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Jack Cullen


London's famous Gay Bingo Boat Party returns!

Our guide to one of this summer's unmissable events in the capital...


There are three hot tickets on the London gay scene this summer: Sink The Pink’s Summer Ball at The Troxy, Bianca Del Rio’s mini-residency at The Black Cap, and the final ever Gay Bingo Boat Party. All three parties promise to be extraordinary, terrifying, unique pieces of gay culture, and all three are selling faster than Jake Bass fillets on a bed of buttery mash.

2012’s Gay Bingo Boat Party (they're bi-annual) was hands down the best four hours of entertainment that the Thames has ever seen. A guerilla-Priscilla take on the Queen's vanilla flotilla, hotter than the great fire and more headless than Anne Boleyn, it's a London boat party like no other. The word "legendary" could be applied to the boat's boarding ramp alone.

As tourists packed themselves onto Tower Bridge to watch the unveiling of the Olympic Rings, their attention was diverted as down below sped along Jonny Woo, dressed as Mary Portas, rapping atop a house beat, yelling out the bingo numbers while a patent-heeled John Sizzle and pig-nosed Ma Butcher wrestled on deck, a carrier bag stuck in Ma’s wig, lipstick smudged across Sizzle’s crotch.

And then there were the guests… one dressed in a motorcycle helmet and backless pants, a couple of bears in Gaultier, Donna Summer, Paul Foot, and good old Amber who wore nothing but sunglasses and a strong cocktail, completely oblivious to the passing seagulls that pecked at her breasts.

Gay Bingo was supposed to have finished for good last year with the big send-off party at Hackney Empire. After all, the three artistes behind the incredulous night are too busy these days. John Sizzle is billed at nights so frequently in East London now that we recently saw a gay teenage punter in the toilets of Superstore pointing at his name on a poster and saying “So is Sizzle the name of this downstairs bit? Or is it a different venue?”

Ma Butcher is some sort of eighties PR guru today, working wirelessly from the poolside at Shoreditch House. She eloped with a Spanish farmhand and spends the evenings creating what she calls “happenings” at the George & Dragon, East Bloc and anywhere else she finds herself.

Jonny Woo, as ever, is headlining the city each weekend twice over with his wheelie rack of kaftans, psychedelic songbook and psycho-delish make-up sack. He’ll soon be checking in at Glastonbury, Latitude and then Edinburgh to perform his latest demure furore – a larger-than-life Lou Reed fantasia with a fully-blown backing band and trannies galore (that's a GT exclusive, kids).

And so this final Gay Bingo Party is most likely to be the last one for a long time, at least two years, possibly forever if John Sizzle knocks back one bottle of Prosecco too many and decides to belly flop into the Lime Haus basin.

Gay Bingo 'Legendary' Boat Party is on Sunday 3 August and you can find tickets here.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get better. Jacqui Potato will be giving a show on board and Hannah bloody Holland is DJ’ing! Divine. For more information and giggles fire up Facebook.

Words Jack Cullen, @jackcullenuk

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