Under a low techno beat, the sounds of Jordin Sparks bumps through the speakers, until Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night” begins to play. From the corner of the room, steps out drag queen Ms. Shi-Queeta Lee, a host of the drag bingo extravaganza held every Tuesday night at Nellie’s Sports Bar.
With microphone in hand, Lee gracefully parades around the room saying, “Welcome to Nellie’s, where we eat, drink and be Nellie.” The crowd tipped him by pinning money on his dress as he scrolled around the room. The crowd of about 150 people is a good mix of hipsters, family and friends who came out just to have a good time at Nellie’s, 900 U St. N.W.
The District had a popular drag bingo scene at Chaos’s in DuPont in the ’90s. However, it was later closed down. The gay club, which was licensed as a restaurant, wasn’t allowed to host DJs, drag king shows or drag bingo nights. Now, drag bingo is back and is looking to bring the excitement out of all who come and enjoy playing the game.
Nellie’s Sports Bar opened in July of 2007 and incorporated drag bingo in December of 2008. At 8 p.m. drag bingo begins with the “Price Is Right” TV show theme music during which Lee introduce her mystery co-host, drag queen Ms. Akasha Cassadine. With a feisty impersonation of Mariah Carey, Emotions, Cassadine hair flips, and her crazy dance moves made the crowd go wild.
Gay, lesbian, straight, black, white, Asian, Latino — all hold the blue and red cards in their hands, repeating all the house rules and chants that go along with the game. From the “I- 22, yea beep beep,” to the “what’s my favorite number, O-69,” Lee tells jokes that cause the audience to yell out or cover their faces.
“We are here to have a good time,” Lee tells the crowd.
The hostesses encourage some naughtiness and engage in plenty themselves. When one guy thinks he has bingo, he dashes to the stage to collect his prize. Lee stops him dead in his tracks when she recognizes that he indeed does not have bingo.
“You don’t have bingo,” Lee cackles. “What do we say? Sit you’re a** down!” Prizes consist of anything from sex toys to Quesadilla makers, all donated from businesses throughout the city.
“This is my second time coming here,” said Laura MoGinnis, 29 from Arlington, Va.
“I love how accepting and open the atmosphere is,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your race, gender or sexuality is; it’s all about having a good time.”
From the random outbursts to the relaxing atmosphere, drag bingo is gaining new admires.
“Bingo night is always packed,” Waiter Hector Posados, 29, said. “It’s a very fun night to come out, and at most 150 people are usually here to play.”
“Its so over-the-top,” Kim Stirader, 22, from Washington, DC said. “My friends and I had so much fun. I’ve never been here before but I plan on coming back.”