Gigi's Set to Honor Late Detroit Drag Legend Jennifer Holiday Chanel with Memorial Show

Beloved performer was a fixture at the club, her 'favorite place to be'

Jason A. Michael

The iconic former Miss Gigi's Jennifer Holiday Chanel passed away last year. But now, in celebration of her glamorous life, Gigi's is planning a memorial show. The beloved performer and Gigi's staff member will be remembered with an all-star show at Gigi's on Detroit's west side on Sunday, Sept 19.

The show, which will occur in the club's Cabaret Room on the lower level starting at 10 p.m., was initially postponed because of the pandemic.

"Jennifer died in November, and at that point, we were still very much on lockdown," said Maxi Chanel, Jennifer's former roommate, best friend and sister in the House of Chanel. "There was really no opportunity to do anything to celebrate her life or have some closure for everyone. So we just waited until we could do it safely and now [we've] reached the point where we can do that."

Jennifer, who died Nov. 15 following a month-long hospitalization, won the title of Miss Gigi's in 1997. In recent years, she worked the door at the club's popular Fuck You Fridays.

"Jennifer's favorite place to be was Gigi's," said Maxi Chanel. "It's the spot that cultivated our drag careers, so we thought it would be the ideal place."

Performers lined up to honor the late performer who loved to play tennis and was known for her first-rate baking skills.

"Everyone wanted to be a part of the show," Maxi Chanel said. "Jennifer was very much beloved in the community. I just had to reach out and talk to some people and place some calls and everyone was more than willing to participate."

Proceeds from the evening will be split between the American Heart Association and Ozone House, a Washtenaw County-based agency that provides free, confidential and voluntary shelter and support to homeless youth ages 10-20 and their families.

"Jennifer and I have known so many kids that came through the Ozone House program," said Maxi Chanel. "It's a place that has always been great and needs our support to keep keeping on. We have always been passionate about nurturing our gay and trans young people."

Maxi said she is still recovering from the loss of her best friend.

"I am still trying to cope with the idea that Jennifer is not here with me anymore," she said. "It's not been easy. Jennifer and I, we lived together for 18 years. We were best friends for longer than that. … So it's been a lot trying to wrangle this in my brain. I'll be watching a TV show and go to pick up the phone and realize, oh, I can't call her. It's been a lot, but I'm making it. I'm doing the best I can."

While Maxi Chanel will host the show, Angela "Show" Shannon is one of about 15 performers scheduled to take the stage.

"Jennifer was a strong, kindred spirit, a sister that would give you her honest opinion to a fault, good or bad, and I loved that about her," Shannon said. "She was always willing to help, and that's why I love that we are celebrating her life."

In addition to the performance, a 50-50 raffle will take place. There is a cover charge of $10 for 18-20 year-olds and $5 for 21 and over. All door proceeds and performer tips will go to charity. Gigi's is located at 16920 West Warren Ave. in Detroit.