Want to make bowling even more fun? Throw in some drag queens and do it all for charity.

Oct 20, 2004 at 4:00 am
If ever there was a time when America needed bowling, that time is now. With a bitterly contested election raging nationwide, a looming winter and no new Simpsons for another two weeks, spirits are down. Getting a smile out of co-workers is tougher than picking up that 7-10 split when your hook won't hook; even the office beer tastes a little flat in the bleak light of these daunting odds.

But all those cares fade away at the bowling alley. Perhaps there's something mystical about the smell of wax and nachos, but the healing power of a night spent keggling with friends and family cannot be overstated. Everything in the alley is designed to foster a sense of democratic risk and reward: From the triangular set of the pins (all sides are equal in the triangle) to the communal shoes to the second chance inherent in the spare, the geometry of bowling is designed to reassure you that all is fair and right in the world. You stand at the line and take your best shot, and whether you clean your plate or fail miserably, your ball always returns to you, truer than any dog.

So it's no wonder that the AIDS Foundation of St. Louis would choose a bowling alley as the site for its fundraiser, Drag Bowl III. But the foundation has added a little sparkle to the functional comfort of bowling -- in the form of drag queens. Every team of bowlers is assigned a drag queen, who aids the team in rounds of "crazy bowl" (you know, bowl backwards/eyes closed/after spinning around/etc.) and then performs a suitably vampy and entertaining routine on the lane. Better still, Becky Rothman, a.k.a. the Queen of Carpets, is the official host, so the whole evening should have a suitably royal air -- but in those shoes, she'll be no better than anyone else.