Friday February 19, 2010
WHAT: Bingo-Ski, a site-specific "art-sport" installation based on the traditional game of Bingo.
WHEN: May 2009 to February 2010, in six different installments.
WHERE: The old-fashion party room of the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant, which frequently serves as a social setting for the local Eastern European community for birthdays, wedding receptions, family reunions, etc.
by Linda Simpson
Over the past several years I've unexpectedly become a popular drag-queen Bingo promoter and hostess, calling numbers and giving away prizes at various NYC cabarets and bars. In an effort to expand my career (and my income), I decided to add yet another night to my resumé by renting the gloriously old-fashioned party room of the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant. Of course the night's name needed an Eastern European flair—Bingo-Ski!
My intent was simply to produce a fun and distinctive game night. But a week before Bingo-Ski's debut, I discovered I had by chance plugged into an art movement when The New York Times profiled the growing popularity of "art-sports"—newfangled versions of kickball and other games that were described as "an outgrowth of the contemporary art-world trend toward participatory art." Although Bingo-Ski focused on non-athletic competition—sedentary Bingo games—my concept of blending recreation with the absurd was precisely the same. (I fancy myself a drag-queen artisté.)
Bingo-Ski gaily distinguished itself from other art-sports by embracing a decidely queer and campy sensibility. At Bingo-Ski's helm was a zany cast of drag queens and other colorful performers, including me as the night's hostess. The audience—a sexually diverse and enthusiastic bunch—vied for prizes that were pure kitsch, including fuzzy toy animals, dancing dolls and Hannah Montana throw blankets. (The other Bingo nights that I cohost weekly with performer Murray Hill offer a similar format—They too can be classified as art-sport.)
According to the Times, art-sports highlight "personal interaction and community involvement." In Bingo-Ski's case, each and every player functioned as a supporting actor in an improvisational theater piece that abounded with triumphant victories. In addition to the games, a community of performers provided entertainment, including some who paid ode to the room's cultural roots by incorporating off-the-wall Baltic and Soviet themes into their acts. Bingo's folksy traditions were glorified with "Good Neighbor" games as well as an organist providing a non-stop soundtrack. At the same time, the game's dowdy reputation was sexed up with skin-baring shows and a few X-rated prizes.
Bingo-Ski's fascinating mash-up—freaks running a postmodern game show in an ethnic restaurant—proved to be a fun-filled and delightfully successful experiment in creative collaboration and social play. Each night, the ritual of Bingo was infused with loopy humor and liveliness as winners bounded to the stage to collect their goofy winnings. Applause, cheers, laughter and joyous cries of "Bingo-Ski!" mixed with a wonderful sense of camaraderie and unbridled creative spirit. A fabulous new art-sport was born!
Props and Decor: Steven Hammel
Organist: Paul Leschen
DJs: Horski, Dany Johnson, Michael Magnan and Erin Markey
Performers: Babalicious, Matthew Camp, The Dazzle Dancers, Machine Dazzle, Claire de Loon, Dirty Martini, Duch, Flloyd, Laryssa Husiak, Lauren Howe, Grasina Kira Nerusskaya, The Peoplution Dancers (Lance Cruce, Steven Hammel, Brandon Olson and Chris Tanner), Shaquanda Coca Mulatta, Sultana and Violet Temper
Special Thanks to Adam Baran, Anne Hong, Anthony, Antonius, Chelsea, Colin, Curtsy, Angela DiCarlo, Diego, Sylvia London, Tim McNerney, Ves Pitts, Tabboo!, Thain Torres, Michael Wakefield, and the staff and management of the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant
All photos above from Bingo-Ski's final night by Ves Pitts (From top: Linda Simpson and Claire de Loon; Machine Dazzle; Dirty Martini; Lauren Howe; Sultana; stage antics)
More photos at Linda Simpson's Facebook Page
See also Next Magazine's coverage of Bingo-Ski's final night
Thursday January 14, 2010
Until yesterday, Cherry Dazzle (a.k.a. Cary Curran) of NYC's Dazzle Dancers, didn't know the gender of her soon-to-be-born baby.
She and her boyfriend Josh decided to wait to find out until "it" was born.
Well, guess what? Cherry just had a girl!
It's a boy!!!!!!!
Cherry e-mailed me today (She bounced back quick!) that she and Josh are waiting a couple of weeks before they give him a name.
Why not just permanently call him baby? Everyone loves a baby!
A million congratulations! Can't wait to see baby perform with the Dazzles! Nude!
Sunday October 25, 2009
From my collection of nightclub ephemera...
In 2001, the headquarters for stylist-designer Patricia Field was her Soho boutique Hotel Venus, which is where you could purchase its eponymous (and short lived) magazine. The flyer below, from the nightclub Spa, celebrates the magazine's second issue by reproducing its cover—stunning transsexual Amanda Lepore photographed by French photographers Pierre and Giles.
In 2001 the kink-obsessed party Click & Drag set up home at the Chinatown dance spot known as Fun. The flyer for this "Plushies" bash (featuring a photo by Rob Roth) urged partygoers to wear "furvert fetish." But the party, set for Septermber 13, never occurred. By then all of downtown was a no-party zone after the 9/11 attack.
The stars of Milk, a lively house-music party which reigned in the mid-1990s, included gender illusionist and nightlife superstar Girlina, whose photo for this birthday-party flyer is by Aaron Cobbett. Nowadays, she's shortened her name to Lina, and thanks to surgery, fills out her bikini top quite nicely.
The haunting illustration for this flyer for Disco 2000—the infamous 1990s club kid megaparty—is by former nightclub personality Kabuki, who is now a well-known makeup artist. Sacred, short for Sacred Boy, was one of the party's many hosts; the invite is for his 1994 "ceremonial birthday mass."
Back then flyers were your mini guide to nightlife! I wish I had saved more!
Monday September 21, 2009
I've held on to these since the late 1980s! What a hoot!
I regret not ordering anything!
Wednesday September 9, 2009
After a very lengthy "soft opening," Bitches in the Sky makes its official debut this week!
I'm proud to say that I'm the creator and writer of the gender-bending photo novella, which follows the outrageous adventures of New York's filthy rich.
The cast, all of them plucked from the nightlife scene, is amazing! Such fab silent stars!
Below, from left: Ladyfag (as media maven Lucinda Black), Sylvia London (as poor little rich girl Pixie Woolworth) and Curtsy (as batty old broad Gertrude McCoy).
This is a HUGE project for me, but for now I'm not going to say much. I'd rather have you check it out for yourself at bitchesinthesky.com!
Monday August 31, 2009
Here I am in January 1994 visiting Miami Beach, which was so amazing back then with a ton of flamboyant queens ruling the nightlife. Outside of New York, it was the draggiest place on Earth.
On the far right is Adora, who still reigns as one of South Beach's biggest lipysynching stars. Next to her is Damian Dee-Vine, who has since transitioned into va-va-voom transsexual porn actress Allanah Starr.
NOW: Adora posing for a faux Warhol. I adore her glam sense of style and Cuban accent!
NOW: Allanah at her birthday bash last year. She resides in NYC and is a very successful party promoter. Such a sweetheart—so bubbly and fun to be around!
I wish I could remember the names of the other two gals in the picture. I'm sure they're still fab no matter where they are or what they've become!
Wednesday August 12, 2009
Until Charles Perez made stormy headlines several days ago—the news anchor claims he was fired from his Miami station because he’s openly gay—I didn’t even know he was still on TV.
His fame was far greater in the mid-1990s when he had a nationwide daytime talk show, which I appeared on as a drag-queen guest. It was an odd experience, mostly because he had a twisted relationship with the proverbial gay closet.
By the time I came on, many in the queer community were grumbling about his show. There was no doubt that Perez was gay—he had appeared in a groundbreaking homo TV moment—going on a date with housemate (and my pal) Norman Korpi during the 1992 debut season of MTV's Real World. But for his own show, Perez had been deliberately degayed—one can only assume that he was in on the masquerade—and there was nary a peep on the program about his true nature.
Perez started Out and then he was dragged back In!
Norm Korpi all grown up.
His new persona was so ridiculously false that it seemed like a slap in the face to queers everywhere, especially during an era of intense activism, which included outing closeted celebrities.
As far as my experience… Perez’s show was no Jerry Springer, but the episode I was on was typical manufactured controversy, with members of various minority groups pitted against each other (buppies vs. hip-hoppers, a Jewish square vs. some Jappy suburban girls, etc.). It was dumb.
In the green room with a gay leather guy (who the producers decided not to bring on stage—he was bummed) and the "Japs."
Me, the savage drag queen, battled it out with a gay Republican, and I got a few zingers in to satisfy the producers who kept urging us off-camera to really go at it (I was getting paid.)
However, the producers (many of whom were gay and lesbian) had an even bigger concern: I might blurt out something about Perez’s “situation.” I was told in no uncertain terms that this was a big no-no.
I must say I was tempted, just to spite them. But I figured that anything I'd say would be edited out. Besides, even if Perez had sold his soul, he was nice in a bland kind of way. Who was I to rock his world?
Simpson and Perez
Fourteen years later, how ironic is it that Perez’s firing is the new gay cause celebre? Perhaps his fears of being out really were true. Or maybe karma is a bitch. Or maybe, like many people, he just needed some time before he could feel comfortable letting the world know his true self.
How's that for a talk-show "final thought?"
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