Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah

Overview

After leaping off the pages with he unforgettable debut in John Berendt's bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the unabashed personality known as The Lady Chablis now brings her irresistible charisma to the remarkable odyssey of fabulousness that USA Today calls "sassy" and "provocative...."

Born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Florida, "The Doll" always knew she was different. At a Tallahassee club, in her teens, she found the drag mother who would set her on ...

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Overview

After leaping off the pages with he unforgettable debut in John Berendt's bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the unabashed personality known as The Lady Chablis now brings her irresistible charisma to the remarkable odyssey of fabulousness that USA Today calls "sassy" and "provocative...."

Born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Florida, "The Doll" always knew she was different. At a Tallahassee club, in her teens, she found the drag mother who would set her on the path to stardom. Before long, The Lady Chablis had a headline drag act replete with trademark saucy wit, down-home wisdom, and, of course, breasts. The rest is "Miss Thang" history....


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Chablis is a full-time transvestite. In clinical terms, she is a preoperative transsexual," John Berendt explains in his introduction. Chablis takes it from there, presenting a sassy, tongue-in-cheek version of her life story, which she began as Benjamin Edward Knox in 1957. She recounts growing up in Florida as a self-confessed "sissy-child"; recalls being abandoned by both her mother and father and being raised by her classy grandmother; and notes the problems she and her family had coming to terms with her sexuality. She tells of her imprisonment for shoplifting; her debut on stage as a female impersonator in Atlanta in the mid-1970s; taking hormones to grow breasts; and the high cost of electrolysis. After winning the Miss Gay World Pageant, Chablis moved on to Savannah, where she changed her act to include stand-up comedy. Writing with freelancer Bouloukos, Chablis presents a good-natured biography that covers the gamut from sexual adventures with unsuspecting straight males to beauty tips and a listing of her favorite recipes. Photos. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Lady Chablis, the most unforgettable character in John Berendt's best-selling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (LJ 1/94), stirs up the past to tell all in this witty and entertaining autobiography. Born Benjamin Knox in 1950s rural Florida, Chablis (a.k.a. Y'mama, a.k.a. the Doll) is technically a preoperative transsexual. Being no average drag queen, Chablis more than hides truth of gender by parodying femininity with a lifelong performance beyond any nightclub's. A bittersweet story filled with abuses and ambitions, Chablis's life is a mix of bawdy vaudeville and Southern gothic. The Lady also offers a chapter of homestyle recipes, a glossary of Chablisisms, and a guide to transvestite beauty and fashion. Berendt's introduction calls Chablis "a gifted comedienne whose humor is instintive...[with] a flair for the outageous, andI trust she'll forgive me for saying soballs." The same could be said for this book.David Nudo, "Library Journal"
Mike Tribby
Readers of John Berendt's best-seller, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1994), have already met Lady Chablis, known as Frank in that book. She is the self-styled grand empress of Savannah and, by her own admission, the most dedicated and accomplished drag queen of the New South. Combining traditional southern gentility with sharp wit and an unerring sense of style, she tells her life story, from a childhood spent in Florida, with a brief sojourn in New York, to the runway treading of her present glory days. Through her eyes, the South becomes the perfect setting for a female impersonator totally dedicated to the cause of outrageous entertainment and self-realization. Emphatically not a transsexual, the Doll (as she also calls herself) is a unique and vivacious being, possessed of her own evocative idiolect (helpfully, she provides "The Lady Chablis Lexicon" to explain her terminology of the female impersonator's world). Surely there's a place for this book on the pop culture shelf--say, between recent bios of Divine and RuPaul?
Kirkus Reviews
A brassy, forthright autobiography from the flamboyant, cross- dressing black diva made famous by John Berendt's bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

As Berendt's admiring introduction notes, The Lady Chablis is a legal name, adopted as much for copyright protection as to define her identity. That's typical of the savvy, self-promoting Grand Empress of Savannah: She bills herself as a performance artist rather than as a drag queen. Controlling perceptions of herself (and generally getting her way) is a top priority for the willful Chablis. Labels having always been an issue, she prefers to name herself. Chablis's talent emerged early; she started performing in drag at age 14. Her defiant embrace of femininity earned beatings from her abusive parents but acceptance from small-town Florida neighbors. Chablis candidly relates a string of professional and personal troubles, including struggles with drugs and alcohol, battles with unscrupulous club owners, and a series of unsatisfactory romances; her honesty provides substance beneath the sass. Like her nightclub act, which evolved from lip-synching disco tunes to politically charged monologues, her life, as she comes to see it, is about the struggle to find a voice and to gain respect. After she's arrested for the possession of drugs (she has to explain why she calls herself Brenda Knox when her driver's license says that she is Benjamin Knox, her birth name), Chablis confronts the question of how to force the world to accept her as a woman. She considers but rejects sex-change surgery, opting instead to be her outrageous self without giving up her "candy." She remains a preoperative transsexual, a clinical definition that answers the most tiresome question directed at her but inadequately describes the verve and boldness with which she has lived her life and recounts it here (aided by freelance writer Bouloukos).

A funny, combative walk on the wild side, told with tremendous heart and charm.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671520946
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodore Bouloukos is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.

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