Feeling lucky? Even better, want to get lucky in love? And want to take bingo to a whole new iconic level, literally?
Then, come on down, Wednesday night Aug. 11 to “Loteria de Amor, Numero Dos.”
To the offbeat, funkadelic-burlesque home of the bizarro and alt.drag, known already to those in the know who find their way to the long, narrow nightclub in the heart of the H Street, N.E., arts district, who dare to cross through the looking glass to the Palace of Wonders.
The venue where vaudeville is very in vogue, that houses the antics of the Cheeky Monkey, now hosts for its second regular, monthly incarnation “Loteria de Amor,” the art show that’s also a game show, in a demi-monde splash of Mexican-style bingo, or “lottery,” of 54 cards. This game is never played bingo-style with letters and numbers but always with colorful icons.
“It’s all over L.A.,” declares Chris Griffin, the Loteria impresario and the game’s co-host in his self-styled persona of “alt.dragster” Lucrezia Blozia. A Northern Virginia native son and local theatrical entrepreneur, Chris lived in Los Angeles from 2004-2009, but his encounter with his “inner Lucrezia” began much earlier, in the early 1990s, in a visit to a local theatrical props shop where he suddenly “spotted a fuchsia wig,” a crazy hot-pink color that so wowed him, he recalls, that “it all began with the wig.”
“The wig spoke to me,” says Chris in an interview with the Blade. “I had never done drag before and I wasn’t even a drag queen fan before.” Today’s Lucrezia has lost the wig and has evolved into what he calls a “colorful punk cabaret” look.
So wait till you see Lucrezia now, as she co-hosts the “Loteria Libre” — and even a wrestling-style interlude with “Lucha Liberace, the Conquistadore of the Keys” — along with her partner in crime, the inimitable Shortstaxx, always served up, says Griffin, “with a side of sass.”
By now, surely you’re getting the idea that this evening — for which doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the “pre-show cha cha” with Lucha Liberace begins at 8:30 and the main event itself runs from 9-11 p.m. — will be truly twisted.
“We wanted to do something more gay-friendly,” says Griffin, who recalls that when discussions first began with Palace of Wonders managers, and a game show like bingo was first suggested, that he cried out “no, not bingo!” But he then countered with the Loteria idea, and a new franchise was begun, the first outing occurring there on July 7, drawing a large turnout mainly by word of mouth.
There are three or four rounds of 20-minute games, played with traditional Mexican-game styled cards, like el sol, la luna, la mano, but also new creations such as el nino carra perro — or the dog-faced boy. And all 54 of the cards have been individually created by 54 D.C. and Baltimore-area artists, including numerous LGBT artists.
“It’s so visually striking, with these images instead of numbers and letters,” and players get a “tabla,” says Griffin, like a bingo card, with 16 of the images on it, and then the icons begin to be called out. Meanwhile, between games, D.C.’s own diminutive dynamo, L’il Dutch, and Honi Harlow, New York’s star of Broadway and Harlow’s Hideaway, will twirl their tassels, and magician David London will astonish.
As for getting lucky in love? Griffin swears that “we also try and hook people up,” and he claims to have actually done so in the first outing of Loteria last month. All this plus one free round of Loteria for a $10 admission, says Griffin.
Finally, amid all the “burlesquerie” there is actually art for art’s sake at the Loteria as well, and two of the featured artists — Maribeth Egan and Victoria Gaitan — will have a mini-show exhibit with their works available for purchase.
Griffin is also well known locally as founder of the Eva Brontosaurus drag troupe, featuring both Lucrezia and Shortstaxx. He is also a writer and executive producer of the Hope Operas, which will return to the local stage in October.