The Matrons of Mayhem pose for a photo together.

Bold & Beautiful: The Matrons of Mayhem

Bold & Beautiful

The Matrons of Mayhem are an amazing drag troupe who have dedicated themselves to raising money for charity via drag bingo events. This group of absolutely chaotic and wonderful queens was created 17 years ago by Ruby Ridge (also known as Don Steward outside of drag) and first went by the name “Cyber Sluts.” “They went through a few iterations and did bingo at different spots around town just to raise money for small charities,” Terry (The Mule) Gillman, current Matrons of Mayhem Producer, recalls. “Somebody took off with the money about nine or ten years ago … so that’s when it changed to ‘Matrons of Mayhem’ because they had to completely rebrand [since] there was a reputation issue.”

Following the rebrand, Petunia Pap Smear, also known as Courtney Moser, took the reins and began running the official Matrons of Mayhem. The Matrons have been hosted by the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City for 11 years and were run by Moser until they chose to retire last year, entrusting Gillman and artistic director Buddy Eyre (aka Contasia VonClappe) in charge.

“We have queens this is the only time they are queens, and we have queens that are professional drag queens.”

A drag queen in a giant white wig and long flowey dress stands in front of a bingo caller, she holds a microphone.
The Matrons support local charities through bingo events and providing concession opportunities. Photo: Bonneville Jones.

The Matrons also give lots of room to various charities to run the concessions during bingo events. “We’ve always had some group that needed money off the concessions to run that, so we’ve just kind of opened up the kitchen. ‘Serve nachos and pretzels, we don’t care! Just keep our people fed!’” says Gillman.

The Matrons of Mayhem’s primary mission is to service small charities and support local organizations. Some of the more notable charities the Matrons have worked with include the local chapter of the American Cancer Society and Camp Hope, a summer camp for children with cancer.

They generally do not work with large charities and work with Camp Hope each year, but are open to adding more partnerships. “We always try to pull in at least two or three fresh ones just so we can have some new experiences,” Gillman says. They tend to bring back charities with whom they have had successful events with.

Every dollar earned by the Matrons of Mayhem goes straight back to the charities they collaborate with, and any money that goes into their events comes straight from Gillman and Eyre’s own pockets. The Matrons of Mayhem are not out to be competitive; they do it all for the love of the community. Due to being volunteer-based queens, they’re allowed to be extremely expressive while still keeping performances family-friendly.

The cost of bingo participation isn’t the only unique way the Matrons raise funds—for $50, you can have your friends dress up for the last half of the show in full drag. The queens also do what’s known as “party fouls,” which they choose randomly—whether it be not sharing food, hoarding too many bingo cards or even putting your elbows on the table. You’re then required to wear hats, boas, etc. as punishment. In terms of what inspires the Matrons’ drag aesthetic, “it’s mostly based on the individual, but we aim for more of a camp style,” Eyre says.

A drag queen imitating Lucille Ball laughs off to the side of the camera. She has a red glittery beard.
Contasia VonClappe’s looks are one of the many wonderful parts of the Matrons’ events. Photo: Bonneville Jones.

When asked what keeps the Matrons running, Gillman says, “Altruism and how positive things have to be … how selfless you have to be.” He also remarked how fun it all is and explained how being the baton holder or, “in a cabaret sense, the MC,” allows the queens to have the freedom to have a good time with lots of laughs. “The queens love it because the charity is phenomenal. We pick different charities every year. We have fun with the artistic side. It’s getting out and doing something different. We have queens this is the only time they are queens, and we have queens that are professional drag queens,” Eyre expresses.

“The queens love it because the charity is phenomenal. We pick different charities every year. We have fun with the artistic side.”

If you want to support the Matrons and get involved in drag bingo for charity, stay in the loop by following the Matrons of Mayhem on Instagram at @matronsofmayhem or by visiting their Facebook page.

Read more from the LGBTQ+ Pride issue:
Friends Allies and Mentors: Creating LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools
Inclusivity at its Core: What’s in Store for SLC Pride