by Steve Desroches
Top Image: Anita Cocktail – Photo by Jen Bonin
It was a contrast of two very different Saturday mornings in Provincetown. One couple, two men in flip flops, shorts, and t-shirts…the kind with the sides cut out, shuffle toward the entrance of the Post Office Café. They’re hung-over. They arrived in town the night before and hit Commercial Street hard. Thus the added apparel of sunglasses and baseball hats pulled down low. They need mimosas and eggs, pronto. This being Provincetown, there is of course a drag show at brunch, too, as they venture into Anita Cocktail’s Saturday Change-Over Brunch. Soon they’re smiling, hangovers be damned.
Shortly after, another couple, two men in sneakers, gym shorts, and t-shirts…the kind with the sides cut out, bound up to the door. They’ve just finished a run on the West End Breakwater. And they’re hungry. Plus they feel accomplished by their athletic morning and want mimosas as well. An up down from the drag queen about to perform communicates an approval of the results of their workout. Have a seat boys, the show is about to start, she says with a playful wink. Soon they, too, are laughing and smiling as they chomp on bacon. And they’re happy as they still have a whole other week of vacation ahead of them.
Saturday’s drag brunch at the Post Office Café is the creation of Anita Cocktail, the queen bee of the storied Provincetown venue. It’s of course for everyone, but as the tourist rhythms of town have changed relatively recently and Saturday has become the most common arrival or departure day, she thought a festive drag brunch would be the perfect way to begin or end your vacation, or work week, or whatever. A little sparkle with scrambled eggs and toast is a decidedly Provincetown way to brunch. Based on the applause and muffled hoots coming from full mouths, the crowd agrees. But there’s more to the Post Office Café’s drag brunch than meets the eye. It’s also a bit of a living memorial. It conjures and honors the spirit of the late Dixie, otherwise known as David Federico, the longtime manager of the favorite breakfast spot in town who died in 2008. He was a bona fide Provincetown character, which in this town is like being part of a royal family. His antics are legendary, and while over time a touch of mythology has spun into these stories, they are largely true. If he had ever served you at the Post Office you wouldn’t soon forget it.
“If you were on the receiving end of Dixie’s sass it was something else,” says Mike Steers, the man behind Anita Cocktail. “He was just so typically Provincetown. Was he a good waiter? No. But he made it so much fun no one cared, for the most part. If he didn’t like the table, well, that was another thing. You couldn’t help but love him, though. Dixie was outrageous.”
Stories of Dixie’s antics still waft through the ether of Provincetown lore. While specific details may change, the core of each tale is true. For instance, one summer day four gay guys came into the Post Office Café and ordered iced tea. Apparently they felt Dixie took too long to bring their drinks so they left and went across the street to the Mayflower. Upon finding the table had left, an indignant Dixie left the Post Office, tray in hand, walked into the Mayflower, found the impatient diners and slammed the iced teas down one by one and then left a bill. Then she spun on her heels and walked out. In some versions it’s a straight family and in others the men are drinking mojitos, but the spirit is the same. Now, Steers makes it quite clear that the service at drag brunch is quite good, and the sassiness comes from only the performers while playful is never mean. But the spirit of Dixie is always there, so much so that the bar upstairs in the cabaret is named in her honor with a picture soon to grace the wall.
Steers has assembled a rotating crop of queens from around New England to make guest appearances each Saturday, including Abby Cummings, Ania Bangkoks, Bianca Knigght, Khloe Glamour, Savannah Devereaux, and more. And on this particular July Saturday, Glamour shimmies and shakes in a leopard print dress drawing attention away from omelets and buttermilk pancakes eliciting smiles and dollar bills waving in the air. Anita Cocktail comes out and shakes it up some more, gently teasing, but definitely serving a side of sass with those sunny-side-up eggs. Dixie would be proud.
“When it comes to stories about Dixie, whatever it is you heard, it’s probably true,” says Steers. “She even got thrown out of a show upstairs for being too loud! When you come to drag brunch be ready for fun, but no one can compete with Dixie, God love her.”
Anita Cocktail’s Saturday Change-Over Brunch is every Saturday through September 18 with three seatings each day at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. Tickets ($10) and reservations are available at the box office and online at postofficecafe.net. For more information call 508.487.0008.