Up the Skirt
Thirty years after the opening of club one, one of Savannah’s only gay clubs, the artistry of drag shows reigns on, shifting the tides of inclusion to create a more accepting South.
Are you guys ready to have a little fun tonight?” Destiny Myklz’s long legs crisscross as she sashays across the stage in a slinky black dress, microphone in one hand, a shot glass raised in the other. “Sometimes I’m gonna say or do something that offends the s--- outta you and know, from the bottom of my little Baptist heart, I don’t give a f---. If you cannot sit up here and have a good time with a grown man in a pair of heels you got no business being out after dark in Downtown Savannah.”
Everyone in the crowd claps, laughs, and cheers their way through Destiny’s intro. No one leaves. Billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Destiny is the longest running Emcee in the history of the Club One Cabaret and you never know what’s she’s going to say next. Known for dancing, weekly drag shows, and a basement video bar, this boisterous, multi-level club is Savannah’s most well known gay bar and home to Savannah’s most illustrious scene.
“We have such an amazing, diverse cast,” says 2015 Miss Gay America Blair Williams, who is also the club’s co-show director with Myklz. “They’re very talented and it’s a pleasure to share the stage with all of them.”
Williams joined the Cabaret cast 10 years ago, a “once in a while thing” quickly turning into weekly shows. As Show Director, Williams brings her passion for pageantry, love of costumes eye for detail to their second-floor stage. The hard work of the Cabaret cast and Club staff have paid off. This year, Club One was voted “Best Adult Entertainment,” “Best Dance Club,” “Best Bartender: Dawn Dupree,” and “Best Gay Bar/Club” by the readers of Connect Savannah.
“I love seeing our audience enjoy themselves,” explains Williams, who can be found taking photos and chatting with club goers before, between, and after shows. “You never know what someone may be going through, so providing an hour of entertainment that allows them to just laugh or dance and sing along is extremely rewarding. I love our audience makeup and the fact that we attract a wide cross section of people. We get to introduce drag to folk who are seeing it live for the first time.”
A popular tourist destination, Club One shows bring in a mix of locals, bachelorette parties, college students – anyone walking by. People wander in from City Market, drawn in by the energy and sky-high wigs. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender – they all end up on the second floor for a show.
“We provide something no other business in Savannah does,” says Trey Norris, the Club’s assistant general manager. “We do theatre productions, drag shows, comedy revues, live music, dancing, karaoke, and so much more. Everything is in one complex. ”
There are weekly shows every Thursday through Sunday night, bingo on Mondays, and karaoke most weeknights. Miss Gay Georgia America, a regional pageant, was recently hosted at Club One by Williams, and the annual Miss Savannah Pride Pageant took place September 28. They also host monthly StarSearch competitions which culminate in a larger, year-end competition.
The members of the Cabaret aren’t the only ones who grace this stage. There are monthly performances from other local troupes, including the House of Gunt, the Tied and Tasseled Fetish Cabaret, and the Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque Revue. Club One also brings winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race to Savannah, including Violet Chachki, Raja Gemini, Trixie Mattel, and Bianca Del Rio. The Bay Street Theatre also calls the stage home. Their annual performances of The Rocky Horry Show Live! is one of the Club’s must-see productions.
Club One has given back to the community in many ways over the years, supporting local and national organizations by hosting benefits, providing donations, and providing a space and marketing for events.
“I love people,” says former City of Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, a long-time supporter of Club One. “I’m a big supporter of any place that’s going to support people, no matter the color of your skin or sexual preference. As a public official, I felt it was my duty to show the community the good work Club One has done and continues to do for the community.”
Club One has supported the AIDS Walk for Life, Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia, Stand Out Savannah, First City Network, and Savannah Unites. They held a benefit show for the survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, raising almost $8,000. In 2015, as Miss Gay America, Blair Williams raised more than $13,000 for the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.
“The sense of family and community within our staff is unparalleled to any other company I’ve worked for,” says Norris. “Yes, you’re a customer, but what’s more important is that you feel like family.”
To learn more, visit clubone-online.com