I’ve always enjoyed traditional bingo, mostly because it’s a lazy-man’s sport. You don’t have to use your legs, you only have to know how to count to 75 and you get to play with oversized dabbing markers. So, how does one improve on this incredibly pointless game? By mixing in scantily clad burlesque dancers, of course.
“I hate to admit it, but the best ideas are stolen,” said Morris, “This town loves burlesque and the alliteration is great.”
I couldn't agree more, and since I’m a huge fan of low-stakes gambling, dancing ladies and alliteration, I excitedly rode my bike to Piper Down last Thursday night to check it out. Now, every week this event is hosted by a different burlesque troop, but this particular evening was emceed by two dancers from the Salt City Sirens, Roxy Boudelaire and Ms. Dottie Haute.
I’m sure you’re aware that Utah has some pretty arcane liquor laws, so, unfortunately, you can’t just roll up to a bar and buy a stack of gamblin’ cards. That being said, Piper Down does bingo the way Joseph Smith intended -- for every round you buy, you get two bingo cards, a free stage show with half-naked ladies and the chance to compete for prizes like $20 tabs, various bar swag and one big-money item like a pair of Real Salt Lake tickets.
It sounds easy enough: The more you drink the more you win. All you have to do is pay attention to the numbers called and have the hand/eye coordination of a St. Bernard. So, what’s the strategy? There isn’t one. It's pure luck. The only concrete strategy I can offer is to use the provided dabbers and don't use a pen -- it strains the wrist and tears the flimsy bingo paper.
Also, it's a good idea to have some prepared jokes on hand. Seriously. Whenever the burlesque dancers pluck a ball that falls in the “I” row -- for example, I-29 -- they’ll say something along the lines of, “When I was 29 I …” and immediately hand the mic to someone in the audience.
When this happened to me, I was completely caught off guard and responded with, “Uh, when I was 29, I was … uh… really good at bingo." No one laughed. "Ok, I’ll just see myself out.” The whole ride home I was thinking of things I should of said. I felt like Costanza when he came up with the jerkstore joke.
Unfortunately, during the first two rounds I didn’t win anything. But the pain of my losing streak was lessened by the spontaneous burlesque dances that went down in-between rounds. This is a brilliant strategy on Morris’ part. Not because it keeps me from getting really bored, but because when I looked around, I discovered there were more women in attendance then men. “If you can figure out something to do in your bar to attract women, you win, Morris explained, “Women come to these things. They don’t come for poker or darts, but they show up for burlesque bingo, and we get quite a few people from the gay community, as well.”
But gambling horny chicks and free burlesque were the least of my concerns. I wanted to win those damned Real tickets. So, to hedge my bets, I purposely bought roughly five beers (that’s seven beers, if your counting) and hoarded the cards till the final round. Maybe I was drunk, but it seemed like my plan was working. At one point, I was only a few spaces away from a “Blackout” (it’s a type of game where you win by having every number on your card marked), and with every call I closed my eyes and solemnly shook my fist in celebration. But the dream was over when I heard a faint voice yell, “Bingo!” from the back of the bar. Obviously, I was pissed, but, thankfully, the crowd responded with a unanimous, “Fuck your bingo!”
And that’s what burlesque bingo is all about. Even if you don’t win a pair of Real tickets, at least there are cheap beers, burlesque dancers and a crowd that will unanimously chastise anyone who wins. Plus, not once did I have to use my legs.