1976
- Miss Gay World 1976
- The Grand Empress of Savannah 1977
- Miss Sweetheart International 1989
- Lady Chablis (1996). Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-52095-4. OCLC 37901705.
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) as Chablis Deveau (credited as Lady Chablis)
- Midnight in Savannah (1997, TV documentary) as Herself
- Partners (1999, TV movie) as Beverly
- Damn Good Dog (2004, video documentary) as Herself
- Bizarre Foods America: Savannah (2012) as Herself
- Real Housewives of Atlanta (2013) as Herself
The Lady Chablis died from Pneumocystis pneumonia in a Savannah hospital at the age of 59 on September 8, 2016. Pneumocystis pneumonia is an opportunistic infection that mainly afflicts those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
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According to Berendt's book, Chablis was a transgender woman; Berendt wrote that he met Chablis as she was returning home from having a hormone injection. In her book Hiding My Candy, Chablis said she had not undergone sex reassignment surgery.
- "The Lady Chablis, Best Known for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Has Died". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Transgender performer Lady Chablis dies at 59; portrayed in best-selling book". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- Griggs, Brandon. "Lady Chablis, transgender star of 'Midnight,' dies at 59". CNN. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- The Lady Chablis Sassy Transgender Figure in Savannah Book, Movie Dies at-59." Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Obituary for The Lady Chablis". Adams Funeral Services, Inc. Savannah, GA. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- "De Alba on Chablis" – David-de-Alba.com
- Chokshi, Niraj (September 8, 2016). "The Lady Chablis, Sassy Eccentric in 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' Dies at 59". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- Brian Kovalski (Savannah Georgia'Mama. "Brian Kovalski – Lowell (Massachusetts)". Facebook. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
- "Domain Default page". Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Broverman, Neal (September 8, 2016). "Lady Chablis, Trans Icon and Savannah's Grand Empress, Dead at 59". The Advocate. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
- Chokshi, Niraj (September 10, 2016). "The Lady Chablis, Sassy Eccentric in 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' Dies at 59". The New York Times.
- Theodore, Bouloukos (1996). Hiding My Candy. New York: Pocket Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-671-52095-3.