Ray Billings used to be a hospital administrator. Through a series of incidental business moves, he has become the owner of one of the last porn theaters on the West Coast. In his hands, Southwest Portland's unassuming Jefferson Theater has become a (clean!) bastion for exhibitionists of all kinds, serving up six first-run films a day in two big-screen auditoriums--one straight, one gay.

Both video and zoning codes have decimated the once-busy XXX theater biz across the nation, but Billings is determined not to let this Jefferson drift into history. In order to encourage new (i.e., younger) customers, he's added a few new activities to his theater's menu. At his invitation, I ventured into the Jeff to witness one such event, something Billings calls "Nasty Karaoke."

At 9 pm sharp on a Hump Night, I sat my ass down in the Jefferson's hetero auditorium. Around 70 men--and seven women--fidgeted in their seats; on the big screen, a 20-foot-tall woman manipulated her shaved genitalia.

Suddenly two women bounded down the center aisle and onto the Jefferson's main stage. The porn flick's sound was cut, a disco ball was lit, and a large, leather-clad drag queen started working the front row. After an emcee-acting dude encouraged us to "feel up our neighbor," the bigger of the two ladies--I think her name was Mistress Mona--started laying things out: a riding crop, a fake fire pit, and a chain of what looked like really small ben wa balls, which she threatened to shove up her privates. When she pulled out a large sheet of silver Mylar, two old guys behind me, who provided running commentary à la The Muppet Show, wondered if the whole thing was going to turn into a Gallagher show.

It was anything but. And it wasn't karaoke.

Despite the event's name, there was no singing at all. Just "goddess" music that served as a soundtrack for free-form female ass-grabbing (all in front of a screen of free-form female ass-grabbing). At one point, a guy who looked and sounded like the Church Lady screamed "show us your tits" at Miss Mona. Miss M handled him with two words--"Shut up!"--before launching into a "meat inspection." This "audience participation" piece, frankly, made me jump out of my seat. I ran into the smaller queer theater. It had two people in it.

I headed back into the big house only to find that the too-short show was over. But the action was far from done. In the back of the theater, a "couples-only corral" held a group of swinging, semi-naked older gents and gals. They were getting it on, to the delight of the flabby masturbators who swarmed to them like bees to honey. I had no idea straight guys stood that close to each other when they masturbated. Learn something every day.

Then someone grabbed my ass--the Church Lady dude. That's when I knew I had to go. So much for "Nasty Karaoke." I'll stick with queer stuff from now on. It's just not as freaky.

Jefferson Theater

1232 SW 12th Ave. 223-1846

18 and older $8

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