Six Things to Know About the Pie Ladies
Rehoboth is known for its family-friendly July 4 fireworks show. Thousands of folks decamp to the beach to watch the annual nighttime display over the Atlantic Ocean.
But there’s an alternative display around the holiday, a campy affair for Rehoboth’s gay families and friends. For the past 15 years, an ad hoc troupe of drag performers known simply as The Pie Ladies have traveled about town delivering pies to celebrate Independence Day. Inquiring minds want to know….
1. Who are the Pie Ladies? I could name the men behind the makeup, but I shall respect the Pie Ladies’ desire for discretion and keep their identities a secret. Did you know they were once mentioned on the Today Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee? No names, of course. Hush hush.
2. How did it all start? The Pie Ladies believe they delivered their first pie back in 2003. The gesture of neighborliness and goodwill had its beginning in a small town in South Dakota where one of the ladies grew up. The first Pie Lady wore a vintage Lilly Pulitzer and her only makeup came from a tube of ruby red lipstick. My, how times have changed.
3. Who makes the pies? Pies are always procured from local farmers markets—first Bozie’s, and now Fifers. One time they were made by a caterer in Washington, DC, and included a whipped cream frosting, which meant they had to be driven three hours in a car chilled to 60 degrees. The first year they delivered seven pies. This year it will be 75.
4. What is this year’s theme? The Pie Ladies have explored a myriad of topics ranging from politics to the movies to baked good divas, i.e. Betty Crocker, Little Debbie, and Sara Lee. One year they celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in velvet, corsets, hats, high collars, and ruffles. In 107° heat! Needless to say, the Pie Ladies guard their theme as ferociously as they do their reputations, revealing all only on the big day. Let’s just say that this year’s theme is inspired by The Big Apple.
5. Is liquor involved? It’s hard work performing skits and delivering pies over several hours in the July afternoon heat. So, naturally, a Pie Lady needs a little refreshment. In addition to hiring a sober driver, they brace themselves with shots of Fireball before each performance and guzzle cocktails at some stops where the hosts take pity on a thirsty girl. And while there have been a few injuries over the years—a broken rib, a lost tooth, and multiple twisted ankles from the high heels—only once has a Pie Lady suffered the indignity of tossing her cookies on Rehoboth Avenue.
6. What does the future hold? 4th of July pies have arrived by pontoon boat, convertible cars, a ’70s era Chevy Van, and, more recently, on the Jolly Trolley. The Pie Ladies one day dream of delivering pies via parachute onto Poodle Beach. What could go wrong? ▼
Rich Barnett is the author of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town, and Fun with Dick and James. More from Rich Barnett.
Editor’s note: Keep on the lookout on Thursday, July 5. If you’re lucky, you can catch the Pie Ladies at one of their many stops around town.