Chilli Pepper: Beloved Baton Show Lounge performer celebrates birthday in style

Chilli Pepper has been performing as a female impersonator at the Baton Show Lounge for more years than I can remember. When I was single, it was my favorite spot to take family and friends. I even took my husband Chuck there on our first date! The location at 436 N. Clark remains a hot spot among fans, brides-to-be, us and so many others.

ALL of the performers there are wonderful, with boundless energy, a desire to please and personalities as big as all outdoors. Each of them has a large following and you have to stand in line to give them tips. Recently, a male dancer was added and then all hell broke loose with ladies stuffing dollars everywhere they could. It's a great show and it never gets old.

It's been a thrill to get to know a lot of the "girls" personally, offstage, where they're just as delightful. Chilli has been a longtime friend and we always jump at the chance to celebrate her birthday which is always a production in and of itself.

On this particular occasion, she chose to celebrate with friends at Ciao Amore Ristorante, 1134 W. 18th Street. This charming restaurant, with beautiful artwork by Jesus Salgueiro, is just the place for a cozy, delicious, home-cooked meal by chef/owner Cesar Pineda.  For Chilli's birthday, he prepared the largest pan of paella we've ever seen, plus pasta bolognese (one of Chilli's favorite dishes), tamales as big as your head and a cake with a "showgirl" on top in honor of the birthday girl!  Baked by chef/owner/cake artist Laura Neira, it was a pure work of art....even down to the tiny painted fingernails!

Friends flew in from across the country to celebrate with this beloved Chicago legend....we were thrilled to be included!

Happy birthday Chilli from two of your many, many fans!

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