Illustration by James the Stanton

The Variety Show Where a Low Score Makes for a High Time

‘The Bong Show’ is just like ‘The Gong Show,’ except there is more burlesque, performers in drag, and no gong.

It’s universally known that prefunking and weed go hand in hand. This Halloween weekend, the good folks at The In Arts Northwest have got you covered. Taking their cues from The Gong Show, a classic variety show from the ’70s, The Bong Show is jam-packed full of campy, crazy, chronic performances. Hosted by local drag celebrity Tony James, along with Rebecca Wirtel as Jack DemOff, The Bong Show is a wild, raucous, weed-laden spectacle that allows you to get high while watching live theater.

To make it possible, attendees must bring their own weed and be over 21 (don’t do drugs, kids). “We looked up the laws,” James explains as he walks me through the art-lined halls of The In, an artists’ collective at the top of Capitol Hill. “As long as we don’t charge to get in or provide any pot, we are totally legal, because this is our home.” James dreamed up the show one night while getting high with his boyfriend. His aim was to create an event that featured all of the amazing art forms that one might experience at The In. “We’ve had drag shows, burlesque, theater, bands, DJ’s … that many of the people involved are also avid smokers made including weed an obvious choice.”

In the original television show, acts got onstage and did their thing in front of a live audience that would cheer or jeer the performers depending on the quality of their performance. Judges would let the acts go for a while, but if the crowd got rowdy enough, one would bang a gong and the act would be dragged offstage. At The Bong Show, instead of hitting a gong, the judges hit a bong if the acts are terrible. The audience is encouraged to partake as well.

“Sometimes I forget how the rules work and I just hit the bong because I want to get high,” says Sacajaweeda, the easygoing hippy judge played by Krystal Fay, a member of the Choctaw Nation who can can also be seen in the Seattle-based, fem-centric YouTube series Sheattle. “I just want everyone to have a good time, so I usually give everyone lots of love or whatever.” Co-judging with Sacajaweeda are Damion DeHoet as Dead Michael Jackson, Amanda Lanning as The Ghost of Amy Winehouse, and Michael Craft as The Devil. “I us Performers include acts like “The Unhung Comic,” “Pizzarina Sbarro,” “The Mayberry Tramp,” and burlesque star Gams Galore as “Queen Queen the Dancing Machine.”

Gauging by these names, you may have picked up that this show is not for the easily offended. “This whole year has been so crazy … I really wanted a way to roll all that chaos into one big stoned shit-show,” says James, whose alter ego, Gaydolf Hitler, struts around in hot-pink swastika pasties.

Attendees are heavily encouraged to BYOB (Bring Your Own Buds), come in costume, get rude, and get nice and high as a prefunk to later Halloween activities. Full disclosure: The Bong Show will be filming this night, so you might want to lie low if you don’t want to be seen, and wear a mask if you’re at risk of being tested at your job. The In Arts NW, 1633 17th Ave. Free. 21 and over. 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 29.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

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