ORLANDO – The subject matter is nothing if not topical – the Jerry Sandusky child molestation trial in Pennsylvania, Florida state bingo laws, reviews of Hollywood movies ….
… and, of course, nipple clamps.
“Look what she won,” Michael Wanzie said, as he pointed to the woman standing near the stage in the bar, holding her newly acquired prize.
“It’s a nipple clamp four-pack,” Wanzie added.
That prompted Wanzie’s co-host, Miss Sammy, to add, “Just what you need.”
Welcome to the Parliament House, the gay resort on Orange Blossom Trail that aims to provide entertainment every night of the week. And on Wednesday, it was Beach Blanket Bingo night. Wanzie and Miss Sammy handed out three bingo cards to each of the patrons who filled up the resort’s bar, taking up all of the available seats and watching the monitors as the two hosts read out the numbers.
“Ladies, we’d like to call your attention to the bingo monitors,” said Wanzie, who also serves as the artistic director for the resort and its Footlight Theater.
On this particular night, Beach Blanket Bingo was just a prelude to another event. The Parliament House was also hosting a special party, paying tribute to the many people who worked at last month’s 21st annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, checking tickets and ushering in patrons – all as unpaid volunteers.
The Fringe festival, held at Loch Haven Park, featured 90 shows over a nearly three week period in May.
The P-House, as its well known locally, agreed to host a party in honor of those Fringe volunteers, said George Wallace, the general manager of the Fringe.
“It’s a little appreciation party for all the Fringe volunteers,” he said.
Before the crowd was let in for the party, Wanzie and Miss Sammy did their best to keep the bingo players entertained, not only reading the selected numbers out loud, but also offering a quip or two along the way.
As one woman won and walked over to the table filled with prizes, to make her selection, her slow glance at the items prompted Wanzie to say, “There must be something there you need. A foghorn? Vienna Cheese?”
When she finally picked something, a curious Wanzie asked, “What did she pick? Oh, cigarettes.”
There was also a running dialogue about current events in the news, like the ongoing Sandusky trial, which prompted Wanzie to raise his cup and say “I’m going to have a toast to Sandusky, since his trial is going on.”
The playwright, actor and theater director also had some advice for movie goers, cautioning that the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman” was, well, a bit of a dud.
“And let me tell you this, if you’re going to see ‘Snow White And The Huntsman,’ save your money,” Wanzie warned. “It could win an award for set direction, but they don’t know how to tell a story.”
Between the jokes and the prizes, the two hosts attracted a full house.
“This is speed bingo,” Wanzie said. “Play one card and one card only. This is your chance to win $3,000.”
Later that night, at 11 p.m., the focus shifted to Camp Drag, with a drag show by Gidget Galore.
The Parliament House is the only gay resort between Orlando and Tampa, except for the Sawmill, a gay campground in Dade City. At the P-House, though, the mixed gender attending the bingo game on Wednesday clearly demonstrated the resort’s crossover appeal to both straight and gay audiences.
The resort also continues to host special events, including an upcoming New York Street Party on Saturday, June 23.
The Parliament House has been operating as a gay resort since 1975 at 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail in downtown Orlando. Billed as the “Gayest Place in the World,” the resort can be reached by calling 407-425-7571 or logging on to http://www.parliamenthouse.com.
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