JoJo Baby, Chicago Nightlife Legend

Jojo Baby, an influential artist and one of Chicago’s original club kids, has died at 51 years old.

Smartbar announced Jojo Baby’s death in a Tweet Tuesday, saying the artist was “near and dear to us all and to many in the drag community.”

“Jojo’s spirit will go unmatched,” and their “kindness, warmth and generosity will be sorely missed,” the bar wrote.

Jojo Baby was long a fixture in Chicago’s nightlife scene, performing at Debonair Social club in Wicker Park and hosting Queen!, Smartbar’s weekly Sunday night LGBTQ party in Lakeview. They became a legend and inspired decades of people who admired their artistry, kindness and strong sense of community.

Jojo Baby had recently started chemotherapy to treat their third cancer diagnosis, which was found in their liver, lungs and stomach, they told Block Club in November.

Jojo Baby remained active as an artist and drag performer, continuing to host nights at Queen! and displaying a collection of their hand-made dolls in a recent exhibition at Paris London Hong Kong, a private gallery in West Town.

The exhibition, named “The Bandages Are Off,” featured a scene of Jojo Baby’s hand-made dolls to tell visual stories, Chicago Gallery News reported. The name was inspired by Jojo Baby’s struggle with cancer, and the gallery featured works from years ago, as well as dolls they created between rounds of chemo.

In addition to working as a nightlife host and drag artist, Jojo Baby was a performer, multimedia artist, doll-maker and hairdresser.

They have been the subject of several books and films over the past decade, including a 2015 short documentary that focused on the artist’s history and gallery in Wicker Park.

“It’s like a glimpse into the past, before Instagram and building identities online,” producer Justin Moran told the Tribune in 2015.



The documentary follows Jojo Baby during a night out and features interviews with other drag queens and club kids who were inspired by the artist.


BlockClub Chicago did an awesome piece on Jojo  with collections  of  tributes from Social media.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help JoJo Baby’s family with the funeral and memorial services, as well as the preservation of JoJo Baby’s artwork and legacy. Donate now.