It was a night of glamour, giggles, and grappling (of cats) at the Shabby Tabby Cat Café on Friday, June 18, for its Pride Month drag bingo with the fabulously dressed and poetically raunchy Annie Manildoo (“any man will do”).
Bingo Night, a fixture of the drag scene, has done well at the Cat Café, with the regular event being one of the fastest to sell out.
Cat lovers and drag lovers come and fall in love with the other, as the crooning and mewling invites them in.
Cat Café owner Ryan Shea has been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community since starting the café at the older location, west on Main Street.
“We have expanded our Pride merch a ton over time and will continue to do so,” said Shea. “We always have LGBTQ+-friendly events and are always looking for new ideas. We amp it up a bit in June for Pride Month, but we always have our Pride flag, Pride merch, and welcoming atmosphere! Cats don’t exclude, and neither do we!”
And the grand dame of the cat-tastic scene?
Long Island’s premier drag queen, Annie Manildoo.
“Annie is the best! We love having her; there’s never a dull moment! Her events always bring tons of laughs and awesome crowds. We need people like Annie more than ever right now to lighten the mood of society as a whole. She makes everyone feel welcomed and included in the environment, also,” said Shea of why Manildoo is such a recurring host of Drag Bingo Night.
For this evening, Manildoo donned a shocking silver hairdo reminiscent of Ursula (actually based on drag legend, Divine), with her signature extreme contouring on her aristocratically framed cheekbones.
A sapphire-blue ensemble rounded out the early summer vibes as Manildoo debuted some new music, including a crowd-favorite that was a meld of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and snippets of a viral eHarmony profile video that was perhaps too devoted to a connection with cats.
Manildoo takes up to two hours to get her signature look for the evening, boasting over two tote bags of wigs (“Only 10 are wearable,” according to her), many of which are blonde, silver, or white.
“In my non-drag appearance, I have the blackest hair, but for drag I just feel blonde looks better on me,” claimed the bombshell.
Her makeup routine has taken some time to perfect in the eight years she has been performing in drag, but now has staples of La Femme, Batme, and Chaotic Cosmetics (actually owned by a fellow drag performer, Ashley Jade).
“The vibrancy of the eyeliner is unparalleled—and it only takes three seconds to apply and doesn’t take 30 minutes to dry like most other eyeliners. And it never smudges,” said Manildoo of Chaotic.
The signature eyebrow-taming of drag queens, usually utilizing Elmer’s Glue Sticks, is a different process for Manildoo, who uses a combination of spirit gum and scar wax (often used for prosthetic-appearing noses or chins).
Manildoo is thankful for the platform of the Cat Café, as her early drag career found paucity in LGBTQ+-friendly venues, with Long Island having few gay bars.
In a serendipitous turn of events, Manildoo has established a mostly straight audience performing in non-LGBTQ+ spaces.
“When the Bunk House in Sayville closed, a lot of drag performers gave up,” said Manildoo. “A lot of them thought, ‘Why continue? There’s no queer audience.’”
But Manildoo feels strongly that drag performances are not only for queer audiences, but a generous helping of theater for all to enjoy, especially after programs like “Drag Race” brought the medium into the forefront of the American psyche.
Asked about what advice she would have for those just starting out in drag performance, Manildoo jokingly replied, “Run and never look back!”
“Try to be a part of a drag family. It comes from the queer culture of the balls of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While not necessary, the concept is still alive and quite nurturing. Drag queens often refer to each other as sister, mother. And this gives you a chance to support local queer people in your area.”
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