Krystal Caring struts into the Observatory wearing a Dolly Parton-inspired blonde wig, all the eye shadow colours of the rainbow and adorned with an abundance of rhinestone jewelry.
It catches the light and the eyes of all 200 people in the room and immediately commands the attention of the crowd that has been buzzing with anticipation of playing this month’s sold-out game of dirty bingo.
“I’m the bitch with the microphone,” announces Caring. “This is just barely the beginning.”
It sounds raucous, but it’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means Caring along with partner in drag, Zelda Marshall, are here to host a wild game of bingo that would make any grandmother blush.
The game is similar to traditional bingo, but Marshall and Caring “skank it up” by calling out dirty words that start with b, i, n, g and o in lieu of just the letters. Winners are also required to yell “hard on” and “wet pussy” instead of “bingo” in order to win prizes like DVDs, lingerie and toys.
“It can be very liberating,” says Marshall, adding that awarding winners crude risqué prizes is a fun perk.
“The people who say that they never win anything, it’s fun to give them their first ever prize.”
One of the main features of dirty bingo is the audience’s comical interactions with the hosts.
At one point in the game, a male player asks for a lap dance and Caring is more than willing to oblige all the while singing The Wheels on the Bus. “We’re hitting some bumpy terrain tonight,” jokes Caring.
Although crazy antics are always welcome in dirty bingo, players are typically respectful and and rarely cause problems for the hosts and event security.
“We’re very lucky that way. Occasionally we’ll get some idiot who tries to sneak in booze,” Marshall says with a chuckle. “People are usually here to have a good time and just cut loose and we give them that opportunity.”
Cory Lyon, a first-year photography student, is one of the many who attend the event regularly, having played four to five times in the past. He still has fun every single time.
“It’s a fun night out,” says Lyon. “It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s a nice break from school.”
Marshall and Caring have been hosting dirty bingo at the college for five years and consistently bring in a large crowd of students, many of which are frequent players.
However, Marshall was initially asked to host the event solo after Algonquin students witnessed her drag performances and nominated her for the job.
“About a year or two later they asked, ‘do you want a partner?’ and that’s when I got the perfect person to join me,” says Marshall.
“The dirty bitch,” Caring adds jokingly.
But it’s not all fun and games. Despite their outrageous personas, Marshall and Caring are passionate about using drag to support different charities and connect with people who share their personal stories.
“Like when Krystal sells her calendars for charity, she gets somebody coming up to her saying, ‘I don’t want a calendar, I just want to donate to the cause because this member of my family went through the disease you’re promoting the cause for,” says Marshall.
“Most years we do the Canadian Cancer Society. Cancer has kind of touched everyone’s lives at this point,” adds Caring. “It’s nice to know that we’re helping.”
“That’s really the reason for drag queens in the first place, to be giving to the community,” says Marshall. “Some of that perhaps gets a little lost throughout the newer wave of drag queens who just see all the glamour and are like ‘I can be like on RuPaul’ and be this really overly made up person just prancing around. There’s a very important history of drag. It’s very important that drag queens are ambassadors for the GLBT.”
And they make no qualms about dressing up and playing the part any time that duty calls.
“Any time a GLBT organization wants to have a fundraiser, call the drag queens up, lets put a show on!” says Marshall.