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March 7th, 2007 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Doggie Style

A fashion show gets on all fours for a worthy cause.

     
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Thursday night I'll sit in an audience full of rich people, point at some skinny, fur-laden bitch and howl. It's the right thing to do.

"Boutiques Unleashed" is a fashion show featuring local dogs and TV news celebs strutting the cat—um...dogwalk in duds from area shops and designers. It benefits the DoveLewis Pet Loss Support Program. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at life), I've had a chance to be a part of this program, which was created by Enid Traisman back in '86 as a way for distraught pet owners, like me, to deal with the passing of their "loved ones" through group therapy. Last year I hosted the event. But when I reported on it for this column ("Daria's Bitch," WW, March 22, 2006), some readers thought I was barking up the wrong tree. "What does this have to do with being gay, anything newsworthy, or anything of remote interest to someone other than Beck?" a reader asked. On the eve of the show, it's time I answered those "questions."

On being gay: I'm an old-fashioned queer fart: My pets are my "kids." Kids that don't live long and can't take care of themselves. I'm not saying straight people don't go through the same ordeal. They do. But for a gay softy like me—whose youth was spent picking out useless party clothes and is now spent picking up dog shit—I'm completely shaken to my core when one of those "kids" die, like my mama cat, Peg, did in January. This DoveLewis program helped me grieve in a way that honored my inner drama queen without making me feel like a total freak. To read about the special bond between dogs and queer owners, check out Paws and Reflect by Neil Plakcy and Sharon Sakson (Alyson Books, 304 pages, $24.95), a new tome devoted to this timeless subject.

On being newsworthy: Even our own Mayor Tom Potter (who has two cats, named Oliver and Tula) is in on this dog-and-pony show. In honor of the event, he has officially declared this "Pet Fashion Week" in P-town. WW's Nigel Jaquiss noted in a recent story that Multnomah County charges more for a license to operate a doggie daycare than our state does for one to run a care facility for seniors. And The New York Times has estimated pet-care service revenue is going to top $25 billion by 2010. So, what is "news" if this isn't it? And don't say "Anna" or "Iraq."

On being remotely interesting: Pets have been a part of world culture since Cleopatra stroked her first pussy. Nothing gets mouths flapping more than asking people about their pets. It's one of the first things I ask about when I meet someone. Not surprisingly, some of the most telling responses come when answering that question. "To me it's the same as having children," says Reed Coleman, DoveLewis' development director. "You give to something outside yourself. It's the ultimate commitment." Speaking of commitments, I've gone and done something stupid: I've joined the DoveLewis volunteer Ambassador Board. Sure, I may not have much money, but I have a big heart, and it's high time I shared it with my "friends." Hope that answers your questions. If not, go hump yourself.


Boutiques Unleashed at the Acadian Ballroom, 1829 NE Alberta St., dovelewis.org. 6 pm Thursday, March 8. $50 advance ($60 at the door).
 
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