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Drag divas raise record $12,156 for Nye County animals at sold-out Pahrump show – PHOTOS

When three local nonprofit animal rescues need to raise money, they regularly turn to the queens of charitable fundraising — the DIVA Drag Queen Charity Bingo entertainers from Las Vegas.

Last year at the end of March following a four-year break, Tails of Nye County, Never Forgotten Animal Society Inc. and Furgotten Friends Dog Rescue enlisted drag queens from the group to host a charity bingo event at the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino.

The drag charity‘s director Ernie Yuen said the queens broke their 18-year fundraising record in 2022 by raking in more than $10,000 for local animals.

“[We] raised the most money we’ve ever raised,” Yuen said.

That was until this year’s April 8 event at the Pahrump Nugget when they brought in $12,156 — setting a new record and helping support three of Nye County‘s nonprofit animal rescues. Saturday’s event also had record attendance of 238.

Even with extra tables crammed in the event center to accommodate 28 extra people, several others were turned away — a real drag for them.

About the divas

The charity bingo organization, formerly known as Pride Family Bingo, produces shows in Las Vegas every Wednesday for qualified nonprofits (usually animal rescues).

In 2022, the queens held 43 events, grossing a total of $63,000 for worthy causes.

The bingo queens takes a modest fee to cover their cost for the show — no more than $200 — meaning 90 percent of funds go directly to support their causes, Yuen said.

“So the difference with this bingo, once we pay all our bills and we take care of the fees, then what will happen is the charity gets the balance of the money,” says Yuen.

In this case, the net amount was split in three equal ways between Nye’s local animal rescues.

“We just bring the concept and it’s a turnkey for them [the charities],” Yuen said. “We bring the bingo machine, the daubers and all the whistles and bells that you need.”

The bells and whistles included the drag queens of course.

For this event, Diva Toxxx and Carnie Asada performed three dance numbers for a dollar-bill-waving crowd. They changed outfits an impressive four times and provided comedic commentary throughout the event.

The charities supplied prizes for the bingo winners, raffle drawings and live auctions that were donated by individuals and local businesses.

Hostile climate for drag

The queens on Saturday spoke to the Pahrump Valley Times on the political climate toward drag performers, trans people and the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign reported earlier this year that it was fighting against 340 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in several states, including 150 that restricted the rights of trans people.

“They’re focusing this shit on us and not what’s really going on in the U.S.: Gun control,” Toxxx said. “They’re killing more kids in America instead of addressing the real issues.”

Toxxx says drag is simply a job for her.

“I work in a nightclub in Vegas four nights a week, and what are the possibilities: I won’t have a job,” she said. “I don’t want to think about it. It’s like it was in the 70s. It’s a distraction, that’s all it is.”

Here in Pahrump, library trustees this week voted 5-0 to devise a plan to scrutinize LGBTQ children’s books there and recatalog titles they find unfit for kids to elsewhere in the library.

Details of that plan are still being worked out.

“It’s a disaster,” said drag entertainer Carnie Asada of the culture wars against the LGBTQ community. “The Right is weaponizing children again to…get their point across and gain sympathy with their followers. They’ve basically been doing it since I’ve been alive, which is almost 40 years. If they want something done, they use the children to garner sympathy with their followers.”

While trans people, drag queens, non-binary and queer people have always existed, Yuen acknowledged the growing anti-rhetoric around the community.

“We didn’t invent drag queen bingo. Drag queen bingo has been going on forever,” he said. ”Ninety-percent of the people that come to this bingo [are] our allies. The LGBTQ community supports it, but really if you take a look today, the majority of people don’t really care. They just want to come and have fun, and mainly a lot of them come to raise money [for the charities].”

John Clausen is a freelance journalist in Pahrump.

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