Ruby Diamond wanted to be clear while she screamed in the crowd Sunday night: "This is not your grandmother's bingo."
"This is my grandmother, "shouted one of the crowd, pointing to an older woman nearby.
Diamond, a veteran drag queen with many shows under his belt, rolled his eyes and smiled.
"There's one in every crowd," Diamond replied.
Diamond has warned the public to harden. The drag queens they were about to meet are all "offenders of equal opportunity," she said.
"We are here to have fun and raise funds for Harmony House," said Diamond.
The music started ("Let's hear it for the boy" from the movie Footloose, if you asked the question) and Diamond swung around the bar, synchronizing his lips and graciously accepting the dollar bills.
Drag Queen Charity Bingo – an increasingly popular fundraising event for local non-profit organizations – takes place on most Sundays at the Fuzion Night Club in Springfield.
Club owner Vince Edwards said the events raised about $ 15,000 for charity last year.
"Without the community, we would not be here, why not give back?" he explained, moments before the drag show and the game of bingo.
In addition to helping charities that interest her a lot, bingo games are a great way to present everyone to the LGBTQ community, Edwards said.
He estimates that about 80% of people who come to bingo are new to his club. And many of them are "virgin" drag shows, he said.
"People who do not normally associate with the drag or the gay community, that makes us more acceptable," said Edwards. "When you see drag queens do it for a good cause, how can you dislike them?"
Mark Struckhoff, executive director of the Ozark Churches Council, was among the virgins of drag shows attending the fundraiser at Harmony House.
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"I had always hoped (see a drag show) and you can quote me about it," said Struckhoff. "I am a man of hope."
"I love the fact that people can come together and find creative ways to raise money for a good cause," added Struckhoff.
Kelly Harris, director of Safe to Sleep, a night shelter for homeless women, was sitting in front of Struckhoff.
Harris said she had attended her first drag queen bingo two weeks ago when Fuzion was raising money for Gathering Friends, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless people.
"It was very fun," said Harris. "I consider (Gathering Friends and Harmony House) partners in our organization, we serve the same people, they are important to me."
Esther Munch, director of development at Harmony House, said she had not been to a drag show since her studies.
"I'm shocked by the turnout," Munch said. "I see a lot of fans here, but I also see a lot of new faces."
Munch expressed his gratitude to Edwards, drag queens and Fuzion staff. In addition to raising money, Munch said the event had given him an opportunity to talk about domestic violence and the services offered at Harmony House.
"Awareness is everything," she says, looking around the crowded bar. "We have to reach every community, every zip code – no one is immune – it's amazing."
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About 135 people attended the Harmony House fundraiser Sunday night. The event raised approximately $ 1,500, with all proceeds going to Harmony House.
Diamond, the show's host, said that volunteering for charity bingo events was "what we at the bar like to do."
"It's kind of our way of giving back.Many of us are volunteers for these organizations," she said. "And Vince wanted the bar to be part of the community."
Want to go?
Fuzion organizes fundraising events for Drag Queen Bingo charities almost every Sunday. Like Fuzion on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events.
The doors, the bar and the kitchen are open at 4pm. Fuzion is located at 1611 N. Campbell Ave.
The entry is $ 10 (comes with 10 game cards, no limit of cards per game). All proceeds go to the charity presented.
Here are some upcoming bingo fundraisers:
- Drag Bingo for Rescue One will take place on February 17th. Rescue One is a pet-friendly pet rescue center based in Springfield. All animals supported by Rescue One live in foster homes until a house forever can be found. The association saves regardless of race, age or ease of placement.
- Drag Bingo for CARE Animal Rescue will take place on March 10th. CARE Animal Rescue is dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals. The CARE shelter is home to hundreds of homeless animals and the Springfield Adoption Center currently hosts adoptable animals. The CARE sanctuary near Aurora is reserved for animals that may need a little more time to fully recover and be ready for adoption.
- Drag Bingo for the Department of Education at Springfield Little Theater will be held on March 24th. The Department of Education at Springfield Little Theater offers a wide variety of educational offerings to people of all ages.
- Drag the Foster Adopt Connect bingo on April 28th. Foster Adopt Connect Springfield specializes in problem solving for children and families concerned and affected by the child protection system. The mission of the ASBL is to "provide foster children and adopted children with a stable, loving and enriching family environment by supporting and defending abused and neglected children and the families who care for them. . "
If your non-profit organization is interested in a Drag Queen Charity fundraising event, send a message to Fuzion's Facebook page or call 417-409-3941.