Oh the memories, the memories of being a young soldier in Savannah, Georgia. When you first arrive at a new duty station, one of the things they brief you on are the places you re not to go to. Places where, you are forbidden to go, establishments soldiers are NOT allowed to frequent.
Now, of course, this was piss poor planning on their part, clearly. That generally means, the places on that list are going to be the first place a rebellious private is going to seek out.
This was 1987, and one of those places near the top of the list was, for lack of a better term, a gay bar. They had a great Drag Show, a mizz Lady Chablis….
It was one of my first weekends going to Savannah from Ft Stewart. And Savannah, what a beautiful city, at least back then. I understand River Street has been gentrified since then(see:Ruined). But back then, it was still cobblestone streets, and original, if a little neglected, old archtecture, some 100, some 200 years old.
So we are walking around downtown, really just exploring, finding stuff to do, and quite honestly, enjoying wearing civilian clothes, and being just people, not soldiers.
We stop in at a number of watering holes, and are drinking like prohibition is coming back the next day. We had met a couple of girls, at The Long Branch Saloon, down on River street, I think, and we were continuing our exploration, our pub crawl, if you will, with them in tow.
That is when we came upon the bar, Club One, on Bay Street. It is a three story, 100 year old brick building, and outwardly, not obviously a gay bar. In fact, if the Army hadn’t written down the name of the place for us, we wouldn’t have realized what it was. We would have walked right by, continued on to the obvious nightclub, about a block away.
But Uncle Sam DID identify the forbidden fruit, and we didn’t need a serpent to talk us into taking a bite.
It only took a couple minutes to come to consensus that we were going in…. I won’t say who the one hesitant person was, other than it wasn’t me. Hell no, I was down! Love me a good drag show…..
I should explain, that due to my upbringing, my friends, and my Gay relatives, i had a more enlightened view of Sexuality and alternative lifestyles than was the norm in 1987…
So up those stairs we went…. To the Drag Show. Yup, naughty soldiers wasting no time, going EXACTLY where they were commanded not to go……
Now the show wasnt long from starting, and the seats were becoming hard to come by. One of my buddies really wanted a seat to the back, really wasn’t quite sure he wanted to be there, but we got up there just before the start of the show., so there were no seats left to the back. Nope, ya get there late, ya gonna sit up front, sweatheart…. So that is where we ended up. Not right up front, but definitely close enough to the front. Yup, close enough, to attract some attention from the star.
We were sitting, a couple rows back, but pretty much dead center. Three soldiers, 2 young ladies, dead center, of a crowd, otherwise completely bereft of soldiers, if you know what I mean. It was a mixed bag, all ages and races, but nobody looking very consevative or military, other than us.
And it isnt like we really stuck ouyt, but for the military haircuts. We were younger, west coast rebellious types, ya know, the punk rock kids that ended up in the military, that was us. We were on our weekend, so we were in civilian clothes. As punk rock kids, we had embraced the earings for men as teenagers, and were more than happy to be able to wear thenm with civilian clothing. Another forbidden thing, we couldnt flaunt soobn enough, literally putting earingfs in on the drive of the military post.
But I digress, there we were, prety much front and center, when the show begins.
lady Chablis….. Oh Lady Chablis…. she was amazing. Stunning to look on too. She sang alittle , then started intoher banter. Oh she was saucy, and, it was apparent that she craved, and demanded audience interaction.
She saw, and honed right in on, me. Nothing I could do.. She taunted me as Ishe stalked across the stage toward me… I pulled my date closer, kissed my date… she was still coming.. kissed my date again, damn near pulling her on top of me in our seats… but to no avail.. My date, laughing her ass off, graciously bows out of Lady Hablis ways, bidding her, do as thou wilt, if you will
Yeah… she was no help.. for the next 3-5 minutes, lady chablis cooed and oohed over me, telling the whole audience all the lthings she wanted to do to me, was gonna do to mne, if she managed to get me back to her dressing room
Swore I would come out a whole different man.. yadauyada.. mmmm, she was a saucy dish, i will tell you….. then, then…. she really got to it.
Well the music went up, she straddled me, the crowd roared…. and indeed I came out a changed man.. lol… she rode me like a pony, she did… lyrics allowing, of course.. she was a consumsate professional, after all. She nibbled, stroked, and molested me in all manner of ways.. and though shocked, I enjoyed every second of it. My buddies, and my date, I might freakin add, were enjoying the show as well, egging her on, and laughing to the verge of exguiniation…
In fact, she grabbed my date by the face at one point a little later, to tease her about how well she should be fucking me that night, and going on about how things would go if I was with her, yada yada…. So she better treat me right!
alas, all to soon, the song ended and she had to get on with her act, but she did make promises, if I managed to make it back to the dressing room… How might life have been different…?
But yeah, you might say that The Lady Chablis, gave me my first Lap Dance…..
That ought to settle it for all those crazy stripper former coworkers of mine… None of you were !!! My first was theGrand Empress of Savannah, The Lady Chablis!!!
Nor, if I am being honest, were any of my dancers the best, on the whole, “give them a show, table dancers”, either…. I think that goes to The Lady Chablis as well…… sorry honey……. What we do in our table dances is NOT for public consumption!
At any rate, it was an amazing show, an amazing weekend , really, from what I can piece together.
The best part though, was when my buddies started dogging me about the shenanigans later, next couple of days kind of later. Yeah, they had the audacity to threaten to start telling other guys in the unit about how I was messing around with a tranny, that I was gay, and other such nonsensical teasing bullshit, that you would expect from high school age folks in the mid 80’s.
There was a problem with there plan, however, and I pointed it out to them. You see, as I said, all military personnel were banned from going to this establishment, ALL of us. Meaning, to tell anyone that they had seen me get this special show, would be admitting that they were at the establishment as well.
To snitch me out, would be to snitch out themselves..
And you see, as I also pointed out to them.. I had no problem with anybody knowing I went there, I said. Hell, I intended to go back to the damn place! Couldn’t care less if they told on me.
No, they shouldn’t be threatening me, they should be worried about what I might say, what I might start bragging about… that, that might just sink whatever military careers they thought they might have
What they had forgotten, was I had no intention of reenlisting, of making the military a career. We had only just finished up training, had only gotten to our first duty station, and I was already a burnout.
I already knew I hated it, being in the military, and I actually welcomed the thought of being kicked out… having realized, that legally I couldn’t quit….. yeah, try quitting you go to jail…. get kicked out though… well it was drastic…… but not a real deterrant to having a litte fun…
So I flipped it around on them… and besides, I really didn’t have anything to hide, nothing to be ashamed of…. It was 1987. And I was looking good, dammit, even the Grand Empress said so….. Fuck all the haterz!
Little did we know, I mean how could we, The book wasn’t published until 1994, that we were smack dab in the middle of “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil”? That true to life, if not fully beholdin’ to the facts, story of Savannah, Ga, in the 80’s?
That a few years later, The Lady Chablis played herself in the movie adaption of the book, I think Clint Eastwood produced it.
And no, the murder itself happened in 1981, before i got there. I was however, there for the media circus and general clusterfuck that was the series of trials that engulfed Savannah. Just didn’t have a clue at the time we were living thru a movie. Certainly makes more sense now….
Still, a fascinating time in Savannah, a fascinating time. Glad I was there for it… Wish I had been more aware, more tuned in to what was going on, but alas, I was simply a drunken soldier……
If You Are Interested…The Lady Chablis published her own book, Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah (Pocket Books 1996).
And Of Course, If You Haven’t Read It..Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil