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Exotic Magazine - Uncovering The Northwest Since 1993

Erotic City

by Ray McMillin

Are we kidding? It’s only one month into the new year and already, we’ve got the same old shit in the headlines. The Republicans did something dumb. The Democrats did something creepy. Rinse, repeat. Then, we’ve got the new shit, that simply tries to one-up the old shit, in terms of being even dumber shit. This month? Teenagers are vaping Tide Pods. Yes, they’ve moved on from eating the damn things and are now smoking the liquid using e-cig devices. Idiocracy is slowly becoming a documentary and Darwin deserves a posthumous award or two. But, alas, this is "local news and events," not "Ray’s list of shit that he’ll use as a defense, when he finally snaps and takes out a liberal arts college."

Strip Club News From Around P-Town

In an extremely unfortunate turn of events, Club PlayPen’s doors are temporarily closed, due to a fire that occurred last month, damaging the interior beyond the point of immediate repair. Personally, I think Club PlayPen is one of the best spots on the north end of town and, once they re-open after a remodel, I fully plan on rolling out there to grab a few drinks and dances. Strip clubs and taco shops are the only establishments that I shed a tear for, when they close down (even temporarily).

Speaking of which, on a much more positive note, the location of what was once the Boom Boom Room is now housing a new, upscale club called Reveal. Thank god someone kept the building a strip club, because it’s a fucking perfect location— right off of I-5, off-street parking and within walking distance of public transit. Portland adult entertainment mainstay, DJ Dick Hennessy, will be hosting a Mardi Gras Party at Reveal Lounge on Saturday, February 20th. I’ll be sure to swing by, so bring me some of those sweet Dutch pre-rolls, Dick! Gorilla style!

Venereal Day Is Here

As far as the rest of the town, well, what can we say? It’s February, which means the first two weeks of the month are dedicated to social anxiety and questions about where the relationship is going, followed by two more weeks of being broke, or worse, having the bubble guts thanks to upscale diners never cleaning their kitchens. Valentine’s Day isn’t something I shake my fist at, but it’s no big deal, when it comes to my dating life. If I’m only nice to you for a few weeks during the shortest month of the year, then I’m probably not making dinner reservations for anywhere besides McDonald’s.

Now, for the singles out there...man, do we have some great advice in this issue. Helen’s column, Slutscapades, takes on V-Day cards (read Helen’s tips on making your own—I’m thinking of a Silence Of The Lambs theme, but I can’t find a unique rhyme for "lotion"), while Jonas Does Portland drops some knowledge on how to be single in the Rose City on the world’s most overrated holiday. Myself? Well, I suggest only one course of action for anyone this year, whether or not you’re single, taken or "jus’ fuckin’," like most of Portland—patronize an adult shop. That’s right...I’m not only pandering to our advertisers here, but I’m being completely honest about how to make a memory. See, no one will look back on years of amazing, romantic sex and think, "Hey, remember that time you took me to that nice restaurant that overlooks downtown?" Unless, of course, that dinner was followed by a trip to Taboo or Fantasyland. Adult stores are to Valentine’s Day what candy stores are to Halloween— sure, there’s always a reason to patronize them, but the perfect time to do so is on a day when everyone is celebrating.

Israel’s Tip Rail Makes Headlines

Aside from that story about Trump and some over-the-hill pornstar (seriously, I’m not fucking covering it...see my column on Presidents And Porn for the real dirt), there really isn’t a lot of news regarding strippers, adult stars or Exotic-worthy material floating around the media outlets, until you go halfway across the world to Israel. Sure, Israel is in the news every day, but mostly because of holy wars, politics and all that dumb shit. This time, however, we’ve got ourselves a fresh-ass scandal, complete with strippers and politicians’ kids. According to Chicago Tribune, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a new scandal Tuesday after a recording emerged of his 26-year-old, stay-at-home son joyriding at taxpayer expense to Tel Aviv strip clubs with his super-rich buddies and bragging about how his father pushed through a controversial gas deal."

Whoa. Now, that is some next level shit, when it comes to co-opting Western traditions and embracing globalism. I remember when images of backdoor, Middle Eastern scandals involved images of briefcases and assault rifles. Netanyahu’s kid, well, he has shit figured out. Take money from the taxpayers, court your clients by taking them to the strip club and then brag about it, because why the fuck not? I can’t tell if this kid is looking up to Bill Clinton, Donald Trump or a combination of both, but it’s nice to see that U.S. and Israel are finally coming to an agreement on the good ol’ fashioned ways in which grown adults conduct business— by letting the bosses’ son take everyone out for lap dances.

Strippers On The Big Screen

It’s odd, living in a major metropolitan city with more strip clubs than cops, mainly because the widely held beliefs regarding strip club culture—especially in the media—are often a few decades old. Hell, even our own Oregonian recently ran a story about Portland’s "seedy underbelly" of "strip clubs and prostitutes," with their newest gritty scandal being... wait for it...Jiggles losing their liquor license. Yeah, that happened in 1984. The place is a goddamned Cracker Barrel now, half of the dancers who worked there are hitting menopause and there are these crazy pocket computers that all the kids are using to send messages to each other. Let’s ignore the 1,134 other strip clubs in downtown Portland alone and two decades’ worth of history, because why not?

So, it’s dope to be privy to not one, but two, locally sourced, far-from-"indie" films that represent the Portland strip club industry, while simultaneously humanizing the dancers who keep our clubs well-oiled (literally and figuratively).

The first of these films is Vicious, a 2016 release that is not to be confused with a short film of the same title, released a year earlier (both possess a "woman in trouble" plot synopsis, so make sure you check out the version showcased at ViciousTheMovie.com). The recipient of multiple awards, Vicious is an extremely underrated piece of cinema for more reasons than the obvious. For regular, boring, non-strip-clubby audiences, it’s a well-crafted thriller drama which is unlikely to generate any serious criticism. But, for those of us familiar with the strip club industry, Vicious is refreshing, in that it was clearly made by people who have not only been to a strip club once or twice, but have actually gotten to know a few dancers, bouncers, club owners and customers. Films that show a respect for the strip club industry are different than, say, shit fests like Showgirls or Striptease, that feature soulless dancers, generic backdrops and plot lines that always involve some shady, ethnically ambiguous dudes involved in drug deals or money laundering. In reality, there is crime and drama in the clubs, but never as it’s portrayed on the big screen.

Vicious tells a story that rings true to all too many dancers—that being, the tale of customer-turned-stalker. Strippers live a paradox, in which they become experts in being a fantasy girl for the men (and women) who pay their bills (and, thus, their livelihood), but in this process, they must also retain strict anonymity. I’ve always explained it as follows: a stripper can show a stranger her private parts, but she becomes a target when she lets him know her real name. Strippers are on the same level as, say, undercover cops or government informants (but, far superior in terms of ethics and contribution to society as a whole), when it comes to on-the-job safety. While this is clearly acknowledged in Vicious, the film takes it one step further by portraying club owners, bouncers, customers and dancers as one would meet them in real life. Sure, stereotypes are shit and there are dozens of archetypes out there, when it comes to clumping us "strip club people" into a box, Still, an oiled-up Burt Reynolds or fake titty Demi Moore never did us justice.

It’s hard to review Vicious without giving away spoilers, but it’s worth noting that, even after a decade or two in this industry, I found Vicious both hard to predict, as well as non-patronizing. Big ups to writer and director Jason Rosenblatt, for putting out such a well-produced and entertaining representation of the strip club life.

Next up, we’ve got Dancer Diaries. This film, well, I’m partial to it, because I have a small role. Same with local favorites including Elle Stanger, as well as many, many more familiar faces. Director and writer, Andy Norris, published a book by the same name, but there’s really only so much justice one can do for naked women, using text alone (trust me, I battle with this on a monthly basis). So, his movie sits, about 80% finished, awaiting funding. DancerDiaries.com is the place where you can become a producer of this destined-for-cult-status film, but let me save you the sales pitch—this movie is already the shit. Go check out clips from the website if you don’t believe me, but in short, it’s a spiderweb of stories that all involve Portland-area strippers (or, at least characters who strip and end up in Portland, somehow).

Humanizing dancers is something that, regardless of the sheer volume of adult entertainment available online, we don’t see enough of. Dancer Diaries features pole tricks and fist fights galore, but the focus of the plot is really on the women involved and their various backstories. Audiences will follow one girl as she hitchhikes up the 101 from Humboldt County, while another dancer’s story involves a more Vicious-themed set of gritty crime and tense-ass drama. I’ve also had the honor of meeting the director and writer, Andy Norris, and believe you me, when I tell you that this dude is fucking meticulous. I loathe the terms "indie" and "local," so I won’t use them to describe Dancer Diaries (plus, Andy’s still waiting on funding and I’m not sure he filmed most of it in Portland, so it is neither independent nor homegrown, if you want to get technical). I’ve seen stuff on Netflix that looks like it was produced on a flip phone, so it’s painful to see something as polished and professional as Dancer Diaries collect dust in post-production. If you’ve got a few extra Bitcoin laying around, toss some at this project and I guarantee you’ll be doing a service to the community.

New Year, New Writers!

Exotic would like to welcome to our team two new pen names, which are attached to real faces (trust me). Miss Tini, a resident P-Town bartender, just popped her Exotic cherry this month, with an excellent and scathing rant on the customers that keep bartenders on edge. Remember, strip clubs are bars—just, ya know, bars with poles and naked people. Learn from Tini and take her column to heart, before hitting the town with your amateur friends for Mardi Gras. Next up, we have Blazer Sparrow, who is presenting his second column this month. Blazer’s a music guy, and a cis white male, so I put him second. Plus, he’s a musician, so I’d put him third if I had the chance. Still, rumor has it that Chuck Palahniuk is a fan of his writing, so don’t skip his piece. And, of course, the rest of our "unusual gang of subgeniuses" has cram packed this month’s issue with a double dose of editorial. Like what you see? Want to send hate mail? Hit us up on Facebook (Facebook.com/XoticMag) and give us a poke, like, share or subscribe.

Spotlight Of Events - February 2018