Depressurization Exclusive Interview with THE GREAT BINGO REVIVAL
Last year, on a flight from Las Vegas to Orlando, Tahoe local Rusty Reams packed a very specific carry on bag, secured seat 1A, and waited for the right moment to engage the flight attendants in, what else, but collaborating the entire plane into a game of bingo?
“These unicorn slippers that we have, they’re the number one prize, everyone loves them,” Reams said. “Seven year olds, guys, girls, everyone. So I had the flight attendants hand out the bingo cards and I was going to call one game of bingo because that was all we were going to need.”
If 30,000 feet at cruising altitude sounds like a strange place to hold a bingo game, most people would probably agree. But maybe not Reams. The 30-something Tahoe skier has called bingo games at major festivals, children’s birthday parties, elementary school fundraisers, for clients like YouTube and Google, and, notably, in deep playa at That Thing in the Desert. For Reams, this ain’t your grandma’s bingo, but hell, he does encourage you to bring your grandma, because his message is clear: bingo is for everyone.
The Great Bingo Revival is part bingo game, part 70’s dance party, part comedy, and thrives on the best part of a bingo game: you, the audience.
“It’s outdated, it’s been miscategorized, but it has a structure that everyone is familiar with,” Reams said.
Reams’s idea began on his birthday one night at a bar in Eugene, at a place that was known for it’s hip bingo games. After the whole bar ended up singing him happy birthday, he won the game, and returned to Tahoe in 2012 with the idea of bringing these updated versions of a familiar game to the Tahoe area, Eventually he found himself at the annual Dirtybird Campout, an opportunity he knew he had to nail. After the first night of gigs bombed out—“no one showed up. My DJ and my dancer go too drunk. I can now see why Axel Rose would storm off a stage”—the second night was a home run when the whole festival rushed the bingo tent on the last night of the campout.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Reams said, “because I know never to stop a party. So we just played bingo until dawn.”
Fast forward to now and The Great Bingo Revival is crushing all across the West Coast, making regular appearances at festivals and the burn, and being welcomed back for a third showing at The Great Depressurization. The interactive game is not without prizes, and Reams values prizes that can be used right then and there the most—a hover board, roller skates, unicorn onesies—universal things that bring a smile to everyone’s face. And he seems like he was born to do this as a manner of bringing people together from all walks of life to engage in this raucous game of bingo.
“Here I am, captain bingo of the world, and people end up telling me these really intimate stories about how they remember playing bingo with their grandmother, or, ‘oh, hey, I used to hand out cards and my grandpa would call bingo when I was a kid.’ It’s wild.”
And that’s the heart of Ream’s Great Bingo Revival—it’s for everyone. Bring your party people and your grandma, because it’s universal no matter where you are and only gaining more traction as he continues to crush.
“Bingo is played the same in Mexico, France, Italy…you know what the Italian word for Bingo is? B-I-N-G-O!”
The Great Bingo Revival performs at The Sands Regency bingo hall late night on Tuesday, September 3rd. For room reservations and information, visit www.GreatDepressurization.com