Overview of Drag Bingo
Bingo and drag queens are a match made in heaven, and the sensational, sassy drag bingo events that are enjoyed the world over have their roots in a very good cause indeed.
The first iterations of drag bingo came out of efforts to raise money for charities supporting people with AIDS in the 1990s, with Judy Werle pioneering the idea of employing fabulous gay hosts to liven up the game of bingo in the city.
Judy was director of development for AIDS charity, The Chicken Soup Brigade, and she wanted to find new ways to raise money and draw attention to the important work she was doing. She identified bingo halls as a place where people would go to spend money, and that might benefit from some lively new hosts to up the entertainment factor while people played.
To help out, Judy enlisted The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a now legendary charity, protest group, and street performance organisation that has since established branches (or ‘motherhouses’) all over the world. These drag queens brought their convincing nun costumes and outrageous behaviour to the bingo clubs of Seattle, and Judy Werle soon had a hit on her hands.
The early success and popularity of drag queen bingo events, in which pop music and extravagant hosts run bingo games with extra pizzazz, stretched beyond the gay community and soon began to spread outside of America.
Nowadays drag bingo takes place almost everywhere you can find bingo clubs, spreading joy and boosting LGBT rights all over the world.
What to expect at Drag Bingo
No two drag bingo events and the same, and the kind of night you’ll have depends very much on the personalities of the drag queens involved.
You should certainly expect plenty of outrageous fun, cheesy pop tunes, fabulous outfits and no shortage of dance moves, as well as the chance to help raise money for marginalised people.
Expect the banter to be fierce at any drag bingo night you attend, and if you’re not ready for a night of sexual innuendo and playful mockery of anyone in sight, you might want to choose another event!
If you’re in the United States you may well find one of the contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race hosting a drag bingo event near you, with many of the show’s stars lending their celebrity status to charity events.
Amsterdam lays claim to one of the most well attended drag bingo events on the planet every Tuesday night, when happy bingo players rub shoulders with drag queens from all over the world at the Dutch city’s oldest gay bar, The Queen’s Head.
London’s first drag bingo event took place at the Japanese restaurant Tonkotsu Ramen, where Cara Melle and Tayce went down so well with the crowds that drag bingo now takes place somewhere nearly every night of the week in the capital.
Wherever you find yourself playing drag bingo, remember that it’s all for a good cause, so give yourself a pat on the back while you go for those fabulously big wins!
Drag Bingo games and prizes
Games of drag bingo can, in their essence, be very traditional, with players dabbing paper bingo cards for one line, two lines, and a full house. However, the prizes will often be out of the ordinary, and the games tend to last longer than usual to make time for all sorts of fabulousness!
Any cash raised at drag bingo tends to go to good causes, but winners could still find themselves walking away with huge bunches of flowers, bottles of bubbly, and somewhat ruder prizes that we won’t mention here!
There will be lip-syncing, comedy skits, dance-offs and all the banter you can handle, and all of this can take place before, after, or during any game of drag bingo. The best plan is to expect anything and everything to happen, and be ready to go with the flow and have the time of your life when it does!
Food and drink at Drag Bingo
Some drag bingo events include food offerings, and all of them involve (usually large amounts of) drink!
Ginger’s Big Drag Bingo in London regularly provides players with pizza to keep them nourished while their numbers come up, and Ginger also hosts a Big Drag Brunch which she describes as “the most camp and outrageous event to grace London’s bottomless brunch scene”. At her brunch, Ginger makes sure the prosecco is flowing while serving up a two-course meal and bottomless drinks for £45.
Other drag bingo events feature snacks, sugary treats and all sorts of drinks deals as part of the experience, but it’s important to check on your event’s bingo sites UK or ticket details to find out whether it’s a good idea to arrive hungry.
Drag Bingo online
Drag bingo is in such high demand that it even exists in virtual form these days, and you can use Zoom to log on and play with drag queens from all over the world as your extravagant hosts.
Simply run a search for ‘virtual drag bingo’ and peruse the many drag queen entertainment businesses offering online experiences involving your favourite numbers game, and book yourself the sassiest bingo party of all time in your own front room!
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Author And Contributing Editor
Anita is a well-known bingo-lover and has been involved with online bingo since the late 1990’s. She has been along for the ride and seen the industry grow and develop into what it is today. She has worked with the biggest names in the industry and has a reputation for being fair and to the point in her writing.