Sissy Bingo Diva

With talent shined and polished in New York, Linda Gerard gets freaky with the tame game



Linda Gerard hosts Sissy Bingo on Monday nights at King’s Highway at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.

ETHAN KAMINSKY

Peering through sunglasses that resemble two pineapples (they’re prescription), Linda Gerard greets and later surprises guests during Sissy Bingo at Ace Hotel & Swim Club’s King’s Highway restaurant in Palm Springs. She adds to her fan base every Monday night, when she picks numbers, breaks into song, and reveals memorable moments from a stage career that included starring in her most beloved Broadway musical on the day Barbra Streisand was unable to perform.

How did you land the role as Barbra Streisand’s standby in Funny Girl?
I auditioned, auditioned, auditioned. Callback, callback, callback. Probably over the course of two months, maybe more. It was really neat, because you rehearse with people like Sydney Chaplin, Kay Medford, and Jean Stapleton — the biggest stars on Broadway at the time. It was really exciting.

Did you imagine yourself in the role?
Opening night 1964, I was at the Winter Garden Theatre and saw Barbra do the show. I saw it with my husband, and I nudged him and said, “Jerry, I will be up on that stage performing that role some day.” He said, “Yeah, right. You’re a girl from Trenton, New Jersey, who sings in nightclubs.” I knew when I saw it that the part [Fannie Brice] was written for me. I had the same accompanist that Barbra and Lainie Kazan had, and he played for me at my audition.

At Sissy Bingo, do you flash back to the Winter Garden?
No, it’s so different. First of all, I’m in a restaurant and there is no spotlight on me. I wear street makeup and street clothes. I look around and I see young and old, fat and thin, gay and straight, and the first thing I sing is “Forget your troubles, come on get happy, you better chase all your cares away.” And people ask, “Is that the woman who sat us for bingo?” Some of them don’t know they’re coming for a musical night. So it’s fun to get them to like me; and toward the end, I will give them a glimpse into who I am. Sometimes at the beginning they ask, “Are you a professional singer?” And I nod my head.

Would you do anything differently?
Yes. Mimi Heinz [who eventually took over the role of Fanny Brice when Streisand left Funny Girl] asked me to go to Las Vegas with her and do the matinees and Sundays. And everybody who did that went on to be a major star. I said no and didn’t become a major star. But, in retrospect, I have a wonderful life and did things that they’ll never do and couldn’t have done. I’ve jumped out of a plane. I became a lesbian. And they ask, “You did what?” I did, I jumped out of a plane at 50.

Ace Hotel and Swim Club
701 E. Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264
760-325-9900
http://www.acehotel.com/palmsprings

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Splash House Adds Acts to August Lineup

After its first sell-out event in June, the lineup for Splash House's sequel on Aug. 8-9 has grown with a second phase of lineup additions.

Hyatt Palm Springs Hosts Summer "Silent DJ" Pool Parties

Hyatt Palm Springs kicks off its summer season with a series of lively “Aqua Libre” Saturday evening summer pool gatherings known as “Silent DJ” parties starting June 20.

The Desert's Best

Here are the Readers' Choices for: Best Pizzeria, Best Continental Restaurant, Best Outdoor Dining, and Best Place for Women's Apparel.

The Service is the Show

PS Underground has created culinary experiences in the desert since 2013 — from a picnic at the polo grounds to a full-scale re-creation of the last dinner on the Titanic.

Short Films, Big Festival

Ask a film lover to describe the moment cinema changed his life, and you’re likely to get an enthusiastic response. For Darryl Macdonald, executive director of the Palm Springs International Film Society, that moment came when his parents took him to see Bonnie and Clyde.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.