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Fun and 'Gay'mes in Atlantic City with Suzanne Westenhoefer

Fun and 'Gay'mes in Atlantic City with Suzanne Westenhoefer

There I’ve packed a cooler with medicinal beverages—I take one and down it quickly. Feeling better, I jump into the passenger seat of the car and grin at my exasperated girlfriend. I’m officially ready to begin my Fun and “Gay”mes weekend at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

When I get excited or anxious I check things. I’m absolutely sure my camera is in my bag, but I have to open the back of the car to check one more time. There I’ve packed a cooler with medicinal beverages—I take one and down it quickly. Feeling better, I jump into the passenger seat of the car and grin at my exasperated girlfriend. I’m officially ready to begin my Fun and “Gay”mes weekend at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

An hour and a half later we are checked into the hotel and step into one of a legion of elevators. This place is huge. We’re supposed to find the 83rd floor of the Chairman Tower. Thank goodness I brought the cooler just in case we get lost. As soon as I walk through the door of our suite I feel like a high roller. There’s a huge window overlooking the beach and the Atlantic Ocean and I get a little dizzy looking down. Excitement and dizziness will continue to be the theme of the weekend.

First stop is an LGBT Happy Hour at a cozy spot called Trattoria Il Mulino. My girlfriend and I are meeting friends there and are greeted by representatives from the Trump staff wishing us luck, fun, and a free bar tab all evening. At this point I feel like I’m on a cruise ship. Theme restaurants, the ocean out the window and me rocking back and forth really set the mood. This is one of many Fun and “Gay”mes weekends to come and the Taj wants us to enjoy our stay and is determined to make Atlantic City a gay destination spot.

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After enjoying Italian antipasto and drinks we need to find Suzanne Westenhoefer’s show. How hard can it be? It’s just one cruise ship--I mean casino. Oh, and bathrooms, we need to find bathrooms. What I realize is that there are no straight lines in a casino. Which is good, because by that time I probably couldn’t walk one. The casino wants you to cut through the slots and gaming tables and maybe stop to see if lady luck is there waiting for you. I’m sure from above we looked like lobodomized rats finding their way through a maze. I especially, was drawn to the blinking lights and bright shiny objects. “Come on!” my girlfriend kept pleading. “We can’t miss the show. You’re supposed to be writing about all this.”

We walked into a theater with table upon table of lesbians. Of course there were the gay guys there, and a sprinkling of straight couples. Suzanne says she likes the gay guys down in front, and she even spied a straight guy who said his wife was out playing slots and he wanted be there at the show. So there you have it. Suzanne caters to all. After she brought down the house, we were waiting for the crowd to thin out and one of the gay--yes, gay!--Trump reps asked if we wanted to go meet Suzanne in person. Now I know you’re thinking I write for SheWired and this was all set up, but it wasn’t. I would love to say hi to her after I did the interview, but it wasn’t a done deal. She being a star and all…

The four of us jumped out of our seats and headed for a door stage left. That door took us to a hallway and to an elevator. That elevator took us to Suzanne’s dressing room. Along the way we met Louise. Louise introduced herself to me as a heterosexual man then turned to my friends and said she was a lesbian and her wife was butch. She seemed like the perfect person to saunter into the green room with.

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Suzanne is quite the after-show hostess. She worked the room posing for photographs, offering snacks and drinks, and received gifts of Patron tequila from ardent admirers. I tried to stay cool while my friends used her bathroom.

Finally it was time to leave and we went back the way we came…and the stage door was locked. It seemed so easy getting down here, but we wandered from hallway to hallway and up and down the elevator. We were really lost. I started thinking about those mob movies where they count the money behind closed doors and was getting a little scared. We turned another corner and ended up in a giant room with a woman doing mountains of laundry. “Can you help us out of here? We need to get back to the casino floor.” She looked at us like we were crazy and she was probably right to have us repeat the question. “Down the hall through those doors. You’ll be alright.” She could see the fear and booze in my eyes.

“What time is it?” I wondered. Everybody knows there are no clocks in a casino. We had hung out with Suzanne and got lost in the bowels of the Taj and had missed The Angels Show! I was crestfallen. Here’s why:

What better thing to do than to cry myself to sleep. But not before soaking up some of the poison at a late night eatery called Plate. None of us remember what we had. It was crazy. We were in a place that never sleeps, eating at all hours of the night, after partying since 4pm (if you don’t count my “road soda”). We called it a night and wandered off to bed.

Morning came early the next day, and that ocean view was way too bright. Three Advil and a “medicinal drink” later and I was ready to go. There was a spa and pool on the 14th floor and I swam a mile and was ready to begin the day. Ha! I sat with my head in my hands until I ate breakfast and then I felt better. I’ll have to wait for my next trip to check out the pool and workout facilities.

The Trump Taj had more fun in store for the weekend though. It was off to Red Ribbon Bingo run entirely by drag queens dressed in Easter finery. Suzanne was also slated to make an appearance as a guest caller for the event. The New Jersey Gaming Commission officially states that no alcohol may be served at the bingo, but if you wanted to step outside though…

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Bingo callers Sandy Beach and Mortimer had a “ginger ale” and a very frothy “root beer” ready all the time. What was supposed to be a two hour set of games (with cash prizes, I might add) turned into three hour drag show extravaganza punctuated by someone yelling bingo every once in a while.

The party wasn’t backstage after that train wreck. It was at a T dance held in the Casbah lounge. The “girls” came up in their Easter bonnets and this woman invited me personally, to join her.

She didn’t tell me her name, but immediately climbed up to a dance floor where I could slip her dollar bills through the glass. There was a go-go guy there also, but I didn’t give him any money.

And speaking of money I didn’t get a chance to gamble! I was so busy enjoying all the parties and events they had I didn’t fulfill my lifelong dream of winning big playing craps. It’s OK though. The Fun and “Gay”mes weekends will continue next month. Theme for the Gay Bingo is 70s disco. Weekend is April 25th. Come join me and maybe we can get the go-go dancer to tell us her name.

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Helen Wortham