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August 3rd, 2005 Brandon Hartley | Featured Stories
 

IT'S STRIPPARAOKE!

Investigating Portland's not-quite-exposed fusion of lounge pastimes.

     
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It's 1 am, and I'm on a smoke-filled stage wearing a stranger's bra. I have to work in the morning, but instead of getting some much-needed shut-eye, I'm spitting out the words to Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine." After botching an old James Brown move, I fall on my ass. Not missing a beat, a dancer drops to her knees and grinds her crotch against my leg. If only Mrs. Patterson, my old Sunday-school teacher, could see me now.

P-town has long been known as a haven for strip clubs and aspiring drunk lounge singers. But that pairing is kicked up a notch at Devils Point, where a mix of these classic pastimes has sparked "Stripparaoke," and I've drawn the assignment to report on this trend.

The night started quietly over a few bottles of Tsingtao at the Pagoda, and then started to get weird when two other WW interns and I set sail for Devils Point, a Southeast Foster Road strip club owned by Frank Faillace, the mind behind Dante's. This tiny space looks just like Beelzebub's romper room, as the walls, the floor, even the ceiling are painted the color of hellfire. A Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machine sits in a corner next to a set of black curtains. Two thick dungeon chains decorate the club's rock-star stage, which is outfitted with a disco ball and a fog machine.

It's Sunday night, Stripparaoke night, and a guy in a rumpled suit takes the stage as we enter. I order a $2 Miller High Life as he eviscerates "Daydream Believer." Valentine, the stripper on duty tonight, is missing in action until we notice these words printed at the bottom of the karaoke slips: "Check this box if you would like a dancer to join you."

We hand in our slips, and a few minutes later I'm on stage to sing "Witchcraft." I'm instructed to keep my paws off Valentine, but her appendages have free rein. By the time I make it to the line "it's strictly taboo," her legs are wrapped around my head. This must be standard procedure, because the club's Catholic schoolgirl-dressed emcee is obliviously sorting through a stack of CDs. Valentine also isn't shy with my co-worker, Autumn, who receives the same treatment while belting out Tracy Bonham's "Mother Mother." Later, Autumn and fellow intern Pete will team up with Valentine for a three-way "I Got You Babe," destined to rattle the gates of this faux hell.

Her onstage moves are impressive, but there's no getting around the fact that Valentine has yet to do any actual stripping. Around midnight, she's covered in sweat and working the room. She tosses a pack of Old Gold cigarettes on our table and pulls up a stool. "There're a lot of ladies in the room, so I'm keeping my clothes on tonight," Valentine explains. "Tits and ass are cool, but I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

Despite the lack of exposed flesh, no one in the crowd is complaining. The stage is covered in dollar bills by the time I head up for "Sweet Child o' Mine." During Slash's guitar solo, Valentine ushers me into a nearby dressing room. "OK, we've got 32 measures, but we've got to work fast," she says. She tosses a sequined dress at me, but it doesn't fit. We decide to go with the bra. Somewhere in the crowd my fellow intern is snapping photos. I guess I can rule out a future career in politics.

MORE OF THE SKIN-&-SING SCENE

Karaoke at the Alibi Tiki Lounge 7 nights a week. 4024 N Interstate Ave., 287-5335.

The Acropolis Steakhouse Live dancers 7 nights a week. 8325 SE McLoughlin Blvd., 231-9611.

Karaoke from Hell at Dante's Every Monday. 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630.

Safari Show Club Live dancers + live piranhas. 3000 SE Powell Blvd., 231-9199.


Devils Point, 5305 SE Foster Road, 774-4513. 9 pm. No cover.
 
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