Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannahby The lady Chablis, Theodore Bouloukos
The Lady Chablis, the outrageously charming drag queen made famous in John Berendt's bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, takes us on an unforgettable tour of Savannah in her amazing story -- a triumphant woman's life filled with passion, humor, flair, and resourcefulness beyond the imaginings of mere mortals. With the guts of a five-star general and an appetite for life that would make even Madonna blush, Chablis takes us for a whirlwind walk on the wild side, callin' it out and pourin' the T! (truth, as The Lady would say).
It was at a club in Tallahassee that she found her drag mother: Cliff Taylor, better known as Miss Tina Devore, who would set her on the path to stardom. Playing clubs in Atlanta, Chablis began taking hormones to grow breasts, and developed her stage routine -- but it was in Atlanta that she discovered how dangerous prejudice can be when she was arrested for "falsification of identification." "They took my purse and my gowns and they took The Doll to jail, honey..."
Chablis's fan club in Savannah had started up, and, after a detour with "Miss Crystal Meth" that turn The Doll bionic, she began headlining at the Friends Lounge, where she was crowned Grand Empress of the city. Chablis soon formed a club called the S.L.U.W.W., or the Savannah League of Uptown White Women, whose members met for dinner parties knows as P.T.A. meetings (Party, Talk, and Alcohol). At the Pickup, an S&M club ("That's 'stand and model,' girl"), Chablis met her fiance, a "little blond thang" who loves her incognegro (without her wigs and makeup). "Miss Debbie has the qualities that you look for in most men and never find."
The Doll's been busted, dusted, cheated out of men and money ("I wasn't wearing my crown so I could be screwed royally!"). She's lived as the Grand Empress of Scrapin' to Get By, she's beat up bad-mouthed bouncers, known love sweet and tender, mean and rough, legal and outlawed...and she's survived, honey, she's flourished! Hiding My Candy, spiced with her special recipes for such delicacies as Brenda's Kickin' Chicken and Smack Y'Mama's Ribs, also features The Doll's beauty tips and her Blue Book (a very social register). Laugh-out-loud funny, deeply touching, and just as entertaining as The Lady Chablis in person, Hiding My Candy is one dessert you'll find absolutely irrisistible.
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.
- Simon & Schuster Audio
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- Product dimensions:
- 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.80(d)
Meet the Author
Theodore Bouloukos is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.
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Just returned from Savannah where I saw "The Lady Chablis" at Club One-better than her performance in "Midnight In the garden o good and evil"! I was with my husband, son, and future daughter in law and we roared! I am only giving hte book 4 stars because I wish it was longer! The "Doll" has had a fascinating life-still hasn't aged a day-and as a fan of Savannah the book is a must read.