Sunday, April 21, 2024
12.3 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

BINGO! Drag yourself along

This Saturday, Masterton will be hosting a bingo night — with an “outrageous” twist.

The balls and scorecards, caller’s expressions and competitive spirit will be the same … but this game comes with a side of big hair and makeup, Vegas-style lipsync performances, and plenty of off-the-wall humour.

Auckland-based drag performer and television star Anita Wigl’it will be “hostess with the most-ess” at this weekend’s Drag Bingo Masterton! event at the Copthorne Hotel & Resort.

The event, part of Wig’lit’s North Island-wide Drag Queen Bingo tour, will include three competitive rounds of the game of probability, followed by a drag show – featuring the hostess’ trademark camp theatrics and saucy comedic observations – a mix-and-mingle session, and “fabulous food”.

Wig’lit is best known for co-hosting the TVNZ series House of Drag, and appearing on the wildly popular competition reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race [RPDR] – as a contestant on the spinoff series RPDR Drag Race Down Under and Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs the World.

On RPDR Down Under, she became a favourite among the show’s international fanbase for her darkly humorous impression of Queen Elizabeth II and her upbeat, irrepressible energy – which won her the title of Miss Congeniality, voted by her castmates.

Drag queen bingo nights first originated in the US as a fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community during the AIDS crisis, and have become a regular fixture in the New Zealand drag scene.

Wig’lit began hosting drag bingo events in Auckland and Hamilton earlier this year – and soon found herself flooded with enquiries from further afield. Before long, she had enough bookings for a tour “from Kerikeri down to Wellington”, including stops at Whangarei, Whangaparoa, Tauranga, Rotorua and Palmerston North.

“The response has been huge. I’ve sold more tickets for Drag Queen Bingo than for my comedy shows!” she laughed.

“Drag bingo is a lot of stupid fun: It’s silly, it’s interactive, it’s light-hearted. We add in a lot of outrageous humour – we make the bingo calls a bit risque, which people enjoy.”

“It used to be that bingo was for older retired people, but recently a lot more young people have gotten into it. And they take it pretty seriously – it can get so competitive!

Anita Wigl’it hosts a drag bingo event — which blends competitive bingo with “outrageous” humour and drag performance. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wigl’it has recently wrapped up a nationwide tour of her one-woman comedy special “Funny Gurl” – and said, despite stereotypes and some initial anxiety, she receives a rapturous response in the regional centres.

“People say things like, ‘aren’t you worried? Small towns have small minds!’

“But I’ve found the smaller places have been the most big-hearted and welcoming. Whenever I do a show, there’s always so much love in the room.

“I think people in smaller places are more appreciative – in Auckland, you can see a drag show every week. Whereas for somewhere like Masterton, this might be the first drag event they’ve had in a few years.”

Wigl’it first fell in love with drag back in 2008, while ushering at Auckland’s Civic Theatre. One of the productions was the musical adaption of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – and the young Wigl’it was transfixed.

“That was the first time I’d seen drag queens perform. The costumes and makeup were incredible.

“I ended up dressing in drag for our work Christmas party — and I had a Priscilla theme for my 21st.”

Wig’lit started doing regular drag shows at local gay club, Family Bar — where she met best friend and business partner Kita Mean [winner of RPDR Down Under Season 1]. The pair went on to perform together as the comedic duo “Kita and Anita”, take over ownership of Caluzzi Cabaret on Karangahape Rd – one of the city’s most beloved drag venues – and present and judge two seasons of House of Drag.

On RPDR Down Under, Wig’lit won the iconic Snatch Game challenge – a parody of the UK game show Blankety-Blank, where the queens have to impersonate a celebrity and make the host [RuPaul] laugh with their answers. Wig’lit brought down the house as the late Queen Elizabeth [featuring a quip that was censored by the BBC] – but was, much to fans’ consternation, eliminated in the fourth episode after a sewing challenge.

Wigl’it described Drag Race as “loads of fun”, if a significant trip beyond her comfort zone.

“We did a lot of things we’d never done before. I had no idea how to sew or design an outfit, but I had no choice but to give it a go.

“Snatch Game was actually petrifying. As drag queens, we sometimes impersonate celebrities — but it’s a completely different thing to make jokes while in character as that person. If you do get a good joke in there, it’s a huge relief, but your next one could fall completely flat.

“When I won, I was amazed.”

Despite her early exit, Wig’lit said Drag Race has opened up some “incredible opportunities”: As well as appearing on the Canadian show, she has done several tours of the US, UK and Australia, performed at the Adelaide and Perth Fringe Festivals, and will shortly take her show “Funny Gurl” to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Though drag is “having a moment in the sun” in New Zealand, Wig’lit has noticed an increase in negative online sentiment” towards drag queens, inspired by a recent backlash against the queer community in the US.

While she is happy to hit “block and delete”, she acknowledged it was more important than ever for New Zealanders to support their Rainbow loved ones.

“If you see people running down the queer community, call it out. Don’t be afraid to challenge their beliefs.

“Queer people aren’t going anywhere – it’s not a choice for us. When people are against us, it just makes it uncomfortable to be ourselves. So, when people stand up for us, it goes a long way.”

Tickets to Drag Bingo Masterton! are available at eventfinda.co.nz

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 17: Anita Wigl’it poses during a portrait session at Silo Park on June 17, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. Nick Kennedy-Hall, stage name Anita Wigl’it was the co-host and co-judge on House of Drag and competed in RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
broken clouds
12.3 ° C
12.7 °
12.3 °
98 %
58 %
12 °
18 °
18 °
18 °
17 °