Update 2013: Rooster's has changed ownership and reopened as Jag's Clubhouse.
Entering the club, the floor was bare cement and littered with peanut shells. Stacks of bar supplies lined the wall. There were monitors displaying live feeds from the parking lot to make sure no one's fucking with your bike. A grizzled, bearded man sat at the end of the bar, petting a small dog curled up in a little doggy bed. Another dog circled his feet, wagging its tail. The man greeted us as we walked up to the bar, immediately identifying us as first-timers.
Last Friday, Vera Mysteria and I went out in search of a strip club in North Portland that was rumored to be wild and generally hardcore. Rooster's is in a two-story house painted red to look like a barn. On the side of the building there's a large painting of a leather-clad rooster riding a chopper and brandishing a large gun, and if you look closely you'll notice there's a bullet shooting out of the gun. Well that's just badass. The parking lot is pretty small, only really fit for motorcycles. Vera parked on the street. There was a light rain as we approached the building, and a couple guys were puffing on cigarettes under the covered smoking area outside.
“What brings you out here?” he asked. “How'd you hear about us?”
“Word of mouth,” Vera said.
“Word of mouth?” the man chuckled, and he turned to the woman behind the bar. “Did you hear that? She says they heard about this place through word of mouth!”
The man introduced himself as Odell, the bar's owner. The bartender was his wife. I asked him how long this place had been around, and he said his dad had owned it way back when it was a brothel. He pointed out the spot where there used to be a ladder in the corner so patrons could take the prostitutes upstairs. These days Odell and his wife live up there, although she'd like to move.
Vera asked for a vodka cran, but they only serve beer and wine at Rooster's, so we both ordered beers. On the bar there was a glass case with cigars in it and a sign with “ODELL'S CIGARS” scrawled on it. "DO NOT TOUCH." Apparently those ain't for sale.
A tall, skinny woman came up and started talking to us as we were ordering. She was a stripper, she said, and it was her second day here. She asked me if I was a perfume salesman, which I thought was weird.
“Those fucking perfume salesmen!” Odell grumbled. “Had to kick 'em all out. They kept comin' in here, trying to sell their damned perfume to all the strippers.”
Vera got herself some peanuts from the metal trash can next to the stage, and I took a seat at the rail while the woman started dancing. She definitely wasn't running short on perfume. “Is your girlfriend gonna get pissed off if I dance for you?” the woman asked, and Vera shouted, “We're not together!”
As she danced, the woman told me she was single and didn't have any kids. She said she hadn't had very many boyfriends because no one wanted to date a stripper. She complained about how she didn't have a valentine to spend Valentine's Day with. Then she said the same stuff to the other guy sitting at the rail. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like when you're at work stripping for cash, that might not be the best time to look for romance. But hell, what do I know?
We'd gone to Rooster's expecting to see a rough scene and possibly a fist fight, but we ended up finding one of the friendliest strip clubs in town. Sure, it's a dive, but it's a cozy one at that, and it's got a hell of a lot of character. Next time I'll bring a posse, some dog treats, and a cigar for Odell.