Ages ago, back when Amazon deliveries were supposed to be inconvenient and "Young Adult" sections were far more disturbing, rather different providers hosted pages for repeated visits by the world's oldest publishing demographic. When courts affirmed the sweeping protections of Oregon's uniquely pro-obscenity constitution following the 1970 arrest of a Portland cigar shop owner for intent to distribute a book called Lesbian Roommate, Puddletown porn stores heretofore clustered in decaying downtown began to unfold from the center.

Behind beaded curtains hung at the darkened edge of an otherwise deserted faux family-friendly storefront, past thickening clouds of Aqua Velva and moldering bachelorhood, squat men of indeterminate ethnicity would oversee mismatched stock invariably featuring heaped issues of the past few decades' progressively lurid homegrown skin mags, glossy Scandinavian picture books, and starter perversion kits in untranslated German. There would be no talking, no eye contact, no decoration of any kind beyond the overlapping anatomical imagery and misspelled signage. Women, as far as anyone knew, remained unaware of the shop's existence.

In its way, the ye olde smut parlor grimly prefigured the earliest days of dial-up internet. While porno theaters survived by embracing the performative aspects of a niche community, and XXX video arcades expanded focus (toys, novelties, clothing), adult shops prizing only customer anonymity and variety of freely glanced-through merchandise had long ago realized the limitations of brick-and-mortar commerce. Most of the old porn stores are now gone.

And yet, this is Portland—a city united by mutual pride in the size of our bookstores, health of our sex industry, and fervor of our lunatic resistance to change. We have pornographic memories, in other words, and we mourn our slain. As final thrust of Erotica Appreciation Month, WW dove deep into the trembling crevices of this once throbbing marketplace and spread open the few remaining nudie magazine vendors to see what still sticks to the pages.

Bingo Used Books (Christina Booth)
Bingo Used Books (Christina Booth)

Bingo Used Books
3366 SE Powell Blvd., 503-231-4091, bingousedbooks.com.

Reversing every accepted principle of adult section feng shui, visitors entering Bingo must immediately step over drifting stacks of recent gay/straight skin mags, evade DVDs piled waist-high, and avoid falling chin-deep inside the big box of hentai (Velvet Love, CEO Fellatio). Keep strolling through the surprisingly voluminous confines, past the sports/music/gossip mags and blockbuster videos, and along the farthest wall, just inches from the restroom, a darkened row of shelves (Four Men, Courtly Love, Of Human Bondage) conceal something called "World Literature." Bingo has learned well: Never bury the lede.

Cameron’s (Jay Horton)
Cameron’s (Jay Horton)

Cameron's Books & Magazines
336 SW 3rd Ave., 503-228-2391.

Advertised as Portland's oldest bookstore, Cameron's interesting though smallish collection won't soon worry Powell's—but as an inimitable civic resource safeguarding a periodical heritage otherwise abandoned to dumpsters and microfiche, it's far more vital. Three separate caretakers have assumed ownership of its backroom's vast, impeccably curated magazine bank. Turning left at Vogue up a few rickety flights, the Playboy archive bleeds into a jaw-dropping glimpse into the evolving American male hive mind as the 1950s' swinging photographer (Sunbather, Pose) turned '60s lothario (Escapade, Ace), '70s rocker (Adam, Dude) and '80s perv weekender (Nugget).

Longfellows Books
1401 SE Division St., 503-239-5222, longfellowspdx.com.

There's a difference between dirty bookstores and, well, dirty bookstores. The over quarter-century old Longfellows Books and Magazines survives as ramshackle library subsumed by daunting stacks of unlikely periodicals (Gun Moll, Chess Life, Fur-Fish-Game, Scale Woodcraft) plucked at random from throughout the past century and organized by apparent whimsy. Though quite literally anything may be buried within the strata, specific requests for prurient material lead the youngish proprietor down a darkened stairway where an undisclosed trove of the more fanciful 60s/70s mags lie locked behind a basement door. Collectors looking for something rawer shouldn't bother showing up. Call ahead for specific requests, he says, a bit too eagerly. All the hardcore's at home.

Longfellow’s (Jay Horton)
Longfellow’s (Jay Horton)

City of Portland: Archives and Records Center
1800 SW 6th Ave # 550, 503-865-4100, portlandoregon.gov/archives,

In fairness to both our readers and the tireless employees of Portland's Archives and Records Center, PARC isn't much of a porn shop. The rooms are too bright, the hours are too early, and the constant chatter of pensioners working their way through 19th C water bureau records would dissuade all but the rarest fetishists. Nevertheless, though attempts to properly enjoy the magazine as its publishers intended may well be an act of terrorism, they've preserved the last surviving copies of '73-74 Oregon Playmate Review—a forgotten stripper showcase featuring top production values, genuine wit, and recognizably local flavors on parade. Throughout the four issues extant, there are recurrent touchstones whispering of old Portlandia. Hard to define, exactly, but you know it when you see it.