The Lady Chablis, the drag queen featured in the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil who played herself in Clint Eastwood’s 1997 film version, has died. The news was posted on her Facebook page by Club One, the Savannah, GA, room where she performed. She was 59. No cause of death was reported.
Born Benjamin Knox on March 11, 1957, in Quincy, FL, the performer used The Lady Chablis as a stage name for her comedy nightclub act. Her character was featured prominently in John Berendt’s Savannah-set 1994 bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Club One’s Facebook post said, “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.” The post added that Chablis was Club One’s first performer when it opened in 1988, “paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah.”
The book centered on the killing of a local male prostitute by an important Savannah socialite. As it gained popularity, Chablis did TV interviews on programs including The Oprah WinfreyShow and Good Morning America. After the film came out, she had a role in the 1999 TV pilot Partners, directed by Brett Ratner, appeared in the first episode of Bravo’s Southern Charm in 2013 and later that year guested on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Chablis’ autobiography, Hiding My Candy, was published in 1996.