As I was posting the 2008 Bingo posters on Pinterest tonight I remembered the struggle that I had to create posters for the event once I figured that it would be just as easy for me to do it myself as it was to send all the materials to others. I'd had an awesome designer do the posters for a couple years but of course he needed to eventually move on. For the first half of 2008, my then boyfriend (who went by the name "Muffin Taco" as his Porno Bingo designer-name) put the posters together each week but as he had other pressing projects, I felt that it was time that I figured out how to do it myself.
Bit by bit I learned and started to manage it on my own. Muffin eased out of it but by the end of the year. I even took a one day intensive Photoshop class at the School for Visual Arts (even if it didn't feel like the 'beginners' class it was advertised as) .
That wasn't the only transition - no, one of the biggest transitions in Porno Bingo history happened in 2008 - when the 9th Ave. Bistro closed.
Their lease had come up for renewal and the landlord wanted to raise the rent from $8,000/month to $24,000 a month. When Bingo started, Ninth Ave. had already begun to change - new restaurants and some serious gentrifying- by 2008 it was well on it's way to becoming the big draw it is now. As has happened all over Manhattan in the past decade, institutions that have been around for decades have closed as their rents have skyrocketed.
For the Bistro, the cost of doing business was simply too high and so, with a week's notice, we did our last show. I was heartbroken. We had worked hard over the years to build the show up to fit the Bistro and now, we weren't even sure that we'd have a show when the Bistro closed. A big queer music night became our last night at the Bistro. By the end of the night I was in tears as the show lasted well into the late night hours and had raised $800 for singer Terry Christopher's Braking the Cycle ride. I was nearly inconsolable. When I walked out the door, I could not look back, I could not even go back for their final party a few days later, I knew it would be just wreck me too much.
On that last night, our bartender Manny (whom even these many years later, I miss working with VERY much) gifted me a stack of about 50 letters from beneficiaries. When we'd started, the owner, Gary, had insisted that we figure a way to insure that his patrons know that the money they're donating actually went to the cause of the week. This is why I insist that charities show up for a fundraiser that benefits them. And it's why, at the Bistro, I asked all the beneficiaries to write letters acknowledging the support of the bar and mentioning the amount raised. All those letters, over the years, had been rotated in and out of frames in the back room where the pool table lived. And at the end, a stack of them was all I had as tangible proof that we'd made a difference in our own small way.
After an exhaustive search, Muffin and I pitched the show to Pieces and they graciously accepted us as a new event to the bar. It ended up feeling like a step up (wow, two mics and a little stage! it was like we'd gone to Broadway!) and we ended up only missing two weeks, picking back up on Wed September 10th. The first minutes there were pretty much that same queasy, "how can it ever be the same" feeling that you got the first time you attended a new school as a kid. That never really went away (but by January 2009 the Bistro was a Dunkin Donuts so no, we can never go back because there is no 'there' to go back to) but it was helped by the appearance of several Bingo regulars who showed up on that first night. I nearly broke into tears again.
The last four months of 2008 was simply about us getting settled again in the new digs and adjusting to a different way of doing the show. A late in the year highlight was sitting on stage with Mimi Imfurst and having her unexpectedly recite word for word Dixie Carter's 'Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" speech from the first episode of "Designing Women".
2008 was also the first appearance of singer Molly Pope - who has been such an incredible friend these past few years as well as the first appearances of both Frank DeCaro, go go guy Torez and Studio 54 legend Dame Rollerena who are all just awesome. (Just as a side note, as you can see by the gallery, Rollerena is one of the few non porn stars to get the 'large picture' treatment)
Staff-wise, AB stayed on with me as our photographer, Amanda Takehometomother joined us as a 'monthly visitor' and bartender Chris soon became a very welcome part of Porno Bingo history.
Finally, the posters from January of 2008 were lost in a February 2008 computer crash. A reminder to all of you - backup your work on an external harddrive!! Enjoy the posters by clicking here to the Pinterest gallery.