At an event where the mistress of ceremony's name is Shelita Hamm and dancing, singing and big hair are centerstage, how could you not expect a good time? The event — Gay Bingo — is an annual, themed shindig (this year held on Nov. 12 and 13) where hundreds of folks gather at the Grady Cole Center to play bingo while being entertained by some of Charlotte's liveliest characters. And it's for a good cause, as proceeds from the $30 admission go to benefit RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network). This time around, you can expect "A Glee-ful Celebration" as Gay Bingo spoofs the hit TV show Glee. And because this is Gay Bingo's final year, Hamm promises the two nights will be "fabulous with a capital 'F.'"
Creative Loafing: So aside from the Glee-oriented live entertainment, this isn't your traditional Bingo, right?
Shelita Hamm: No, a straight line never wins in bingo, but our straight friends are always welcome. And you'll draw fabulous things with your bingo dauber. Like, for example, we might draw a high-heeled shoe. With the numbers we call, you have to draw a high-heeled shoe to win. And the biggest rule? No premature bingos. Check and double-check before you get up and, what, scream. It's always the straight people that have the premature bingos, no offense. Never the lesbians — they check and double-check before they call.
What happens if a person's bingo card is wrong?
The last two years, we embarrassed them and tore up their bingo sheets and made them stand in the phone booth. It's cash money this time, honey.
What is your role in Gay Bingo?
Oh honey, I am the diva of ceremonies. It really is all about me. I run everything. And my BVDs support me — Bingo Verifying Divas. They help verify bingos, they're in the [song and dance] numbers; they help make me look good.
Why do you think Gay Bingo has been so successful in its 10-year run?
Honey, one word: Me. [laughs] No, honey we bring everybody together. It started off all gay, and now it's 50/50 gay/straight. Charlotte has embraced us from the beginning, and we have fun. We don't cuss, we don't swear. We love everybody, most of all our straight friends. And then again, there's me — have I mentioned that?
What has been your most memorable performance?
One of my favorite characters that I played in Gay Bingo, we did "Mommie Dearest Bingo" back in the day. And I got to be my favorite idol, Joan Crawford. I was in character, although I didn't hit any children. Love me some Joan. And I think the other one that I loved too was "Bingo at Tara," Gone With The Wind theme. There was so much going on — we were able to involve Dolly Parton songs, Debby Boone songs, and even Madonna. It was fabulous.
Have there been any strange or unusual incidents happen in past events?
We did a weird stage once, for "Hair Spray Bingo," and I fell off. I took a step and that was all she wrote. I almost hit my head on the table, and I screwed up my rotary cuff for six months, but the show went on and it was fabulous. It's all about the adrenaline, the rush, and I couldn't disappoint my fans.
Do you have a favorite outfit from any of the performances?
At "Bingo at Tara," I loved the hoopskirt. And when I did the Debby Boone number, "You Light Up My Life" — it was electrified. It was, really. It was an electric experience. The whole dress, everything. At the crescendo of "You Light Up My Life," I pulled out that orange extension cord and plugged it in and my dress was ablaze. It was a hoop on fire. You had to see it to believe it.
If Gay Bingo has been so successful, why is this its last year?
If Oprah can do it, so can we. We want to go out on top. We've done it for 10 years and we think we're at the best of our game. Give myself and my BVDs a rest, a well-deserved rest.
What are you going to do now that you're retiring?
Oh honey, go on a cruise, with my one-piece and privacy skirt — and drive all mens crazy.
$30. Nov. 12 and 13, 7:30 p.m. Grady Cole Center, 310 N. Kings Drive. For more information, visit www.gaybingocharlotte.org.