The two looked like characters out of a B movie or a dirty New York speakeasy. Annie, a diminutive little creature, looked like a gypsy in a headwrap and heavy eyeliner. Dee towered over her in an ’80s-esque leopard print sweater and leggings with a pink tulle skirt. When Baby Dee finally appeared an hour after the show was advertised to begin, she sat down at the piano and called into the microphone, “If anyone sees Little Annie, tell her the show has started.”
Soon Annie was located, and the duo launched into their first song (with a little help from a man in the audience to lift her tiny frame onto the stage.) Little Annie’s low, gravelly voice — which sounded like two packs a day and 40 years, if not something a little harder — was deliciously ragged and worn over Dee’s cabaret-like piano. As Baby Dee headbanged and bashed the piano keys, Annie swayed and posed on stage, using her cane as percussion. Two songs into the set, however, Annie stopped the show because she had forgotten to pray. “I’m discombobulated,” she cried. “Our makeup is crap and I forgot to pray.” As Annie knelt by the stage, Dee said a little prayer of her own. “Please Jesus,” she requested sweetly, “make someone get me a Scotch on the rocks. J&B or Dewar’s.”
When she was informed that Amnesia is a beer and wine bar, Dee screamed, “Fuck you, Jesus! I didn’t want your fucking scotch anyway!” before launching into her next dirge.
After, she repented. “Jesus, I’m sorry. Can I have a beer?”
Calling each other exclusively “honey” and “darling” Dee and Annie played, jested, and improvised through an hour-long set that felt about an hour too short. In between songs each woman told fantastic anecdotes from their tremendously colorful lives. Annie spoke about her short time living in San Francisco, when she got held up for food stamps in the Haight. Dee told a story about curating a Christmas show at the Pyramid Club, in which she dressed a 400 lb woman as the baby Jesus and put an Entemann’s chocolate cake down “the world’s biggest diaper.”
Halfway through the set, I realized something amazing. There was absolutely no side conversation through the entire show. Here we were, in a bar in the Mission, and not a single person was idly chatting with their friends. It’s a testament to the amazing showmanship and magnetic personalities of Baby Dee and Little Annie that every eye was on them for the whole hour they played. The crowd was small, but every person was there for them.
“This has turned out to be a really nice show, hasn’t it?” remarked Baby Dee. “Now I’m happy. It took me a while, but now I’m happy.”