By Michelle Talsma Everson, August 2019 Issue.
My 9-year-old son is obsessed with cats. He doesn’t just love cats, he wrote-a-book-about-cat-breeds-for-a-final-project loves cats. With this love in mind, we discovered La Gattara Cat Lounge & Boutique.
La Gattara is a unique place — a cat cafe where locals can relax and hang out with cats, use the free wifi, and potentially adopt a furry friend through their partner rescue, Lost Our Home Pet Rescue. (There’s no pressure to adopt though, which makes it so unique.) They host regular yoga, movie, and other cat-themed events, and I recently discovered that they host monthly drag bingo nights. Cats and drag, what could be better? I had to learn more about how this one-of-a-kind combo got started.
“We started Drag Bingo + Cats in September 2017, just a couple of months after opening [in May 2017],” explains Missy Pruitt, owner of La Gattara. “I saw another cat cafe [in another state] doing drag bingo and it seemed so fun!”
To host the monthly event, Missy teamed up with local entertainers Felicia Minor and Freddy Prinze Charming.
“Felicia and I have been involved since its inception in September 2017,” says Freddy Prinze Charming. “We were the first people Missy came to about doing the event after she came to one of our Truth or Dare bingo nights at The Cash, and we’ve been there ever since.”
Missy shares that the events happen monthly on a Friday, cost $25 per person, and usually last 3-3.5 hours. Attendees can BYOB (or wine), and there is bingo, socializing, and, of course, cat-themed prizes (including a coveted Betsey Johnson cat purse). The bingo usually lasts four to five rounds and, while attendees can bring their own beer or wine, it is not exclusively a 21 and older event. “Kids can come, but we ask that their adults use their own discretion with that,” Missy says.
“Some of the fun [at Drag Bingo + Cats] includes chatting it up with guests, welcoming them to the cat lounge, selling raffle tickets and, of course, calling numbers and having fun,” says Felicia.
“We talk to them [the attendees] about the cat lounge, about ‘Let’s Have a Fefe,’ (the duo’s weekly podcast), and we make connections,” adds Freddy. “We’ve met so many people, so many of whom support us outside of bingo nights now, which is amazing.”
So, what’s the importance of blending two seemingly different audiences (cat rescue and drag performers)?
“We put up a sign at the cat cafe when we first opened that says everyone is welcome,” Missy says. “I grew always feeling judged, and I want people to know they can come here and not be judged. This is a safe space. By doing the Drag Bingo + Cats event, people who have never been to a drag event can learn more about it. We have little old ladies who never went to a drag event in their lives and now they won’t miss one. Because of cats, two completely different worlds [drag and cat rescue] can have fun together.”
“We’re one of, if not the longest running drag bingo in Phoenix that takes place in a venue that isn’t an LGBTQ+ establishment or bar,” says Freddy. “Being visible to audiences who may not often have a lot of contact with our community just means we get to help educate and expand the minds of the folks who come to see us. Bingo is all ages, so we get quite a few kids and teens that come, and they love seeing Felicia and I all dressed up. They get to interact with the type of people that maybe they’ve only heard about or seen on TV and, in return, we get to show them that drag artists are just normal people.”
Each Drag Bingo + Cats event also has a theme.
“It’s a great time for everyone to have a good time and be in a safe space, especially if you love cats and meeting new people from all walks of life,” Felicia shares. “Freddy and I love to have a good time. Each month there is a theme and we encourage costumes to fit the theme.”
The bond between the entertainment team and La Gattara goes beyond monthly bingo nights. This past spring, Felicia and Freddy joined La Gattara supporters on a float in the pride parade.
“I’m an ally and friend, and I want the community to know that La Gattara is a place of love and acceptance,” Missy shares. “Peace, love, meow.”
In addition to the monthly Drag Bingo + Cats event, Freddy and Felicia recently had a drag story time with the kids at La Gattara’s summer cat camp and a drag bingo event that welcomed the children and their families. “Drag artists aren’t often seen outside of LGBTQ+ spaces, so to show the children that, it helps them to understand and they bring that understanding back home to their parents,” Missy says.
“La Gattara is a wonderful, welcoming space for everyone,” Freddy shares. “Drag Bingo + Cats is a great way to support a local, small business, that promotes animal rescue and educates along the way. There are few spaces that can be considered a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community outside of the bars, and Missy and her staff have always made sure that La Gattara is one of those spaces.”
To learn more about La Gattara Cat Lounge & Boutique’s Drag Bingo + Cats and other events, visit lagattaracatcafe.com/events.
Drag Bingo + Cats Upcoming Events
August 23, theme: The 1970s
September 27, theme: TBD
October 11, theme: Felicia’s birthday bash!
All events start at 7 p.m. See website for most updated info and pricing.