Sitting on a comfy throne, in this case a swiveling black leather office chair, former Mayor Sheila Dixon was roasted Thursday night at the Comedy Factory at Power Plant Live! in a charity event.
It’s been nearly four years since Maryland state prosecutors raided her Westside house while she was out for her morning workout, the beginning of a raft of legal woes for the city’s first elected African American woman mayor.
She ultimately resigned office in February 2010 as part of a plea deal following her conviction in Baltimore City Circuit Court in December 2009 for stealing gift cards that totaled about $500 donated to the city to distribute to the poor.
Since then, she has served some of her 500 hours of court-mandated community service and worked as a consultant for the Maryland Minority Contractors Association.
Dressed in a saucy orange blouse, black jeans and fancy heels for the roast, Dixon looked rested and ready as she took the stage and boldly signaled for the evening to start.
“The media is here, so what?” Dixon said as the night ramped up, addressing a gaggle of the Fourth Estate, most of whom covered her corruption trial. “Talk to the hand.”
Peter Schmuck, a sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun and master of ceremonies for the event, told Dixon she was about to face the “worst 90 minutes of community service of your life.”
First up was former 12th District City Council candidate Devon Brown, who at 21 and a month away from graduating with a film degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art prides himself as an upstart on the city’s political landscape.
“I know you are a spiritual person,” Brown told Dixon. “And I want to quote scripture. ‘God blesses those who help themselves,’ and you helped yourself.”
The crowd of 100 whooped and hollered. Dixon herself threw her head back and laughed, then shook her finger at the neophyte.
As more slings, arrows and praise flew her way through the night by local comedians, radio personalities and comedic impersonators, Dixon continued to show grace under pressure, laughing and taking notes on a legal pad.
“You are the only woman in America with a court-ordered e-Bay site,” said Kirk McEwan, a local radio personality. “Six hundred dollars in gift cards? Is that what you took? If you were a white man, you would still be the mayor.”
The crowd went wild.
Dixon would get the last word of the night in what turned out to be a stinging rebuttal as she said of the night’s critical comedians, “I hope they have other jobs.”
“After it was announced that I was going to do this,” Dixon said, “I had 100 people call me up and say ‘Are you crazy?’ What the hell? Who cares?”
She also had an offer for local comedian Maria Sanchez, who came on stage with a rugged look, wearing a white t-shirt and baggy sweatpants with “CCBC” on the left leg. Sanchez told Dixon, “You are a good lady — with bad habits.”
Dixon blasted back in her rebuttal: “Maria, I am a gift from God. And, honey, I’m going to take you to my hairdresser — with a gift card!”