Fifty to 100 people walk into the doors of Totem Books daily. Most of the thousands of bookstore visitors who have entered the cultural oasis since it opened three years ago in November have returned, says manager Tyler Bailey.
“Inventory-wise we stock and store everything from Flint authors to fairy tales, to Faulkner,” Bailey says.
Beyond being a book store, the location is known as a welcoming, entertaining café. Tea Talks are part of a monthly discussion group to talk about issues in the witch and pagan community. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 18, the group talks about “magical protection,: grounding and shielding in their third tea talk at Totem Books.
“Tea Talks are open to anyone who considers themselves part of the witch and pagan community,” says Davonna Wallace, founder and CEO of Witches Tea Flint, who helped start the Tea Talks at Totem. “If people are curious about us, they are also welcome to stop in.”
At 8 p.m. April 20, book store patrons can be entertained by Drag Queen Bingo. In March, the drag queens event brought 100 people to the bookstore.
“The drag queens really want to make people laugh,” Bailey says. “They want to make people smile. They want to ‘wow’ them.”
Three door prizes and Bingo prizes are given away at each Drag Queen Bingo event.
“I do a game at the beginning to see who my audience is,” said Joseph “Cord” McCoy, who also goes by the name “Madeline Sharp,” Totem’s resident queen.
“Most of the audience members have never been to any type of event like this before. I feel like it’s good not only to expose the public to what Drag Queen Bingo actually is and show it for the art form that it actually is, to clear up a lot of confusion, but it also brings an art and entertainment that our city doesn’t have much of. It gives it to them in a way they can appreciate and have fun with.”
The show is for ages 18 and over.
“You can leave all your worries behind and have some good, ole raunchy fun with us,” McCoy says. “We’re men in wigs moving our lips to other people’s music, but it’s still an art form.”
Perry Dox, another local drag queen, will also be featured.
At 8 p.m. April 26, guests can laugh themselves to tears during a live comedy show, featuring Kyle Forsyth with headliner Tom E. Thompson. Forsyth is co-founder of the Motor City Comedy Festival in Detroit, a stand-up-centered nonprofit with the primary performance being a weekend of comedy shows that showcase the strength of comedic timing.
“People can expect a high-energy, fun show,” says Thompson, who has headlined at the Holly Hotel Comedy Club. “I like to make a connection with the audience through honest recollections of my life experiences. I like to break the fourth wall and try to make the show a unique experience for everyone involved. I am looking forward to performing at Totem Books because it’s such a cool place.
“It has a fun vibe. There’s something for everyone: books, vinyl records and food. I’m addicted to all three!”
Frank Preketes has been visiting Totem about once a week since the bookstore opened three years ago. Preketes says the staff does a good job organizing the Drag Queen Bingo and the comedy nights, both of which he has attended. He likes the ambiance and the eclectic menu at Totem. He also likes the fact the art in Totem is multicultural.
“You see the young,” he says, “you see the old. You see different races. People come with service dogs. There is diversity in the food and the books.”
Steve Hartman has been visiting Totem about twice a week for one to two years. He likes the murals and the fact that the staff features works of art from local artists on its back wall during the Greater Flint Arts Council’s second Friday monthly area art walk.
“There’s no place like Totem Books,” he says.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Totem Books visit their website at http://totembooksflint.com