|Written by AnDroid|
|Thursday, 20 August 2009 13:13|
The first time I walked into the Silverado, timid and alone, my unkempt hair flowing halfway down my back, I was wearing an oversized Nirvana t-shirt and ripped jeans, and I stood out like a sore thumb. I was barely old enough to be in there. The feeding frenzy that ensued was something straight out of Shark Week. Men were literally fighting each other to buy me drinks. Everyone was dying to get a piece of this scared-looking young newcomer, and many of them did get a piece. If I had a soul before, I believe it got lost somewhere in the mix that night. Oh well. On one of my early visits to the Silverado I met Chicken Lady, although back then I didn't know him by that name. He introduced himself as Greg, and his hand slid directly up the hole in my jeans, through the leg of my boxer shorts and wrapped around my tiny, shriveled, flaccid penis. My eyes went wide. I stared straight ahead, took a sip from my Black Butte, and said, “Uhhh . . . Uhhhhhhhh . . .” Greg turned to order me another beer from the muscular server who was passing by with a tray of drinks wearing only his briefs and sneakers. The guy sitting next to me who had previously been buying me beers leaned over and said, “Was he just feeling you up? That perv is the daytime bar manager. Do you see that camera up there? I bet he'll watch that tape later while he jerks off.”
Back then the Silverado was on SW 12th and Stark and was part of a stretch of notoriously depraved gay bars known informally as “Vaseline Alley,” which at the time included the Red Cap, Boxxes, Scandals, Three Sisters, and the Eagle, as well as a wonderfully seedy 24-hour gay bathhouse called Club Portland. I used to love walking down Stark Street at 2:30am while drag queens with smeared makeup and gay boys in tight shirts and leering old men poured onto the sidewalks, desperately trying to hook up at the last minute or find an after party or score a ride home in exchange for a blowjob. It was just the time and place to find whatever kind of trouble you were looking for.
These days only a handful of gay bars are left on Stark Street, making it more of a gay outpost. The Men's Wellness Center moved in, perhaps a bit late, but it's nonetheless a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The building that housed the Silverado and Club Portland got bought out, the bathhouse closed and the Silverado moved to its present, much larger but distant space on 3rd Street. Three Sisters is long gone, and now the Eagle is dead. Scandals is now much too classy to be considered scandalous. Vaseline Alley is a thing of the past.
For a while I was wondering if Old Town/Chinatown was going to be the new hub for the downtown gay scene. Casey's moved into the space on 6th and Couch and the Eagle moved into the basement, bridging the gap between the Shanghai Steakery and Ember's on Broadway and C.C. Slaughter's, Darcelle XV, Hobo's, Fox and Hounds, and the Dirty Duck in Old Town. Then the Shanghai closed down, the Eagle went under, and now the Dirty Duck will be shutting down after this Sunday. Still, Old Town/Chinatown is the most centralized and diverse group of gay clubs downtown, scattered between a few extremely straight clubs like Dirty and the Dixie.
So what does this mean for your night of downtown gay club hopping? Well, it means you're going to be doing a little more walking. I suggest starting with the Stark Street cluster and drinking your way towards either Silverado or Embers and then on to C.C. Slaughter's, which is personally my favorite gay club in Portland (I love you, Bolivia Carmichaels!). Most likely if you live in Portland and are into the scene, you'll end up picking a few favorites and hitting them on a regular basis.
For my part, I'll be adding gay clubs to our Adult Business Directory this week. I'll also probably be hanging out at the Dirty Duck one of these nights to say goodbye. Everyone's gonna be there. Maybe Leather Tom or Chicken Lady will buy me a beer.