If you’re a gay resident of Los Angeles — or a fun-loving ally, or a regular SoCal visitor — chances are you’ve planned a fun night out at Jeffrey Bowman’s Legendary Bingo. It’s the gold standard of all drag bingo events, having staged jam-packed, raucous events at the Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood — three nights per week, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays — for 20 years.
A 20-year anniversary is no small feat, and to honor this community-minded feat of Jeffrey Bowman’s drag bingo, the City of Los Angeles and the City of West Hollywood both issued proclamations to Legendary Bingo earlier this week. Over the years Bowman’s event has been acknowledged by several local publications as the “Best Drag Show in Los Angeles,” and just this year Legendary Bingo was awarded a special commendation by AIDS Project Los Angeles.
Even more importantly, since 1998 Legendary Bingo events have raised more than $6.5 million for local, national and international charities and organizations. A jaw-dropping accomplishment, indeed.
The cast of characters of L.A.’s most popular drag bingo events include several names you’re likely familiar with, including Drag Race alum Willam Belli, Calpernia Addams, Deven Green, Ingenue, Joel Bryant and Roxy Wood. Plus a constantly rotating roster of special celebrity guests and ball-callers.
In honor of Legendary Bingo’s 20th anniversary, we asked Bowman to gather some of his all-time favorite drag bingo snapshots from the past two decades. They’re photos that truly capture the gay cultural significance and fun-loving nature of one of L.A.’s most boisterous charitable events.
“This is how ‘the staff’ dresses for work,” says Bowman. “There are no Casual Fridays.”
“Singing superstar Sia drops by with Our Lady J, Whitney Cummings and other friends just to play some bingo and raise money for charity.”
“Molly Shannon shows up and does her ‘Sally O’Malley I’m 50’ bit and then convinces a guy in the audience to take off his shirt and run around the room.”
“We encourage our guests to feel comfortable at Legendary Bingo.”
“Sometimes we get to work outside! This is the rooftop of The Americana at Brand, and there are 700 people ready to play bingo.”
“We don’t discriminate because of religious beliefs…”
“And sometimes when you are on break, you get to hang out with your favorite TV mom, Florence Henderson!”
“So there you have it,” says Bowman. “Twenty years later and it’s still the best job in the world.”
This last pic was snapped by Davide Laffe at the 20-year anniversary. Here’s to 20 more years!