Anne Gillin, an Ocean Beach icon
by Victoria Maidhof
Published - 10/11/16 - 02:35 PM | 22814 views | 0 0 comments | 745 745 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anne Gillin
Photo by Victoria Maidhof
Anne Gillin Photo by Victoria Maidhof
Anne Gillin, known by the locals in OB as Annie, “Queen Anne,” or “Victoria,” was an Ocean Beach icon – a celebrity of sorts. Though few knew her intimately, she was a conspicuous presence in the wider community.

Standing 4 feet 10 inches tall, she typically dressed in black patent leather high heels, mini skirts, red lipstick and plenty of cleavage regardless of the weather. Anne could be seen strutting up and down the streets of Ocean Beach and Point Loma, stopping at her favorite cafes to preach the gospel to anyone who would listen, or sunbathing and skinny dipping at Bermuda Beach, one of her favorite places in San Diego. When confronted with complaints of her nudity, she didn’t hesitate to offer a retort, seemingly immune to the criticism of strangers.

Anne spoke fondly of her childhood, family, and her home country. Born on the Island of Malta, but raised and educated in Victoria, Australia, Anne started her career as a secretary in Queensland, AU, which is where she was given the nickname “Queen Anne.”

At the age of 22, she had grown bored of her job, so she left for the States with her younger sister, hoping to make it in Hollywood. They landed in Ocean Beach, San Diego, and were so taken with the neighborhood that they decided to stay.

Anne eventually married, had one son, and then divorced. She raised her son in OB, supporting them by modeling and eventually, exotic dancing. She loved her dancing career; however, after more than 20 years in the industry, she was forced to retire. With no retirement plan or benefits, Anne struggled to make ends meet by hustling at the docks and convenient stores, in addition to relying on the community to help her out with food, shelter, and money when times got tough.

Despite her situation, Anne remained optimistic. When she didn’t have access to a shower, she used those at Dog Beach. Without a permanent residence, she kept a storage locker, regularly using it to change into fresh clothing. During more prosperous times, Anne stayed at various hotels around town, including the Motel 6 on Pacific Highway and The Heritage Inn in Point Loma. She relished the comforts of hotel amenities, including hot showers, clean sheets and free coffee.

Around 2005, Anne began feeling that she may have a mental illness, so she sought the assessment of a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia. A deeply religious woman, Anne believed that she was a prophetess sent to earth by God to complete a mission. Given her religious beliefs, she opted to avoid medical treatment, instead relying on the power of prayer to heal her.

Anne was also an Elvis fanatic, leading her to divide time between OB and Las Vegas. She enjoyed Elvis impersonator performances and watching the trapeze artists at Circus Circus. At one point, she found herself in love with a well-known Elvis impersonator and hoped they would eventually marry. She believed that God would restore her youth and they would have a child together.

In late April 2015, Anne’s belongings were discovered scattered all over the small wading beach at Shelter Island, and her body was found lifeless. Despite the suspicious whispers amongst the locals, the coroner's report stated that the official cause of death was accidental drowning with no foul play. She was 63.

A celebration of Anne’s life was held at Bermuda Beach with many in attendance.

Victoria Maidhof is a local photographer and writer.

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