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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

SEX Savage Love Asks Portland

Posted by Amy J. Ruiz on Tue, Jan 29 at 3:26 PM

Dan Savage forwarded this our way, to see if we can help this letter writer—who’s moving to Portland, and has a question about our strip clubs.

Hello, Dan!

I love the column and the podcast. You’re doing good work.

My boyfriend has a good deal of strip club experience and recently, at my request, took me to my first one as a birthday present. I had been merely curious, but was totally unprepared for how fucking sexy it would be to watch him get a lap dance. Holy cow. We had a great night, the ladies were extremely nice and chatty, we tipped well and drank a lot of ginger ale and I left with soaking wet panties and mauled my bf the instant we got home. This is something I very much enjoyed and would like us to do with some regularity. My boyfriend is familiar with the clubs in our current city and will only go to the ones where he feels that the dancers are respectfully treated by both the staff and the customers. However, we are moving this summer to another major city that has many strip clubs and I have heard that women who have been trafficked are sometimes forced to dance in clubs to drum up business for the prostitution side of the operation and neither my boyfriend or I would want to patronize clubs where the women are badly treated. My question is then, how can you tell from the outside that a strip club is an OK place for the women on the inside?

Many thanks for your help!
Hot To Watch

Any advice for HTW? I’ve only been to Devil’s Point, Mary’s, Magic Gardens, and Acropolis, and didn’t see any gals that struck me as hostages. But tell tell if there are clubs with a “prostitution side of the operation.”


I've left a message with the vice squad and hopefully, they'll be able to give me some insights into this side of the business.

I've always felt that strip clubs that have exterior paint jobs in either hot pink or bright purple have something to hide. I'm thinking of you, Tops N' Tails on NE Cully!

yeah Matt, like working at the Sugar Shack for two years isn't enough to afford you a little insight into the profession.

Please, go call your insiders.

Yes, great question! I, too, insist on patronizing only the most upstanding strip clubs. Dan, can you also tell us which strip clubs only serve organic steaks and locally made beer and only play music performed by bands that donate to charity, and where the strippers donate a portion of their tips to help the disadvantaged? These clubs must also donate to planned parenthood and use solar electricity and install bioswales in front of the building, and give out free transit passes. Any ideas? I'm just dying to get out there and watch my husband get a lap dance.

That actually sounds like an ideal venture for a Portland entrepreneur.

Rumor has it that the new club out on NW Nicolai, Casa Diablo, serves Vegan food and donates a portion of proceeds to animal charities. Rumor has it...

I don't work there. Just sayin'.

While I don't doubt this happens in some places, and have heard anecdotes about vans filled with Eastern European dancers pulling up to clubs in New Jersey, I haven't seen any evidence of women being forced to work against their will in Portland strip clubs. All the strippers here are cage-free (we're only trapped in the cold, hard, cage of the patriarchy, Portland IndyMedia!) and working by choice.

How to tell from the outside? That's tough, though I think Martin's off to a good start. There are a couple of customer strip club review sites, tuscl.com and stripclublist.com, that might be helpful to Dan's concerned reader.

And to think that I moved to Portland, Oregon, to get away from a mentally unhinged stripper who was prostituting herself on the side. Then, I chose to work in an industry that is more or less joined at the hip to the strip club/prostitution industry here...

The strippers of this town aren't all doing "side work," as they call it, but a huge percentage of them are. Enough that I hardly bat an eye anymore when I drive the johns from the clubs to their hotel or whatever, and then later on some dancer to that same hotel, if she isn't too drunk or high to remember which one.

It's the ridiculous face-saving ritual they both go through that puts me off more than anything. A while back, one john met his dancer of choice in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box next to a certain club, in my car, and then they lamely tried to pretend that they were old friends or something. As if it wasn't completely obvious what was up.

It was really embarrassing, yet quite dull and plebian all at once. Maybe when I'm old and gray I'll look back fondly on such heartwarming occasions.

As for the sleazier clubs, well, the aforementioned Sugar Shack strip-mall-of-hookerdom is pretty interesting, all right. Then there is the Pop-A-Top on Columbia, where you can watch pregnant chicks with track marks strut around before heading to the "OH Zone" out back, where they model lingerie. Roosters, also on Columbia, seems to be built into a decrepit junkyard. Then there was Shag Nasty's in St Johns, but they are gone now...

Dino's on Hawthorne was one of the gnarliest of them all, but now it's all hip, just like the rest of this town...it's once hallowed sleaziness has nearly been completely steam cleaned away.

My personal opinion is that the Police are either in on the money, or get blowjobs on Tuesdays or something, in order for our little burg's precious "Industry" to blatantly operate the way it does. That, or the way things are set up tends to bring the prostitution off of the street, which in turn leads to less complaints from the public.

In another generation or so, hopefully we will just have legalized brothels like in Nevada, with better working conditions for the whores, like going though regular health inspections and so forth. The State would, of course, take a big cut right off of the top. At least, if we are sane, we will start heading in that direction...it's like drugs or booze or any other kind of vice, you'll never totally stamp it out.

"Cabbie" is clearly an idiot. Not welcome in 2008: cabbies who think they're gritty and profound because a certain other weekly gives them a venue to vent their "insight".

I don't understand the things that randomly come into fashion. Strip clubs are cool. People who go to strip clubs are cool. Yawwn. Anyway, why the hell would Dan Savage know anything about the particulars of Portland's strip clubs? Why don't you ask one of those sex worker advocate groups or trade organizations or whatever they are, like Danzine. God, humanity makes me sick.

Can you tell from the outside: no.
How do you find out: go inside.
If all else fails: Ask one of the girls how it is.

Different cabbie, N.A.C. There are about 5 or 6 hundred of us. I hear he's a Reedie, as well as a vegan teetotaller, 3 things I'm not. He's also a much better writer than I, much more economical. Yours truly happens to think he's gritty due to nearly a decade in a profession roughly three times as dangerous as that of a Police officer, according to FBI stats.

I still say legalize the whole depressing, tacky thing and give the whores regular STD inspections for the sake of the public's health. It's not legally possible to physically quarantine some of the more far-gone basket cases, unfortunately.

I have heard some fascinating stories about a little club on columbia blvd called tops. yuck.

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