OUTrageous Bingo is an event that takes place one Saturday a month during the cold season and was started by Alan Jones and Rick Allison 15 years ago. They recently celebrated their fifteenth anniversary in December. The event benefits the GLCC (Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh) and Shepherd Wellness Community (an AIDS service organization in Bloomfield). Originally housed at Soldiers and Sailors Hall, then moved to a warehouse in the Strip District, then a move to the Goodwill Industries Building on the Southside, it is currently held At Rodef Shalom in Oakland. Finding a hall that will hold 450+ people on a monthly basis was a challenge and so, they had to change locations throughout the years. OUTrageous Bingo is completely run by volunteers, some of whom have been involved for the entire 15 years. They are also very fortunate to have the GLCC youth group to do setup and clean up at every event. We had a chance to chat with Ed Motznik, Bingo Manager and Banker who has been involved with OUTrageous Bingo for 9 years, to learn more about this great event and the people it benefits. Make sure you read to the end to find out details for the remainder of their season!
Kymbo Slice: Who does OUTrageous bingo benefit?
Ed Motznik: It was originally started as a fundraiser for the Shepherd Wellness Community and PATF (Pittsburgh Aids Task Force). PATF decided not to participate and the GLCC decided to join. So it now benifits GLCC and SWC equally. It was started by Rick Allison (who is still the Bingo committee chair and Bingo caller – he’s been called the ‘sassy’ bingo caller by Pittsburgh Magazine) and Alan Jones.
KS: In addition to providing a GLBT-friendly environment where people can feel comfortable, what else about OUTrageous Bingo do you think is better than traditional bingo?
EM: It a great non-smoking GLBT community event that is not centered around one of the bars. It’s also great outreach because many of the attendees are straight.
KS: A temple might strike some as an odd choice to host OUTrageous Bingo – how did this relationship come about?
EM: Rodef Shalom has been a great host for our event. It’s hard to find a hall big enough to hold 450+ people that does not already have a bingo of its own. To be honest, we were turned down form a few places because we are a GLBT event. Rodef Shalom is a supporter of the Pittsburgh GLBT community, they also host Bet Tikvah, a gay Jewish congragation.
KS: Who are some of the personalities that have performed at an Outrageous Bingo?
EM: Drag entertainment is coordinated by Thea Trix. Previously Marsha Mallow and Ivann Traylor were the drag hostesses.
KS: Can you tell us about a favorite OUTrageous Bingo moment or even an aspect of the event that has a positive impact on the community – or both!
EM: Our bingo caller Rick likes to tell this story:
When he calls O-69 the players all say ‘OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOh’. There was a woman who always brought her kids to bingo and they would say ‘OOOOOOOOOOOOh’ when O-69 was called, just like everyone else. She took the kids to her church bingo and when O-69 was called the kids did their usual ‘OOOOOOOOOh’ and everyone looked at them funny. The event is so much more than bingo. It’s an opportunity for the GLBT community to come together and enjoy themselves and be who they are. We start off every season with Cindy Shaffer singing the gay anthem “I Am What I Am”. It truly brings a tear to my eye to see everyone in that hall standing and loudly singing along with her.
You’re probably wondering how serious this bingo sesh is. Here’s the breakdown of games:
Tickets are available in advance for $15 online, at Banner Coin Exchange downtown and at Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Strip. There are a limited number of tickets available at the door for $18 but they regularly sell out so it’s a good idea to get tickets in advance.
12 regular bingo games that pay $100 for the prize (these are included with admission)
3 early bird games that pay $25 & $50 (These are bought separately)
3 Special games (Top or Bottom? ; Aim for the Hole; and the Quickie) these pay $200 and are sold separately
Dates are as follows: February 9, March 9, April 13, and May 4. Then they take the summer off and start again in September.
If you like bingo, enjoy supporting the GLBT community or just down to have a good time, try and check out one of their upcoming events before summer hits!