It is with heavy heart that I tell those of you who may be interested that Georgia has lost another Icon. The Lady Chablis, ( Brenda Dale Knox, née Benjamin Edward Knox) has passed away. I lived in Savannah for a time and had the opportunity to see her perform at Club One. I believe that was my first time attending a drag show. I clearly had the honor of starting with the best show out there. She was one sassy drag queen and a transgender celebrity well before the current social trend toward acceptance. She was much-loved in Savannah and you rarely heard her labeled as anything other than a lady because she transcended all labels.
I am certain that the entire town of Savannah is grieving this tremendous loss of a life force that gave the entire town a special spotlight in the media and in the hearts of those who came to know her.
Please click through for the press release from Club One.
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.
Two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it…