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Exotic Magazine - Uncovering The Northwest Since 1993

Erotic City

by Ray McMillin

Yes, it’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the holidays, the snow or the fact that my birthday is a week after Christmas (I get the console in December and a game in January). I’m talking about the one day of the year that we can trample complete strangers in hopes of saving six bucks on a TV that’s approximately two inches larger than the one we bought last year. Black mothafuckin’ FRIDAY is here! Celebrate capitalism by waiting in a line for twelve hours, punching an old lady to squeeze in front of her, stomping a few toddlers and grabbing a copy of Grown Ups 2 on 4K HD!!!

Wait...you’re not into that? What’s that? The election is over, violence isn’t the answer and you just want to chill out for the month of November? Fuck. I guess that means you better hit the strip clubs. Naked women—five to six one-dollar bills per song. Line—minimal. Staff members asking to help—none. Boom Boom over Best Buy, any day of the year.

Unsung Heroes Of The Portland Strip Clubs: Security Staff

Last month, I made my rounds and touched base with the downtown-area clubs, just to see what’s good with the skin city nightlife (this is what happens when I finally decide to take my job seriously, so be warned...I may be hitting your club next). There are too many new dancers, talented DJs and kick-ass bartenders to discuss, so I’ll just say to go out and have fun—there is literally too much to fit into one column, from haunted strip clubs to porn star guest appearances.

But, much to my surprise, security guards at the clubs I visited (Kit Kat, Dante’s, Spyce, Union Jack’s...all the greats) all shared a similar sentiment; when I asked them about any as-of-late incidents, surprises or cool stories, each answered with something along the lines of, "Actually, it’s been pretty relaxed inside the club, but we’re getting sick of cleaning up after the city."

As it turns out, the Portland Police Department is mostly there for looks (until you get out into the suburbs, at which point they’re taking down the real villains, like pot-smoking teenagers and cellphone drivers). The majority of a strip club security guard’s time, in downtown Portland, seems to be dedicated to gang fights, aggressive panhandlers and public urination—but, none of this goes down inside the clubs. Kit Kat, Dante’s and Spyce are all located within a few blocks of the blocked-off Chinatown zone dedicated to weekend party kids—if you park your car in this zone, cops show up and tow it (within seconds). On the other hand, if you decide to vomit in the doorway of a club, piss in the ashtray and grab a stripper’s ass, the cops are "too busy" to help.

Please explain where our tax money is going.

For the naked women inside busy downtown clubs, it must, feel weird to tip out a security guard who they haven’t seen all shift, but dancers need to remember that the majority of the door person’s job is to keep the riff-raff out of the club (and, Riff Raff himself, if he shows up). Attending to the commotion outside of the club will keep it from getting in. Security guards don’t seem to enjoy policing the streets any more than they would working as an actual police officer, but they’re also doing it for "minimum wage plus tips" and no benefits. And, the story I heard began to echo after a while: "We ask the cops to do something, but they just say they don’t want to waste the time on (writing a ticket, asking the person to move along, cleaning the dead body out of the gutter so that women in heels can safely pass, etc.), so we do it ourselves."

I’m not trying to bash the homeless population, the drug dealers, the crackheads or anyone else who could kick my ass. We’re good. Please don’t break into my car. But, with that being said, what exactly do downtown police officers do? I’d love to know. In fact, why is it that I feel more safe selling "vegetables" in the hood, than I do ordering a gyro at a downtown food cart? Probably because that food cart is located around the corner from the strip club, far away from the only person who has any interest in preventing a stabbing from happening. Strip club security staff is doing the job of Portland cops, simple as that.

I’d like to suggest, to any security staff (or club owners, managers, etc.) reading this, please evaluate the potential costs (lost work and extra labor) that have arisen from dealing with the fallout of downtown Portland, total it all up and send the city a bill. Police officers are paid with tax revenue, also known as "money that’s supposed to keep our streets safe." If the door guy at Kit Kat is doing more for the safety of downtown than, oh, the cops located in the Chinatown police station, shouldn’t we allocate taxpayer funds toward strip club security guards, instead of Keystone cops?

We express thanks for our friends, family and physical things, but this year, I’m giving all my thanks to the security guards who keep the streets of Portland safe. Here’s a toast to you, in hopes that, one day, you will be able to spend a few minutes inside the club you work at, enjoying the job you signed up for (and not cleaning piss off of an "open" sign). In fact, you’re basically the cops that the city deserves. I’ve never heard of a security guard killing an unarmed black teen. I’ve never been followed by a security guard when leaving a weed dispensary. And, most importantly, I’ve never had a cop offer to walk my DJ gear out to the car after a gig in Chinatown.

California Takes Two Steps Back, One Step Forward

Okay, I’m gonna try my best to not involve politics here. But, in recent months, Cali bruh, Jerry Brown, has signed two laws that made a few folks rightfully unhappy. The first, a bill that will reduce knowingly giving someone HIV (not by accident, but by intent) a misdemeanor. That’s right. Forget to pay child support? Jail. Give someone a life-threatening disease for the lulz? Ticket. The goal was to "reduce stigma" around gay men with HIV (fair), but the implicit assumption is that gay men are heartless murderers, who would intentionally infect a partner (unfair). However, many not-so-nice people (of all orientations, including sexless heroin addicts) are now free to do whatever the voices in their head tells them to. Oops? Besides, last time I checked, gay men are still stigmatized, regardless of HIV status.

So, that’s one strike down for California. The second, was a loophole-filled gender pronoun law—one that was designed to protect the rights of transgender men and women (to be treated, referred to and otherwise addressed as, their presented or identified gender). This law, while excellent in theory (and, in my opinion, a no-brainer...it takes no energy to add an "S" to the word "he," if requested), has since been exploited by trolls, to the extent that biological, presenting-as males are now able to sue their employers if they see fit—thanks to fifteen dollars and a visit to the DMV to register as "she," simply for the chuckle.

You’ve got that correct—within seconds of being validated as humans, the rights of (actual) trans people are being taken advantage of for humor, by internet trolls and the far-right (biological female, Lauren Southern, a Canadian conservative, recently registered as "he" and continues to look/present identical to your average blonde chick from Starbucks). Thank you, California judicial system...you’ve outdone yourselves by being rushed and sloppy—now the trolls are co-opting you like a cartoon frog.

So, with California’s "Great Idea, Poor Execution" model, what can we expect with their latest effort in becoming more progressive than Oregon? Prostitution.

As I type this, courts are cutting red tape that has been preventing California’s prostitution laws from being challenged. Much like the efforts of reducing HIV stigma and honoring transgender pronouns (great ideas) have mutated into death pranks and trolls (poor execution), it is with great hope (but, little optimism) that I wish California the best in promoting safe, legal prostitution. The emphasis is on "safe." Human trafficking on the west coast is a problem. So is outlawing the world’s (supposed) oldest profession. Dearest California, please, please do not fuck this up. You "legalized" weed, but the cartels are still setting up shop in the forests. You "legalized" same-sex marriage, but forgot to fix the family court systems (now couples of all orientations and genders are getting fucked out of child support for kids they aren’t even related to). What good is being progressive, if you only end up screwing the people you tried to protect in the first place?

I hear very, very little negativity regarding the Nevada brothels. Same goes for Amsterdam. So, from one west coast sex work enthusiast to another, be patient, look to your neighbors and do it right this time. The optimist in me, as small as it is, can’t wait to see what dueling Tahoe whorehouses will look like. I’m hoping competition leads to quality.

A Semi-Serious Note About Seasonal Depression

This industry isn’t about stripping, dancing, playing music, drinking or serving drinks—it’s about acting. Every one of us (especially dancers) plays a part in a fantasy that is meant to be enjoyed by someone else. Dancers (at least the majority of you), you are "fantasy girl" to the lonely dude at the rack. Bartenders, you are "therapist lady" for the girl at your bar. DJs, well, we’re all pieces of shit, but there’s only so many memes on Facebook, thus, even we have to play the part of "sure, I have that awful song for you" now and then.

What I’m getting at, is that we are all wearing a mask of one sort or another. But, unlike drama geeks or celebrity actors, many of us got into this gig because of a fucked-up past, emotional baggage or something else of a not-that-pretty variety. Yes, much of our industry is populated by emotionally and mentally healthy adults who skirt the stigma of "sex worker" and live "normal" lifestyles. However, some of us have a not-so-bright past (or current situation). So, combine this with a career of making others forget about their shitty situations, and you have a recipe for...how should I put this...less-than-optimal mental well-being?

Our job is to entertain, but as cheesy as it sounds, you need to take care of yourself first, before you can go out and do the booty cash dance for others. This is especially true during the holidays, plus, the current social media and political climate doesn’t help. Take some time off. Slow down on the substances (this includes booze). Make sure that you’re not a walking time bomb of emotion, but allow yourself to unload when you need to (adding to the previous section, security guards are great shoulders for weeping dancers). Breathe.

I don’t mean to go all Tales From The Secret on our non-industry readers, but goddamnit, strippers are people, too. Naked people—the ones you throw pieces of paper at while drinking PBR on Christmas. This section is for them.

So, back to the dancers, managers, bartenders, DJs, bouncers, waitstaff and whatever it is Yanis does, remember that, for the next few months, we are entering a dark, rainy, depressing phase of Oregon weather. Not only do we need to take care of ourselves, but we have to be there for the customers who will undoubtedly fill up our clubs, once they cash grandma’s check and ditch the family gathering for a few rounds of lapdances.

And Miss Exotic Oregon 2018 Will Be..?

For most people, the holidays are a time to relax, enjoy the company of family members and unwind from the chaos (that, or maul each other for the last remaining cheap HDTV at Best Buy). In Portland, however, we don’t have time for grandma’s holiday dinner, as we’re knee-deep in Miss Exotic Oregon—the premiere strip club competition that lasts for over eight weeks. We will eventually be crowning the most talented—after selecting among dozens and dozens of nude entertainers—with the title of "Miss Exotic Oregon 2018." You still have time to make "alternate holiday plans" and let the wife and kids know that you’ll be headed out for an "employee-only office holiday party" this year, as the final qualifier rounds are approaching. By the time January arrives, the winner will be a bit richer (as well as the cover model for the January 2018 issue of Exotic), but for now, be sure to catch the qualifier rounds and support your pick for Miss Exotic Oregon (peep dates below).

If you’ve never attended a Miss Exotic Oregon event, you’re missing out. What makes our contest a bit different than others, is the nature of the N.W. Even though L.A., S.F. and Seattle have some amazing clubs, the sheer number of Portland-area strip joints results in a genuinely diverse roster of dancers. Chances are, the finalists for this year’s Miss Exotic Oregon will be as unique as they come—last year’s winner took the crown with a horror theme, while the previous year’s winner won a round while wearing roller skates. We don’t discriminate against the swimsuit model, pornstar or more "traditional" dancer types, but you’re not going to see them competing against fully tattooed, rollerblading lizard women outside of Portland. Trust me, these gigs (especially the finals) are much more entertaining than watching Christmas Story with the kids. In fact, as I’m wrapping up this issue of Exotic, I’m headed to Stars Cabaret (Salem) to check out this round’s roster.

Local Music Spotlight: Sleep Bandz

I stopped covering local music years ago, not because I don’t enjoy it, but due to the high turnover rate among Portland-area artists. What’s the point in giving an act a write-up, if the act won’t be around by the time the magazine goes to press? Longevity is not exactly common in the NW. So, when I bumped into my homie Sleep Bandz, who I last DJ’d for in 2009, it was refreshing to find out that Sleep Bandz (a.k.a. Sleep Bandana The Chief) is still doing music, to this day.

A rapper located somewhere between hyphie and trap, Sleep Bandz has a style that is accessible, but not boring. Lyricism is not absent here, but the music is also far from backpack hip-hop. Think newer rap for the beats, Mac Dre or Mistah F.A.B. for the lyrics and a mix of both styles when it comes to presentation. Aside from being able to keep up with (or ahead of) the trends, Sleep Bandz is semi-cursed by not one, but two acts that share his name (Oldominion MC Sleep, and doom metal band Sleep), but this has not stopped him from continuing to perform shows all over the NW. I enjoy it when a rapper (or stripper) refuses to change their name, just because a more established act shares it ("No, I was ’Isis’ first! They should change their name!!!"), this shows commitment.

Last time I DJ’d for Sleep Bandz, it was in a yuppie dive bar (these exist) in SW Portland. When one old couple wasn’t feeling the performance, Sleep jumped on top of the table next to them and rapped, directly at the couple, for five minutes straight, until they gave in and enjoyed the show. I’ve seen the dude rock shows at a variety of venue types, even killing it for punk rock crowds that usually avoid rap like soap. Sleep Bandz gets a mention in this column, because he’s been absolutely killing it and doesn’t change up every year or so, nor did he ever back down from his MC name (an old nickname). This gets my respect.

Look up Sleep Bandz (and his company, Rated Perfect) online and catch Sleep Bands on tour right now. I’ll be on the 1’s and 2’s for the Oregon stops (Friday, November 3rd at The Garages in Beaverton and Saturday, November 4th at Local Celebrity in Portland).

A Quick Apology To Vince Neil

Last month, I put Mötley Cre’s Vince Neil through the cheese grater in this column after seeing him perform at the Oregon State Fair. It has since been brought to my attention that Vince is a huge supporter of our industry and not the most deserving target for a rant. This is fair. I want to make clear that my review was coming from the place of a fan, as I’m a long time supporter of anything even related to Mötley Cre. I wanted to give the show a good write-up, but when the act listed on the ticket leaves his own stage for about an hour, it leaves a bad taste in a reviewer’s mouth. I paid money, brought a date and arrived early, just like I will the next time Vince rolls through. So, it is as a fan, not as a hater, that I laid down that minute-by-minute review of said show. It was a train wreck and probably not representative of the Vince Neil that folks usually get. I gave the same treatment to Ministry (my favorite act of all time), but Al isn’t out there, supporting strip clubs and pornstars, so to Vince, sorry for giving you shit. Us industry folk need to stick together, even during off-nights (trust me, I’ve had a few).

With that, please enjoy this issue of Exotic, in which I let our writers run wild with whatever they wanted. What we ended up with was a buffet of break-ups, boobs and the bizarre...enjoy

Spotlight Of Events - November 2017