The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer best known for her role as herself in the 1994 film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” died from pneumonia in Savannah, Ga. on Thursday. She was 59.
Savannah’s Club One, where Chablis was a frequent performer, reported the news on its Facebook page.
“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. … 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,” the Facebook statement reads.
She adopted the name Chablis as a teenager, eventually legally changing her name to The Lady Chablis. John Berendt featured her in his 1994 true-crime novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” She would continue on to star as herself in the Clint Eastwood film adaptation of the book starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.
In an interview with Kim Wade, Chablis detailed her feelings on gender labels.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman and I don’t try to be a woman,” Chablis told Wade. “I just try to be who I am without all the labels people try to put on you.”
“That hurt me so badly to hear people call me a drag queen,” Chablis continued. “I thought celebrity would change the way people looked at me.”
Chablis is survived by her sister Cynthia Ponder.