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St. John's Drag Bingo prepares for third year

Evelyn J. Tudor and Fashionista Jones at the second annual Drag Bingo.
Evelyn J. Tudor and Fashionista Jones at the second annual Drag Bingo. - Contributed

The response to Raise Up Fundraising’s (RUF) third annual Drag Bingo has been a heartwarming experience for Charles Murphy, co-founder of RUF, and other founders and volunteers. The event sold out within two days of tickets being released.

“We didn’t have time to get out all of our media releases. … The tables were gone within two days,” says Murphy, explaining that excitement around the event began six months ago when the first promotional materials for this year were released, and tickets began selling as soon as it was posted on social media.

RUF’s Drag Bingo night raises money for LGBTQAI2S+ community serving organizations across Newfoundland and Labrador. This year’s Drag Bingo is raising money for four organizations: Safe Alliance in Labrador, Western Pride NL in Stephenville, and Trans NL and Out in Faith NL in St. John’s.

“A lot of the time these organizations don’t have those funds … and we saw there was a need,” says Murphy.

Most of the organizations serving the LGBTQAI2S+ community are run on a volunteer basis, and rely on grant money and donations to provide support for the community.

RUF did a call out for proposals from LGBTQAI2S+ community serving organizations as well as contacted those in places where they may not have access to the information about the Drag Bingo fundraising event.

“We’re trying to make sure that the money we raise goes back into this community,” Murphy says about how RUF decided on the four organizations. “We’re trying to reach out to individuals in places that may not get the same kind of resources we do living in the capital of the province.”

Many of the table sponsors are returning from previous years, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, which is also providing the venue, Clinic 252, and Escape Quest. There are also new sponsors this year, such as Vertical Expressions.

Murphy has been contacted by people who were unable to purchase tickets to say how much they had enjoyed the event in previous years. The level of enthusiasm being shown around Drag Bingo is making RUF hopeful they could hold the event twice a year.

The night will be emceed by Doctor Androbox, and feature seven games of bingo with a drag performance after every two games from Evelyn J. Tudor, Fashionista Jones, Irma Gerd and Johnny Diamond, and music by D.J. Hearnia. The concluding performance will be a burlesque show by the Island Belles.

“The drag performances are on point, they’re just so much fun,” says Murphy.

After bingo concludes there will a dance party. Raffles and a 50/50 draw will also happen during the night.

“We’ve made these raffles extremely exciting,” says Murphy.

The raffle prizes will include $200 toward a tattoo, a stay at Fairfield Inn, a folk festival weekend pass, LSPU Hall season pass, and a shed experience at Coastal Cottages, as well as artwork and food.

Attendees are encouraged to come in drag if they wish, which could be anything from make-up, to a fancy dress or tuxedo, to being “dressed as your Nan going to bingo.”

“It’s like Halloween, but in the summer,” says Murphy.

The organizers have worked hard to fill the night with lots of reasons to laugh and have fun, such as giving raffle baskets and games names like “Straight but Not Narrow,” and “Yes, Queen,” and breaking ties with a “lip-sync for your life.”

“It all just pools into one hodgepodge of community,” says Murphy.

RUF hopes that by providing funds for LGBTQAI2S+ community servicing organizations from across the province they can help to ensure that marginalized communities are not being “swept under the rug.”

Drag Bingo will be held Friday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion on Blackmarsh Road. The event is liquor licensed.

RUF is still accepting donations to help them reach their $10,000 goal, via e-transfer to raiseupnl@gmail.com or through their Eventbrite page.

RUF will host a Drag Story Time at Chapters, 70 Kenmount Rd., from 7-9 p.m. on July 16, where they will raise money for Trans Support NL’s summer camp.

“The moments in time are life changing,” Murphy says about the summer camp.

“There is nothing like walking down a street filled with individuals just like you,” he says about the importance of Pride Week to marginalized communities, who “deserve to be seen, and need to be seen.”

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Clarification

Since our page A5 story “Drag Bingo prepares for third year” was published July 10, the DJ for the event has changed. The night will be emceed by Doctor Androbox, and feature seven games of bingo with a drag performance after every two games from Evelyn J. Tudor, Fashionista Jones, Irma Gerd and Johnny Diamond, and music by D.J. David Shears from “lookalike.”

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