Why you should care
It’s where “0-69” takes on a whole new fun meaning.
Miss Toto doesn’t tolerate inauthentic orgasms during her regular Wednesday-night drag queen bingo at Gramps, a bar in the trendy Miami art district of Wynwood. When the number 69 comes up, says the towering, ripped-as-hell drag queen, if you don’t play along and fake a proper orgasm, you might get called out — or even kicked out.
“I make everyone in the bar have a loud and authentic orgasm,” says Miss Toto, who works as a personal trainer, campaigns against tobacco use in the LGBTQ community and tags sharks for the University of Miami — when she’s not hosting the hugely popular bingo night.
The stigma of a gay bar is pretty much gone. Anyone who can accept each other is welcome here.
Traila Parks, aka Bob the bartender at Blur Nightclub
If you thought that bingo in the Sunshine State was confined to nursing homes and VFW events, think again. Drag queens across Florida are putting the laughs and raunchy good times into the otherwise staid game of chance and numbers.
Among Miss Toto’s other rules: “Always tell me I’m gorgeous.” And though the 26-year-old’s impudence and confidence draw attendees to bingo nights at Gramp’s — “She’s funny, not afraid to call someone out on their bullshit, engages the audience and even attracts the random passersby,” says Miami local Julian Garcia — the laid back and interactive fun that awaits are also attractions.
On the other side of the state, in the small Gulf Coast community of Dunedin, near Tampa, Blur Nightclub has hosted weekly Tuesday-night drag queen bingo for a decade, raising funds to benefit local charities like Pinellas County’s AIDS Partnership.
“The stigma of a gay bar is pretty much gone. Anyone who can accept each other is welcome here,” says Traila Parks, aka Blur Nightclub’s Bob the happy hour bartender, who founded the event and co-hosts it wearing a muumuu, wig and red lipstick and with a bona fide drag queen by his side. Blur’s bingo setup follows a pattern: Play four games, pause for a drag show, then play four more. “People come in and just forget their worries and have a good time, local businesses donate prizes,” Traila Parks says. Don’t expect a G-rated evening, though. “We do announce at the start that anything can come out of the mouths of the hosts,” Traila Parks says.
In nearby Clearwater Beach, things tend to stay slightly tamer at Hamburger Mary’s, a franchise restaurant “for open-minded people” where drag queen bingo takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday evening, with more than 200 people usually showing up to compete (call in advance to reserve a table). A $10 donation per person goes to a spotlighted charity, with players winning prizes and money during a 50-50 raffle.
“The amount of expertise the entertainers put into their hair and makeup is everything,” says St. Petersburg resident Natalie Jones, at a recent bingo night at Hamburger Mary’s. Jones says the show was kept family-friendly that night as there were elementary schoolers in attendance celebrating their graduation.
The thing to keep in mind at any drag queen bingo night: It’s about having fun. “When people are nervous about going to a drag show, I tell them to go to bingo,” says Miss Toto. “That can be your first intro to a drag queen without it being a commotion.”
Go There: Drag Queen Bingo