Portland's queerest district, the Burnside Triangle, just got one more fist hammered up its...oh, never mind. Just know the Eagle will close its doors by the end of February.
For those of you who don't have a clue what that means, the word "Eagle," when associated with queer culture, is code for guys looking for a kink in their amore. Every big city in the world has an "Eagle." Think of it as Starbucks for the queer fetish crowd. In Portland, ours has long been perched on Southwest Stark Street.
With news of its closure, that means there will no longer be a bar in this part of town catering to men who like to parade around in leather chaps, tight, torn Levi's and Tom of Finland T-shirts.
Considering the upscale development that continually encroaches on this pink-tinged neighborhood (which is also home to Silverado and Scandals) like a plague, it's not much of a stretch that a tavern full of jock-strapped, bearish men and hardcore gay porn—and featuring a sex sling swinging overhead—would lose its lease. I'm surprised it hasn't happened much sooner.
"We aren't closing," says Karl Wilgus, the 43-year-old who has owned the bar over the past two years. Wilgus told me he's moving the Eagle closer to the queer bars that dot Old Town, like the Dirty Duck. "It's not my choice to move, but at least we'll still have the Eagle."
Or will he? Here's the twist: Wilgus no longer has exclusive rights to that name. "The Eagle," and four other versions of that moneymaking moniker, was registered by someone else after Wilgus failed to renew those names last summer.
It's interesting to note that eagles (the birds, not the bars), like vultures, are scavenging birds of prey. It's no wonder, then, that the eagle-eyed hunter who swooped down and grabbed up all those names is none other than Pat Lanagan. Pat's the owner of Fat Cobra Video and the North Lombard gay bar Urge, and someone I've featured more than once in this column ("Clash of the Queer Titans," July 26, 2006; "Whose Bar is it Anyway?" May 31, 2006).
Although Lanagan refuses to confirm to me whether he will actually do it, I believe he will soon transform the increasingly-rough-around-the-edges Urge into an Eagle. This means North Portland is about to get its first leather bar that doesn't do Harley-Davidson potlucks.
Does that mean Wilgus will be unable to use Eagle as his business name? According to Oregon laws, Wilgus could file an affidavit stating he made an error in letting his renewal lapse, allowing him to keep that name. But Lanagan would still have the right to use it, too. And, as I've noted before, Pat loves a good tussle. When I asked Lanagan if he would fight for the name, he said, "I wouldn't hesitate to defend my rights to exclusively use the name that I have legally purchased, which had become available due to the lassitude of another."
Oh my god, this is going to get good.