Ok so bingo can sound pretty dull – think community halls filled with senile little old biddies (sorry if you’re reading this Memaw) aggressively gesturing with their canes as they argue with cranky old men about whether the caller said ‘B nine’ or ‘B five’ (actually upon further reflection, that sounds quite entertaining).
Well the point is, my friends weren’t too thrilled when I asked them to spend their Saturday night in New York City playing bingo. You could see the wheels turning in their heads as they tried to think of reasons to say no or started mumbling about how they couldn’t commit to evening plans yet. But as soon as I showed them my hand and mentioned ‘drag queen host’ (interest was peaked) and then played my final trump card, – ‘cheap drink specials’ (sold!) we were off.
That’s how we ended up at Le Poisson Rouge in the West Village for Le Bingo. I’ll admit it was not my first time. Like most 20-somethings in Manhattan, I constantly find myself with a vibrant social life that I can’t afford and I’m constantly on the lookout for cheap places to go in order to stretch my entertainment purse a little further. I had discovered this place a couple months back and have since frequented the joint due to $2 bingo cards, happy hour specials, live entertainment, and of course the ‘specials wheel’ used to determine drinks that only cost $4.
Not Your Grandma’s Bingo
Le Bingo is hosted by longtime reigning NYC queen, Linda Simpson, whose natural talent for generating laughter through a repartee of witty quips and sassy banter makes her the ultimate hostess. She takes bingo to a whole new level with her wonderful rotating assistants (Miss Glace Chase this particular evening), her eclectic (oftentimes downright creepy) prizes, her jackpot (money, money, money) round, and her snappy, zingy comments solidly delivered throughout the game.
This past Saturday happened to be my roommate Janine’s birthday and after falling on extraordinarily bad luck (like being forced to cancel her original plan of Laser tag, unable to get reservations to her fave nighttime spot, and then even her backup plan to her backup plan got rained out) the 4th time ended up being the charm as we walked into the venue and saw the only empty large table left in the place was up at the very front of the stage. Little did we know at the time but a couple of us would even end up as part of the entertainment.
As DJ Formica (that seriously can’t be his real name, right?) played old Backstreet Boys’ songs in the background, we bought our cards and were ready for the first round. Tensions in the crowd were high as Glace strutted around the bar showing off the first prize of the evening….
Much to our disappointment, some girl from Staten Island is the proud new owner of the towel and continued her streak with 2 more wins throughout the evening (turns out she had bought 10 cards – ugh SO annoying). At least Linda cracked a few jokes about her along the lines of “Let’s all objectify Sarah and imagine she’s the one in the bikini”.
It was then time for Glace to give the ‘specials wheel’ a spin at which point my friend Kristin H. got overly excited (think eager Price is Right contestant) and started fist pumping in the air while chanting ‘tequila, tequila, tequila’. When it fell on vodka and soda though, she took her defeat in stride and started nodding and clapping vigorously saying “I’ll take that. I’ll take that” (if you can’t tell already, we may have been to an unlimited champagne brunch before this).
A Drag Queen, A Dog, And A Dance Off
With a new round of vodka sodas at the table, we turned our attention back to our cards for the next game. We all wanted that fluffy pink barking dog with the creepy light-up demon eyes (seriously even Chucky would have been petrified) that Glace was lurking around the room with.
As my diagonal row started turning red under B,N,G,O my legs started shaking under the table with uncontrollable nervous excitement and I crossed my fingers and started whispering/praying “I20, I20, I20” until Linda miraculously answered my prayers and said it aloud. BINGO! Caught in the throes of excitement over winning, I ran to the stage and almost didn’t notice that I wasn’t the only one who had hit BINGO.
What? Two winners? Only one creepy dog?
With full support from the audience, Linda decided there was only one solution – Dance Off.
The blood drained from my face but the alcohol in my blood stream lingered and well, I really wanted that damn dog. The next thing I knew ‘Freak Out’ started playing and someone who obviously hijacked my body started doing this…
After 2 rounds of the audience applause-o-meter consistently staying at exactly the same sound decibel, a winner was unable to be determined and we had to go the old-fashioned route of ‘let’s see who draws the highest number’. As Linda gave me permission to grab her balls, I sadly drew out the lowest number and heard Janine yell out indignantly ‘but she’s my roommate!’ as if that alone was reason enough for me to win (totally appreciate your last ditch effort Janine). The roommate thing then became ammunition for Linda’s jokes the rest of the evening.
And The B.I.N.G.O. Goes On
The night continued to trickle on with 2 hours of hilarious bingo antics. Kristin H’s wish was fulfilled when the wheel finally landed on ‘tequila’ (I blame her for my hangover the next day) and more prizes were awarded including 3-D animal decorative pictures, a yellow creature (huge debate amongst the crowd as to what kind of animal it actually was) umbrella, a glow in the dark sword, mystery envelopes filled with either cash or a ‘sweet ticket’ (the winner picked #3 which was – drumroll please – a box of crunch’n’munch), and of course the $100 jackpot.
Linda and Glace even took it one step further and gave the audience the option of getting laid leied (keep your mind out of the gutter) for only $1. If you win while wearing a lucky lei, you’re granted an additional prize.
Our resident birthday girl Janine, even got her fifteen minutes of fame and won not only the raffle for free drink tickets, but also the 4-corner round of bingo in which she came home with a globe pencil sharpener and 3D dolphin place mat (you should have seen our other roommate’s face when Janine tried to prominently display it in our apartment the next morning).
All in all it was another fun and certainly interesting night in the city that never sleeps. I’m pretty sure my friends will never look at bingo the same way again! Don’t take my word for it – go see for yourself and play bingo with Linda!
For more info on New York City and Drag Queen Bingo, see Linda’s upcoming schedule here.
Have you ever had an interesting bingo experience? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story!
Want More Travel Stories?
Signup for my Monthly Newsletter!
Just pop in your email address and click SUBSCRIBE to receive my travel newsletter at the beginning of every month!