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On the Town: Drag Queen Bingo helps raise funds for homeless services

On the Town: Drag Queen Bingo helps raise funds for homeless services
"Drag Queen Bingo" for Ascencia starred, from left, drag queen Calpernia Addams in all her splendor, show emcee Jeffery Bowman, and Noemi Torres, Ascencia board member. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

The mission of Glendale-based Ascencia is “Lifting People Out of Homelessness.” On Aug. 15, bingo filled the bill, more specifically “Drag Queen Bingo.”

A couple of dozen bingo fans made the trek from Glendale to Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood. There, they were met by some 100 more bingo players who live in and around WeHo. All were looking forward to winning the grand prize — an “I Feel Pretty” basket full of movie memorabilia, two lawn chairs and a $50 restaurant gift certificate.

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With a suggested donation of $20 to play several games of bingo, the event put mucho dollars into Ascencia’s coffers since the organization received about 90% of the evening’s proceeds.

But back to the drag queen part. Calpernia Addams, in full drag, acted as bingo hostess with the mostest. She charmed the audience as she called out bingo numbers and sashayed along side Jeffery Bowman, creator of Legendary Bingo. Bowman did the lion’s share of the emceeing.

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According to Bowman, “We do Drag Queen Bingo here five shows a week.” A portion of each show’s proceeds goes to a different charity.

Ascencia’s connection with the night’s venue was through Noemi Torres, who is an Ascencia board member and lives a block away from Hamburger Mary’s. She was familiar with Bowman’s fund-raising shows and thought Ascencia would benefit from part of the action.

Anjalika Nigram, of Ascencia’s development office, said the staff’s intention was to “form a relationship with the West Hollywood community and let people know we’re here.”

Tarry Kang, Ascencia’s development director, said the city of West Hollywood reserves 10 of Ascencia’s Glendale shelter beds for WeHo outreach referrals. There, residents have their own bed and access to showers, laundry, case management, financial literacy classes, employment, housing placement support, trauma therapy and psychiatric services.

Ascencia’s staff has expertise with addiction recovery, mental health care, veteran’s services and LGBTQ advocacy.

But back to the party. As the evening went on, dinner and bingo games were interspersed with the auction of donated prizes. A favorite was a visit to Magic Castle in Hollywood. Entrance tickets for five went for $350. Bowman was the enthusiastic auctioneer.

West Hollywood restaurant gift certificates were also popular auction items. Restaurants donating to the event included Ago restaurant, Basix Food and Bar, Café D’Etoile, and Scratch Bar & Kitchen.

The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce also provided a generous donation.

As music blared and blended into a crescendo of excited voices, the evening ended too soon for many.

Ascencia literature reminds us, “On any given night, over 9,000 people are homeless in Glendale, Burbank, northeast Los Angeles and West Hollywood.”

Glendalians are flocking to A Noise Within’s production of “Man of La Mancha,” which opened the company’s 2018-19 season. Pasadena came calling several years ago and lured A Noise Within away from its previous location in the Masonic Temple on Brand Boulevard in Glendale.

Be that as it may, this is a show not to be missed. Starring as Don Quixote, tilter at windmills, is Geoff Elliot, who is also the company’s producing artistic director. His wife, Julia Rodriguez-Elliot, is his producing partner.

This was a first time visit to A Noise Within for La Crescenta resident Suzette Van Sleeuwen.
This was a first time visit to A Noise Within for La Crescenta resident Suzette Van Sleeuwen. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

La Crescenta resident Suzette Van Sleeuwen made it to a performance on Aug. 18. She posed for a picture in front of the theater’s several murals.

“Man of La Mancha” will run through Sept. 9.

RUTH SOWBY RANDS may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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