For almost a year now, the Nauti Parrot Dock Bar at 19001 San Carlos Boulevard has hosted the extraordinarily popular Drag Queen Bingo, with fundraising efforts benefiting local non-profits such as the Beach Elementary School and New Year’s Eve Fireworks. While Drag Queen Bingo is a rollicking good time, it is perhaps appropriate, however, that it occurs at a venue with the word “Nauti” in it, as it is most definitely an evening for adults who are not averse to sexual innuendo or a night out hosted by a larger-than-life 6’4” Drag Queen!
At 7:30 p.m. Alyssa Lemay, “like the cheap fabric,” struts front-&-center to welcome the crowd! When she asked how many of the 104 attendees are first-timers to Drag Queen Bingo, roughly 20% raise their hands. She explained that there will be eight different kinds of Bingo games throughout the evening, “and if there is a tie, the first person who runs up and slaps me on the back end wins – it’s memory foam so you won’t forget this butt!”
There is plenty of audience interaction, most of which can’t be shared in a family newspaper. When the rules confuse one man, Alyssa said to his wife, “He’s (slow) but he’s pretty, so I see why you had to bring him!” The humor throughout the night is bawdy and risqué, so if your sensibilities lean toward the conservative side, stick with church Bingo!
There is one game each of standard Bingo, modified four squares, diagonal, “Bingo The Hard Way,” Cock & Bull, Lucky 7, Last Man Standing, and Coverall. Winners receive gift prizes, with the Coverall victor $100. Admission is $20-per-person, including everything necessary for Bingo, with food and beverages extra. It begins at 7:30 and takes roughly two hours.
“The concept for Drag Queen Bingo began when a former bar manager and myself went to see a Drag Show at the Dixie Road House,” explained Nauti Parrot co-owner Tyler Geib. “Alyssa was the host and was so much fun! After the show, the three of us spoke and we discovered she did events like Karaoke and Bingo and we thought the latter would be perfect for us down here near the beach so we began pretty quickly after that. The first few weeks were slow but we did some advertising and the word-of-mouth spread fast, and by the end of last season the house was full! We are so jammed now that we encourage reservations at 239-314-5667 because we are turning people away at the door!”
While Tyler said that it is often the same crowd – overwhelmingly ladies – from week to week, “Alyssa is so funny and talented that every week is a fresh show. Her gowns are beautiful and over-the-top, and in almost one year, I have never seen her wear the same thing twice.”
Local Charities Benefit
Drag Queen Bingo benefits a different Fort Myers Beach area charity each month, not only because that is important to the Nauti Parrot but because “there must be a 501c3 component to host Bingo, or else you would be engaging in illegal gambling,” explained Alyssa. “I would not do it otherwise, as prison orange is not a good color for me!” “We always like to help the community,” added Tyler. “If you have a worthwhile cause, contact us at the Nauti Parrot and speak with Mary, who coordinates the charities. In January, we are raising money for the Friends of Lovers Key State Park and their Welcome & Discovery Center, and in February those donations will be for a new Bay Oaks Recreational Center van on Tuesdays and the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club renovation on our newly expanded night of Fridays beginning on February 8.” Near the end of the night, Tyler and Alyssa presented Debbie Voorhees of Friends of LKSP a $3,910 check!
“We are expanding to Fridays,” Tyler said, “because we hate to turn anyone away, plus it was open on Alyssa’s schedule, as we would not do Bingo with anyone but her! We had one week when she couldn’t make it, and another Drag Queen took her place, but it just wasn’t the same – she is the best!” For now, Tyler only offers Drag Queen Bingo at the San Carlos Boulevard location. “We considered it for our North Fort Myers site but Alyssa’s schedule is full; we won’t do it without her because she is fabulous!”
In addition to the Nauti Parrot, Alyssa hosts Drag Queen Bingo at Dowd’s Pub & Grill on South US 41 each Wednesday at 7 p.m.; Thursdays at The Standard Restaurant in Downtown Fort Myers at 7 p.m., the 3rd Sunday of every month at Nice Guys Pizza in Cape Coral from Noon to 2 p.m.; and Caloosahatchee Jack’s Bingo the 1st & 3rd Saturday at 5 p.m., along with “Karaoke Brunch” at The Standard Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information or her other appearances, see alyssalemay.com.
Lots of Smiles
While Drag Queen Bingo is held year-round, like everything else on Fort Myers Beach, attendance falls during the summer. “We go down to about 40 people, rather than the usual 100,” said Alyssa. “I love that though, because it is a more intimate experience, where I can really work the tables and personally joke with almost everyone.” “The summer is when we see locals,” added Tyler, “as that is when they have free time to come out and enjoy themselves.”
In trying to explain the Drag Queen Bingo phenomenon, “for people on Fort Myers Beach, it pulls them out of their comfort zone,” said Alyssa. “Once people discover how much harmless fun this really is, they can’t wait to bring others back with them. Plus Chef Scott’s menu rocks it up, and being on the water is amazing!” “It is a chance for people to just let go and have fun with a different kind of experience not offered anywhere else on Fort Myers Beach,” said Tyler. “It is perfect for groups of friends and family, and who doesn’t love Bingo!”
When asked what he feels is the best part of Drag Queen Bingo, Tyler offers, “We put big smiles on people’s faces! After what we all endured last summer with our environment and water, and what we are all going through now after the tragedy of Dr. Leroy Hommerding at the Beach Library, it is important to have outlets where people can laugh, have fun and get away from reality for a while.” Alyssa added, “I get to run around from table to table and have fun with and interact and joke around and laugh with all the guests here, and before you know it, we are all friends. A lot of the things I say are just stupid, but are never insulting or demeaning, nor at anyone’s expense, so we all just have a great time!”
By Gary Mooney