It’s Monday night and you and your roommates discuss early plans for the weekend. You all decide to try something new: you’re going to watch a drag show. “Dining with the Divas” at Hamburger Mary’s in the Bay View outlet pops up at the top of your Google search.
You call to make reservations but are out of luck. All four of this weekend’s shows are booked. Welcome to the increasingly popular drag culture in the Cream City. Hamburger Mary’s stands out from other Milwaukee burger joints with its garish purple exterior and drag queen statue welcoming visitors. At the end of a meal, the check arrives tucked in a stiletto heel.
The restaurant is small, so drag shows book up fast. The interior is dark and cramped, with seating.
That is, until the clock strikes eight on Wednesday night and the venue transforms. You hear a Cher classic blare from the speakers. An array of colors—blue, red, and yellow—stream from lights on the ceiling, setting the mood for the wild time that awaits.
From behind the stage emerges a character with big glasses, big breasts, and even bigger red hair. She dances to the music, strutting around the restaurant while lip-synching and collecting singles from the patrons. She stops at one table and shoves a restaurant-goer’s face into her bosom.
Say hello to Dear Ruthie, your caller for HamBingo. She’s raunchy and crude, but Dear Ruthie knows how to breathe life into bingo.
Throughout the 10 bingo rounds there are ways to win mini-prizes from an array of dollar section finds. The staff sets each table with a pre-decorated tabletop theme as part of a prize competition. Dear Ruthie pulls a slip of paper with a tabletop theme from a red bowl and the winners get a prize. Some tables are as simple as red while others have a Betty Boop or Jazz theme.
Anytime Dear Ruthie calls B11, the first person to raise their hand up and yell a certain word wins a prize. However, the bingo regulars were so quick every time, it was impossible to understand the word. The regulars are impressively fast and enthusiastic but worryingly devoted to bingo. Halfway through, Dear Ruthie takes a break and reemerges to a Destiny’s Child hit. She changes into a new outfit—a bright green Hello Kitty dress. After another strut around the room, the game resumes.
Any time there is a winner, other players crumple up their bingo cards and toss them at the winner, yelling, “Screw you!” If someone falsely claims a bingo win, the entire restaurant shames them, yelling, “You suck!”
This free-to-play charity game is no church basement bingo event, but don’t hesitate to “Eat, drink and be…Mary,” because a portion of the night’s proceeds go to the evening’s selected charity. Drink up in the name of goodwill.