For decades, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of the Theatre, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest nightclubs, which has hosted legendary Black artists of the era such as Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine, and Nat “King” Cole. As he lays dying, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world, and the remarkable people who helped shape it.
Inspired by the Catholic Saints Day Books, Ziggy curates his own list of Black Bottom’s venerable “Saints,” including a vulnerable Dinah Washington, a defiant Joe Louis, and a raucous Bricktop. The stories of these larger-than-life “Saints” are balanced with tales of local heroes, men and women whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this Black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem. The “tributes” are accompanied by thoughtfully paired cocktails that capture the unique essence of each “Saint.”