Question: How many strippers do you know? By name, and with enough familiarity to say hello to them on the street? I would venture to guess that well over 90 percent of you said, "zero." And while it's not a competition--I win. Because I know Theresa, Mona, Ginger, Kathy, Sapphire (at least that's what she calls herself), Steve, Shepard, Tarzan (at least that's what he calls himself), Renee, M. J., Nicolle, and "Quarter-Inch" (more on her later). And the reason I know so many strippers is not because I'm a pimp or a strip-club perv. I know a lot of strippers because I live in Portland, Oregon, and in Portland, Oregon, you can't swing a pair of pumps without striking a working member of the exotic arts.


Let's face facts. Seattle sucks when it comes to strip joints because of two basic and highly hypocritical rules: (1) You cannot enjoy alcohol while watching strippers, and (2) dancers are required to keep their underpants on. However, it ain't like that in Portland! First of all, strip clubs in P-town are essentially fully loaded liquor bars which just happen to have the value-added feature of a naked person swinging around on a pole. And because many of these establishments are liquor bars first, and nudie joints second, the clientele tends to be far less creepy. Married couples are joined by lesbians, who are joined by working-class drunks, who are joined by party-time fun gals--and then there's the occasional leering perv.

Secondly, Portland strippers take their underpants off. I don't think I need to explain why this is a far superior concept.

Okay, maybe I do.

Taking off underpants is a far superior concept in the same way that Sammy Davis Jr. singing "Mr. Bojangles" in concert is a far superior concept. Wouldn't you feel somehow cheated if Sammy were to sing "Candy Man," "I've Got to Be Me," and then stopped short of "Mr. Bojangles"? Another way that "taking off underpants" is a far superior concept to "not taking off underpants" is revealed in the male strip clubs. While a stacked hunk of beef wearing a g-string is unarguably pleasurable, the level of wonder and hilarity triples when his wiener is suddenly flopping around. Therefore, taking off underpants is a far superior concept.


Why is Portland so great, and why does Seattle have a crowbar wedged in its ass? The reason why Portland is so great and does not have a crowbar wedged in its ass is because it is CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED TO BE THAT WAY. If the city fathers were left to their own devices, every glorious strip club in Portland (and they are legion) would be razed and replaced with Pottery Barns. Happily their hands are tied by the Oregon State Constitution, whose "freedom of speech" clause surpasses the national standard, and basically is fundamentalist-Christian proof. There have been many instances of holier-than-thou teetotalers who have tried deviously clever measures to separate booze from strippers and strip clubs from neighborhoods--but thanks to the forward-thinking horndogs who drafted Oregon's constitution, all these attempts have failed.

And that is why Portland, Oregon has the largest concentration of booze-swilling totally nude strip clubs IN AMERICA. Though the Chamber of Commerce doesn't exactly trumpet this fact, it is definitely a boon to tourism. Portland may not have the Space Needle, but whenever friends visit, I know exactly where to take them. And that's because they're BEGGING me to take them to saucy, sassy strip clubs!

You probably want me to take you to strip clubs, too, don't you? Well, I'm sorry. I don't have time. However, I am more than happy to offer my top strip-club suggestions for those planning a visit to the nudiest city in the USA.


Mary's Club (129 S.W. Broadway)--The grand old dame of Portland strip joints: comfortable and absolutely ADORABLE. An incredibly mixed crowd populates this shoebox-shaped bar and pool room, which recently included celebs Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones. With no obnoxious DJs in sight, chatty friendly strippers use tips to pick out their own songs from an onstage jukebox--anything from Slayer to 1920s French jazz. Plus if hunger strikes, Mary's back entrance connects to one of the best Mexican-food establishments in town.

Magic Garden (217 N.W. Fourth)--A stone's throw away from Mary's, this venerable establishment is more low key, specializing in beautiful women of the tattooed variety. Drinks are stiff, and it's the home of my favorite stripper in Portland, whom I like to call "Quarter-Inch" (I told you we'd get back to her). "Quarter-Inch" is a dead ringer for Elizabeth Hurley and the reason she's called "Quarter-Inch" is because she moves... only... a quarter-inch... at... a... time. By the time she's crossed the stage and arrived in front of you, you've already emptied your wallet and signed over the deed to your house.

Acropolis (8325 S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard)--If one is interested in strippers that are more... ahem... "surgically enhanced," try the Acropolis, which has five stages going simultaneously, daily steak specials, and a salad bar with a sneeze guard. I don't know--for some reason that cracks me up.

Three Sisters Tavern (1125 S.W. Stark)--Perhaps the funnest place in all the world. This all-male, all-NUDE club features wiener-wiggling excitement for both guys and gals. Big frosty mugs of brew-ha-ha accentuate the 1950s stag-party feel, especially when the fellers trot on stage in a vast array of hilarious costumes: cowboy, cop, and the ever-popular UPS guy (all with tear-away trousers). These nudie cuties were born to entertain, and prove it by leaping from stage to tabletop, hanging naked upside down (by the tops of their FEET!!), and if you're extremely lucky, gingerly lifting a dollar bill off your forehead with their ass cheeks. Now that's talent!


By this point you're probably feeling like you're missing out on a lot of fun. Well, you are. And I would normally try to soothe you with some reason why you're better off where you are. But I can't think of any reason. So I won't bother. You could try maybe putting together an initiative to bring liquor back into the strip clubs where it belongs, but frankly, people's hands are beginning to cramp just from signing the shit that Tim Eyman squirts out on a daily basis.

No, all you can do is visit Portland semi-regularly, and shake your head in disgust at the idiocy governments are capable of achieving. Nudity and alcohol are so indelibly entwined that it seems like only the most grotesque of monsters would ever try to separate them. And yet, apparently--we live in a world of monsters. Just be thankful there are still some pockets of goodness left in the world, where a butt-nekkid man and his waggling wiener has to step over a cool frosty mug of suds.