L.A. Scene October ’09: Gay Bingo, Lesbian Attack, and Honoring Wanda Sykes


L.A. Scene is a monthly column that chronicles lesbian nightlife and events of interest in Los Angeles. Sarah Witness, an East Coast transplant and obvious femme, has been navigating the snark infested waters of Hollywood since 2001. Although she’s an NYU trained actress, she prefers sipping vodka and making idle chit-chat at really gay nightclubs.

Palihouse and Primal

They say that moving ranks higher than death or divorce on the stress-o-meter of life. Which may explain why I’ve come down with some sort of tuberculosis and have the attention span of a toddler.

That’s right, I’m U-Hauling it.

So this month, I declined most beneficial and informative event invitations, and opted instead to do a quick-fire tour of all the places I could still walk to, before my lease ran out.

My friend and acclaimed director Lee Friedlander invited me to hear her girlfriend Marianna Fox perform at Palihouse.

Lee Friedlander and Marianna Fox

Palihouse is a very chic hotel/restaurant/lounge that popped up about two years ago on my corner. They don’t let you in if you are wearing flip-flops, which makes it a curious destination for lesbian acoustic guitar performances.  Marianna typically performs in NYC, but is out here recording an album with her brother James Fuchs. She did a beautiful, soulful, and blessedly short set.

I love acoustic guitar, but if it goes on too long it can lead to dangerous amounts of self-reflection, which in my case can lead to dangerous amounts of vodka and/or pizza consumption. The crowd was small, but lesbionically diverse, with everyone from photographer Beck Starr to comedienne Dana Eagle in attendance.

Needing an escape from introspection, I decided to see what the boys were up to. Wednesday night is Bingo night at the local, campy watering hole, Hamburger Mary’s. This is the place to go when you are looking to kick back, have fun, and drink a fishbowl-sized cocktail served by an adorable tank top clad gay guy/straight guy who passes for gay and may or may not have been in the national tour of Fosse

Gay Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s

A continuous loop of the ABBA hit “Dancing Queen” plays in the bathroom, and your bill comes in a sequined high heel. It’s a guy spot, but if you are a girl, you are fussed over and admired nonetheless. 

Wednesday night is not your grandma’s bingo, with the winning cards being called “The Rim Job,” “The Top and Bottom,” and so on. Still, you get the cool inky bingo pen. Proceeds go to local charities, on my night, The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. I didn’t win, but I did enjoy some lovely fried macaroni balls. Who invented that?  Bad!

Still on a Weho roll, a group of us headed off to Shannon K’s newest promotion, Primal. It’s a Saturday night lesbian event at Oak Fire Pizza, which is a weird place for a lesbian night, but say “pizza” and I’m in! They have excellent food (because it’s pizza, hello!) and drinks and a candlelit patio.

Sadly, we had to leave prematurely because the drink/candle combo caused my usually coordinated girlfriend to light her hair on fire. I, uh, didn’t notice, but my more astute friend Lesa extinguished her for me. More on Primal another time!

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