19 July, Cabana By Ian Thomas
The Cabana is filled with folk of a mixture of ages and orientations: Heterosexuals outnumber gays who in turn outnumber bisexuals. Timberlina elicits this information with her first question to the audience. Further probing reveals many of the crowd have never played bingo.
She enters the room dancing and lip syncing to Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl. She shimmies, shakes her booty, shakes her boobies, gestures generously with arms and legs and jazz hands, lavishly made up under a flowing red wig. She moves at times gracefully, at times raunchily, always eye-catching in high boots. She dazzles us with her glitter and her ability to do the splits.
Bingo ensues. Three rounds with intervals during which we are invited to go “outside for a fag” and to refill our beverages. Each new round is prefaced with music, dancing, and lip syncing of defiant standards: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor then Proud Mary by Tina Turner (cue costume change into a Tina-esque shimmering mini-dress).
The bingo is lascivious, salacious, lubricious with a little innuendo, and a large helping of direct sexual reference: as subtle as a rubber penis stuck to a baseball cap (actually the penalty headwear for premature wails of “Bingo!”). The audience laps it all up. Enthusiasm grows as inhibition wanes.
Timberlina expertly coaxes higher spirits from the crowd; laying down her brand of drag. Talking, oh so frequently, about dicks (we come to learn of the tape and the three layers of spandex that hide Timberlina’s).
This is drag rather than female impersonation. It’s glam-dramatics and fun. An evening of ‘80’s nightclub disco music, a drag queen and – wait for it – a drag queen’s parents. This family from New South Wales giving us another reason to smile and ponder how different various lives can be. Timberlina’s mum circles the room making sure everyone’s OK. Timberlina’s dad stands by the door, arms folded.
In little more than two hours Timberlina injects huge energy and well-practised bingo calling that delights the audience. There’s no better venue in Hawke’s Bay for this retro-glam-disco-ball-drag-bingo night. Punters join Timberlina at the end of the show for more dancing, more lip-syncing (veering into bad karaoke). We sashay out into the night; who knows how long the dance party continued.