JoJo Child, Chicago drag queen, membership child and doll maker who ‘broke the mould,’ useless at 51
JoJo Child was a strolling artwork set up.
Perched atop a Homosexual Satisfaction Parade float in 2013, the enduring drag queen wore a parachute cover as a gown that flowed a little bit too effectively within the breeze. Associates fearful that your entire getup, together with its occupant, would possibly blow away.
For many years, JoJo Child labored Chicago’s nightclub scene as a number who greeted folks on the entrance door and partied on dance flooring wearing elaborate selfmade costumes starting from Marie Antoinette to a mermaid to Star Wars Wookiee — creating an environment of enjoyable and acceptance from the second a visitor arrived.
Armed with a stitching needle and the bounty of each day thrift retailer hunts, JoJo Child made their costumes and was restricted solely by their creativeness — which didn’t appear to have any bounds.
JoJo Child was gender-fluid and was comfy with a number of pronouns. Their fiancé, Jason Ecay, thought they/them/their could be applicable for this obituary.
Along with their work in nightclubs, JoJo Child was a doll maker whose work has been featured in museums and a hairstylist who created a few of former Bulls star Dennis Rodman’s beamed-around-the-world coifs.
JoJo Child, who grew up in Logan Sq., was one of many metropolis’s first “membership youngsters” — a scene of younger folks with over-the-top personalities who had been staples of nightclubs within the 90s.
JoJo Child died on March 14 from most cancers at age 51.
A mouth with purple lips and enamel encases the door to JoJo Child’s residence close to Western and Chicago. It was a Christmas current from a number of of their artist mates and the positioning of an all-night vigil final week that noticed folks from all walks of life drop off flowers and different mementos.
As a teen, they hung round exterior the doorway to the now-closed nightclub Shelter, which was down an extended alleyway off Fulton Avenue simply west of the Loop.
Byrd Bardot labored the door to the membership, typically wearing membership child garb that ranged from geisha to bruised-and-battered soccer participant. He picked out folks from the road who’d add to the ambiance and allowed them inside.
“The membership opened at 10 p.m. however nobody arrived till midnight, so I’d be on the market with one bouncer and no person else, apart from JoJo,” Bardot recalled.
“JoJo wasn’t of age to get in and would simply come and sit exterior and hold me firm and watch folks come out and in. It was nearly like a category in life research, simply learning folks and the completely different appears to be like they’d. The entire membership child was simply beginning.”
Earlier than lengthy, they began dressing like a membership child, doing impersonations of well-known drag queens and making mates within the metropolis’s artwork scene.
“Individuals would come out for air and a smoke and JoJo would simply be sitting there and other people thought JoJo labored on the membership they usually’d simply begin speaking,” stated Bardot.
Shelter quickly employed JoJo to bop on stage and enliven the celebration.
“The membership youngsters who had been at all times attempting to one-up one another in several appears to be like,” Bardot stated.
Associates stated JoJo would recall with a smile celebrating their twenty first birthday and the astonishment on the faces of colleagues who stated “Wait, how outdated are you? Simply turning 21? However you’ve been working right here for years!”
Their mom was a hairdresser and medical technician. She referred to as her oldest son JoJo, as in “JoJo, child, it’s time to go to mattress.’
Their father was a chef.
JoJo Child briefly was on observe to turn into a Catholic priest till he dropped out of the now-closed Quigley Prep Seminary after realizing it wasn’t a great match. They left house at 14 after clashing with their father and moved into an residence with a number of membership youngsters roommates.
“JoJo had our mom’s grace,” Jason Arguellas stated. They “at all times handled folks with such kindness.”
JoJo Child — who legally modified their identify to JoJo Child — befriended and was mentored by famend doll maker Greer Lankton.
Ecay hopes their intensive assortment of dolls will find yourself in a museum exhibit.
“He received such infantile elation at seeing a brand new doll,” Ecay stated.
In the course of the pandemic, the couple traveled to Babyland Basic Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia, the place JoJo Child adopted a number of Cabbage Patch Children dolls.
“It was a extremely candy expertise,” Ecay stated.
JoJo Child, who was well known out and in of costume and identified to some because the mayor of Wicker Park, had a sequence of disparaging phrases that had been hurled at them all through this life tattooed on their physique.
Jason Arguella, JoJo’s brother, stated JoJo wore them “like armor.”
Joe Shanahan, founding father of Sensible Bar and Metro who’s identified JoJo Child for greater than 30 years, stated they “introduced the enjoyment” all locations and was a “distinctive efficiency artist of the very best caliber.”
JoJo child was the topic of a documentary produced by filmmaker Clive Barker, who, together with puppeteer Jim Henson and singer Boy George, was one in all their heroes.
Additionally they had a quick look within the film “Get together Monster” by which Macaulay Culkin and delved into membership child tradition.
Along with their brother and fiancé, JoJo Child is survived by one other brother, Justin Arguellas.
Companies are being deliberate.