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The Man Who Came to Dinner 


Wednesday, Aug 25 1999
God is a woman.

Everyone knows that.

Who else could make a plum? A hummingbird? Or Ally McBeal?

Who, but a woman, could be responsible for shy little girls hiding behind their fathers' legs? Or the taste of tears running down a cheek? Not to mention women's propensity for multiple orgasms, and the fact that their sexual enjoyment increases as they get older. Oh, yes, God is most definitely a woman. And I'm quite sure she got a kick out of planting that lovely patch of hair across the top of my back.

But what about the devil? Could Satan be a she? Could the Prince of Darkness really be a princess? Lucifer, a lass?

Well, no. Duh. That would be stupid.

But there is one group of women spreading a similar brand of sin throughout San Francisco's Mission District and beyond. They have been to the depths of hell and back. They have seen the face of evil, and its name ... is synchronized dancing.

The Devil-ettes are now 20 or so women strong, and growing. In less than a year they have blossomed from their humble Radio Valencia Talent Show roots into one of the city's most sought-after opening acts. Arrayed in matching black, rhinestoned costumes and silver sombreros, the saucy group of modern-day she-devils has been paying line-dancing homage to the retro-trash kitsch of the '60s and '70s all over town. Next stop ... Vegas, baby.

I was fortunate enough to be invited into their inner sanctum for a ritualistic induction of four new Devil-ettes, complete with ceremonial vows, burning flesh, and, of course, a potluck dinner.

As I cautiously entered the apartment in which the evening's ritual was to take place, I spied the flock of Devil-ettes darting from room to room, little fiery-red horns perched atop their heads. Before venturing in to introduce myself I made what would be the night's only entry in the official Man Who Came to Dinner notepad: "Many women."

Just then I was spotted in the doorway. All heads seemed to turn at once, the music screeched to a stop, and I was greeted with a collective "Hi."

Nearly as quickly, the music returned to full volume, and I was swept into a swirling sea of blissful debauchery. Names and faces passed in a blur. (Well, there were, like, 20 of them, after all.) Thankfully I was partially saved by the astounding coincidence that all Devil-ettes share the same first name: The.

First I met The Cheerleader, The Heartbreaker, and The Interrupter. Then The Enforcer greeted me with a Castaway, a little round tiki glass filled with rum, Kahlúa, and pineapple juice. Floating on top was a flaming half of a lime, ablaze in 151. Zing! Moving between the crowded living room and the kitchen, I sampled the wide array of delicacies perched on virtually every level surface. In fact, I was surrounded by recipes honed in some of the nation's finest trailer parks. There was deviled ham on white toast points, platters of deviled eggs, and bowls of Red Hots. Get it?

I thanked The Cheerleader for inviting me to the induction ceremony and re-confirmed that it was all right for me to witness the upcoming events.

"We don't like secrets," she assured me. "We want people to know how sick and wrong we are."

Looking for more proof, I made small talk with The Young One, The Catholic Schoolgirl, The Sleeper, and The Danger Girl. While western-themed music blared on the stereo, a video of '70s TV dance parties looped on the television. I took a seat on the couch and The Temptress rushed in to present me with a plate loaded with various dishes from the kitchen. Jambalaya, jalapeño corn bread, pasta salad, and my favorite, Fried Devil Dogs, with barbecue sauce.

"What the hell are these?" I asked.

"They're Little Smokies, dipped in batter and fried," she explained.


After I'd downed a dozen Devil Dogs, The Temptress returned with a bunch of grapes, which she insisted (despite my protests -- really) on feeding me. Her subsequent trips to the kitchen yielded cheese fondue, baked yams with garlic, shish kebabs, pigs in blankets, and several other things that I can't remember.

"I can't be having women feed me," I finally protested. "Especially in front of other people! This is the '90s."

Then -- somehow -- the topic of orgies came up, and I learned that the Devil-ettes have been invited to perform this Halloween at some crazy, '60s Trash-Bash at the Gold Coast Casino in Vegas. In addition to the Devil-ettes and a weekend full of bands, the festival poster promises "Cheap Liquor" and "Lowbrow Art." In order to fund their trip the Devil-ettes are hosting a toga party this Monday at Cafe Du Nord, which will feature an "Orgy Room and Vomitorium. But not in the same area," they assured me.

I was still unsure of what, exactly, the Devil-ettes do. One member tried to explain, asking, "Have you ever paid any attention to synchronized swimming?"

"Uh, no," I confessed proudly.

And so they were forced to show me.

As the current Devil-ettes lined the room in anticipation, the four would-be pledges entered to perform their final auditions. Beginning with an ass-slapping rendition of the Bunny Hop, the budding dancers swung around the room in an incredibly enthusiastic, if somewhat less than synchronized, routine.

The audience squealed and hollered. (I believe I even contributed a "Yee-ha!") When the pledges had finished, The Enforcer lined up the four newest Devil-ettes to present them with their very own horns. "Every time you wear them," she explained, "you will be reminded that you are indeed a Devil-ette, and promise to live up to the code of honor to the best of your ability."

"Unless you're drunk," clarified The Cheerleader.

The Enforcer then went down the line dubbing each girl. "From this point forward you will now be known as ...The Daddy's Girl ... The Galaxy Girl ... The Phoenix ... and The Trophy Girl."

As a final step in the Devil-ette ritual each girl was asked to raise her hand and repeat the Queendom of the Devil-ettes Code of Honor:

On my honor, as a Devil-ette, I vow to be loyal, to smile and be silly, to wear plenty of lipstick and glitter, and be synchronized in my dancing.

The final order of business was the naming of the newest Devil-ette of the Month. In a heartfelt speech, The Enforcer announced that the recipient of this month's honor, "The Devil-ette who has served beyond all the other Devil-ettes and did something extra special" (like feed Barry) "is our beautiful and wonderful and fabulous -- The Temptress!" The Temptress was quickly draped in a Miss America-style sash lettered with "Devil-ette of the Month."

The celebration continued as the troupe squeezed into the living room to give me a private, kick-ass performance of the full Devil-ettes in action.

By then the Castaways had really kicked in, and I believe, uncharacteristic as it is, The Man Who Came to Dinner actually shook it out there with the Devil-ettes themselves. When the night finally did began to wind down I found myself spent, in a chair, a pair of borrowed horns atop my head, surrounded by a bevy of Devil-ettes. Some discussion ensued about whether my horns were too hard. "That would be impressive at my age," I suggested.

When I told The Young One how old I was, she agreed, "Oh, you're way past your sexual peak."

Before I could crawl out of there, the girls piled around me for some snapshot evidence -- I mean mementos -- of our evening together. As we posed for the camera I tried to make some kind of sense out of my extraordinary good fortune in life -- in perspective to issues of greater importance. In the end, tired and drunk, I decided maybe it really does come down to what my father always told me: "The more Ettes, the better."

Thank you, God.

Want to host The Man Who Came to Dinner? E-mail and tell us what's cookin'.

About The Author

Barry Levine


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