Chicago Nightlife Legend JoJo Baby Has Died

Chicago Nightlife Legend JoJo Baby Has Died

Chicago nightlife legend JoJo Baby has passed away.

On Tuesday, March 14, smartbar took to social media to announce the sad news, remembering the iconic artist and party host as someone "so near and dear to us all and to many in the drag community."

"JoJo’s spirit will go unmatched. His kindness, warmth, and generosity will be sorely missed. Until we see you on the next dance floor. Rest in peace," the venue added, though it didn't reveal the cause of death. That said, smartbar previously hosted a benefit event to help with JoJo's medical expenses after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

JoJo was a beloved staple of the Chicago underground, a pioneering drag performer, multimedia artist and accomplished hairdresser, who would host smartbar's weekly LGBTQ+ underground house and disco party, QUEEN!. One of the Windy City's first club kids, his immense impact spanned far beyond the reaches of Chicago as someone who helped bring drag into larger cultural conversation through his creation of ostentatious and attention-grabbing looks, including the masterminding of Dennis Rodman's famed 1998 leopard buzz cut.

On the heels of the announcement, numerous members of Chicago's drag and nightlife scenes joined smartbar in mourning JoJo through online tributes and personal anecdotes, with JforPay writing that it was "impossible to calculate the loss."

"Jojo’s work as a dollmaker, costumer, club kid, hairstylist, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc… has had such a huge impact on me over the many years that I’ve been witness. One of the rare true free spirits," JforPay continued, before Abhijeet tweeted, "jojo baby was an art and cultural icon. they crossed over into so many different fields over the decades, and their loss will be felt throughout chicago nightlife and beyond. heaven is a club, and you’re the main hos."

Meanwhile, Fay Ludes wrote that "if you've worked in Chicago nightlife, you've been touched by the presence of Jojo Baby," while remembering "getting some of my first drag from him" and saying the world is "a much less creepy, kooky, and loving place" without their presence.

You can see what else people are saying about the tremendous loss below.

Photo courtesy of Greg Stephen Reigh