November 10th, 2004 Chris Lydgate | Special Section Stories
 

THE BAD BOY

Frank Peters, man about town

     
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Sept. 14, 1989
Frank Peters' three rules of cooking:

Disable all smoke alarms.

If you're cooking for three, prepare for five.

Never sauté in the nude.

Chef. Baseball star. Securities broker. Ladies' man. Dope grower. Private eye. Frank Peters has led more lives than a tangerine tomcat.

WW first profiled Peters in December 1975, when he was 32 years old and the manager of the Portland Mavericks, a rogue's gallery of knockabout ne'er-do-wells masquerading as a minor-league baseball team. Peters was troublemaker-in-chief. To protest an umpire's call during a game in Seattle, he stole first base--literally--and hid it in his hotel room. At another game, he rotated the team through the innings so every player played every position. He also hired a bodyguard--to protect himself from the players.

If that weren't enough, while Peters managed the Mavs, he was also the maestro of several of Portland's most notorious nightlife hot spots, including Peters' Inn, Peters' Habit and Satan's Disco.

WW reporter Susan Stanley tailed Peters on "a typical day," which became a testosterone-fueled odyssey including an enormous white Cadillac, a pilgrimage to Mary's Club, and copious quantities of alcohol. Peters even managed to sneak in an amorous tryst on his houseboat while Stanley made some phone calls.

"Women are a lot like dogs," he told Stanley. "The more attention you give them, the more they want. Tactile stimulation. Be sure and put that in--tactile stimulation."

"Women want my body," he added later. "Women sense my powers and seek me out."

Over the next decade, Peters' antics grew only more outlandish. He once dismissed the entire staff of Peters' Inn in the middle of a shift. Every year, he'd throw a party for all the employees he'd fired. He was 86'ed from his own bar on at least three occasions.

Which only seemed to heighten his sex appeal. "Women were just getting comfortable with birth control, empowerment and orgasm," he says now. "I just happened to be in their path."

In 1982, he mounted a quasi-serious campaign for governor as an independent; one of his ideas was to have F4 Phantom jets from the National Guard buzz Japanese boats that were trawling in Oregon waters and driving down hauls for local fishermen.

But his candidacy went nowhere, and in the ensuing years, his luck ran low. The nefarious dive Peters' Habit folded. His Seattle bar went bankrupt. Peters' Inn became the haunt of drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps. By 1986, he owed Uncle Sam $60,000 in back taxes. He needed money, and he needed it fast.

The answer was the "sea of green."

Peters cranked up a marijuana operation that ultimately spanned five houses, each growing 150 plants he harvested six times a year. He might have gotten away with it, too, if his love life had been simpler. As it was, one of his girlfriends tipped off the police after Peters gave a leather jacket, which he had initially promised her, to another girlfriend.

By the time the cops finally busted down his door in January 1989, Peters had slipped into a life of 24-hour debauchery--as detailed in WW's second major profile of him, "Sex, Lies & Videotape" by Jim Redden. Police found 800 pot plants, plus homemade videos of underage girls having sex together. Peters ranted about Hitler. He eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree rape involving a 15-year-old girl, one count of contributing to the delinquency of a 16-year-old girl, and several counts of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance. Judge Steven Gallagher sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Today Peters, 61, sits at a table at the Grand Cafe, wearing a blue golf T-shirt, khaki shorts, black basketball shoes and a Beavers ball cap. His ponytail is speckled white and gray, and his reading glasses dangle around his neck on a blue string.

"Women don't want my body so much any more," he sighs. "In fact, they're trying to get away from my body."

Peters spent 30 months at the Oregon State Penitentiary, an experience chronicled in a quirky, self-published memoir, The Frank Peters Catalog. When he walked out the prison gates, he had to rebuild his life from scratch. He performed his community service at the Washington Park Zoo, shoveling elephant manure. He learned how to cook and earned a certificate from the American Culinary Federation. And he went into business with two partners at the Grand Cafe.

"This place has allowed me to win my reputation back," he says. "Through hard work."

Peters has also reconnected with sports. He plays on the Eastbank Saloon's amazingly successful over-the-hill basketball squad--who are now national champions 10 times over in the National Amateur Athletic Union.

At first, it is difficult to reconcile this soft-spoken restaurateur with the cocky rascal who peeks out from the old newspaper clippings--or is he just on his best behavior?

"No," he says. "Prison really jerked my chain. I didn't get to be a bad boy. And a lot of that was an act. I wasn't really ashamed of what I had done...but I don't get to be the same Frank Peters."

Or does he? Asked about his love life, he grouses that his girlfriend just left him. Her age: 23.

"I have been a bad boy," he confesses. "But I've tried not to hurt the team."

Whatever scars he still carries, Peters has hung on to his wacky brand of humor. Several months ago, the Grand Cafe held a karaoke contest judged by the Honorable Steven Gallagher--the same jurist who sent Peters to prison.

Peters says Judge Gallagher gave him the perfect sentence. "Just enough time to get into shape," he grins. "But not too much to lose my edge."


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Intro | Tonya's Mob: Tonya Harding, Jeff Gillooly & Shawn Eckardt | The Crusader: Gordon Shadburne | The Meteor: Billy Ray Bates | Satan's Pilgrim: Rex Diabolos Church | The Firebrand: Ron Herndon | The Bad Boy: Frank Peters | The Broken Halo: Michael Stoops | The Crack Mother: Anita Nichols | The Veejay: Kennedy | The Girl from Electra: Treva Throneberry | The Perfect Victim: Azalea Cooley | The Grappler: Dutch Savage | Wonder Boy: Pat Gillis | The Ex-Files: Marcia & Steve Moskowitz | The Witness: Dave Mazzella | The Prankster: Igor Vamos | The Intern: Monica Lewinsky | The Runaways: Diane Walden & Peter | Top Cop: Mark Kroeker | Sprawl Kitten: Kate Schiele | Authority Figure: Rocky Balada | The Hulk: Dry Dock 4 | The Candidate: Gail Shibley | The Super: Ben Canada | The Organ Grinder: Dr. William J. Brady | Pillars of the Community: The Lovejoy Columns | The Survivor: Giles Thompson | The Contender: Andy Minsker | Space Invader: The Phantom Dialer | The Red Menace: Ma Anand Sheela

 
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