Chicago nightlife icon JoJo Baby has died

Tue. March 14, 2023 9:57 PM by News Staff

jojo baby

photo credit // anthony meade

'JoJo struck me from the beginning as being an absolute one-of-a-kind creator.'

Chicago nightlife icon JoJo Baby - born Joseph Arguellas - has passed away at 51. 

"It's with a heavy heart we say goodbye to JoJo Baby who was so near and dear to us all at Metro & SmartBar, as well as to so many in the drag community," the venue posted to Instagram on March 14. "JoJo knew no boundary to creativity and contributed so much to our nightlife in Chicago and beyond. We take comfort in knowing they will leave a lasting legacy of love and imagination on this world, and we will honor their memory by striving to live our lives in the same way."

A larger-than-life performer in the Chicago club scene for decades, JoJo Baby was most recently the unmistakable host of SmartBar's weekly underground house and disco party, QUEEN!

JoJo grew up in Logan Square with three younger brothers, their Greek immigrant father, and their Native American mother, who was a bunny at the 1960s Chicago Playboy Club.

After being pushed out of the house by their estranged father, JoJo began performing at the age of fourteen with fellow underage club kids at Shelter, Berlin, and Foxy’s.  

JoJo built an eclectic career as a flamboyant drag performer, multimedia artist, dollmaker and hairdresser, who used to do Dennis Rodman’s leopard hair. 

One of the most prominent performers in Chicago’s nightlife scene, JoJo was known for wearing three-foot-tall platform shoes, elaborate costumes and outlandish make-up.

The “original club kid” was also the subject of the Clive Barker documentary, “JoJo Baby.”

“JoJo struck me from the beginning as being an absolute one-of-a-kind creator,” Barker said in 2010

In late 2022, JoJo announced another bout with cancer, prompting friends and performers to organize events to raise money to help pay their medical expenses. 

JoJo Baby was in hospice care when they died, visited by friends and family, according to 5Mag