The methodical pleasure that comes from a rousing game of bingo and the sharply contoured pizzazz of a drag show will meet at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s Pride Bingo, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 3.
Emceed by drag performer Sandy Beach, with special performances by queens like Morgan Wells, Alexia Love and Lemon Fresh Joy, this bingo party will kickoff Pride Month with a bang … and several excited shouts of “BINGO!”
“It’s going to be a party. We’re going to have some drag performances,” says Liza Costandino, director of communications at Borgata. “The bars will be open, and we’ll have some signature cocktails.”
If the always-entertaining promise of drag performances isn’t enough of a sell, those signature cocktails — starting at $7 — and the killer prizes, like overnight stays at Borgata, dinners, spa treatments and the grand prize of a $1,000 Borgata gift card, will certainly put this bingo game a notch above what can be found at your local retirement home.
Chris Rock has never been afraid to speak his mind.
Though Pride Bingo may seem like a fresh spin on an old game, it actually has a history within Atlantic City’s LGBT community, adding a touch of nostalgia to the Borgata event.
“Actually, we did gay bingo — called red ribbon bingo — as a fundraiser for the AIDS Alliance a while ago,” says Richard Helfant, president of The Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance. “It was presented at the Taj, Resorts and what was the Sands property. It thrived. Why it left, I don’t know. So now that it’s back, I think the excitement has been overwhelming.”
The GLBT Alliance was started in 2010 with the aim of making diversity a priority in the Atlantic City area.
“We wanted to reestablish A.C. as a place for the LGBT community,” Helfant says. “When casinos came into play, diversity went by the wayside. We wanted to bring it back.”
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Fortunately for the Alliance, the Miss’d America pageant, a spoof on Miss America where drag performers compete for the coveted crown, returned to Atlantic City in 2010, and has since become the signature event of the Alliance. Miss’d America found a warm home at Borgata in 2015, and will return for the third time at the property later this year. Pride Bingo will raise money for the pageant, which will in turn raises money for LGBT charities.
“There are a lot of properties in A.C. that say they’re diversity friendly, but no one has stepped up to the plate like the people at Borgata have,” Helfant says. “They have rolled out the rainbow welcome mat, and we couldn’t ask for more.”
Both Pride Bingo and Miss’d America factor into Borgata’s OUT campaign, which focuses on inclusivity and quality programming to reach a diverse audience. Launched in 2015, OUT at Borgata has earned the casino a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index and a spot among the 2016 and 2017 list of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”
“Borgata has always had a huge commitment to inclusivity. Getting to know Rich and the local LGBT community, we thought it would be a great program,” says Costandino, who played a big role in launching OUT at Borgata. “We had always spoke to the LGBT community at Borgata, but never in a specific way, not with a dedicated brand like OUT. We realized now was the time, and we wanted to get more involved, not just from a service standpoint, but to help the community.”