outrageous. It's funny. It's deadly serious. It's GAY BINGO, a fascinating
portrait of the monthly bingo game that has become the premiere AIDS fundraising
event in the Philadelphia region.
GAY BINGO follows
one year in the life of the event through the eyes of 11 people, each
of whom has been touched by AIDS in some way. "GAY BINGO is a moving and
humorous look at America's favorite game," says producer Glenn Holsten,
"but it's also a story about the resilience of the human spirit. All kinds
of people come together for a night to play together, to laugh together,
to celebrate life."
Gay Bingo earns money for The AIDS Fund through admission ticket sales, and games typically sell out in 15 minutes. Additional funds are raised through sponsorships. The Gay Bingo craze began in Seattle, and additional games are springing up in Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Proceeds fund direct care services for people living with AIDS or HIV, education for people at risk and prevention programs.
GAY BINGO captures
the spirit of the diverse group of people that turn out each month to
find fun, friendship and fulfillment. The program weaves together the
amusing traditions of the game (everyone must stand whenever "O-69" is
called) with real-life stories of dedicated AIDS fundraisers, educators
and survivors. Among the many participants viewers will meet are:
"Carlota Ttendent," a hostess, who by day, is Micheal Byrne, an employee of Action AIDS.
The BVDs, "Penny Nickels" and "Ida Slapter," drag queens on inline skates, who draw fans with their breathtaking gowns and monumental hair.
Volunteers Immy and Phil Ferrara, whose son, Philip, died of AIDS four years ago, who handle the finances for the event. Immy is founder of the support group, A Mother's Pledge.
Steven Burch, who comes to bingo with his coworkers from the AIDS Coalition of Southern NJ. Since being diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in 1994, he has devoted his life to educating young people to protect themselves against HIV and AIDS.
Chauncey Sullivan, a hard-core bingo fan, who prepares a fried chicken picnic to bring to the monthly event.
GAY BINGO salutes Paul Corson, one of the first pharmacists in Philadelphia to actively support AIDS patients in the 1980s. "I sensed something was happening that was very profound in the health community," he recalls. "I made the decision to do anything in my power to help the AIDS community."
GAY BINGO is produced and directed by Glenn Holsten with associate producer Emily Topper. The program is made possible by Eastern Educational Network, Pennsylvania Public Television Network and members of WHYY.