The trick was where you chose to put the dollar bill.
A safe choice was the clavicle. That way you'd get nuzzled when they went for the cash. If you were brazen, you'd fold a bill, place it on the tip of your nose and then lean backward over the bar. That way a naked "dancer" could straddle his junk over your snout, squat down, and grab the flimsy bill between his penis and scrotum—without using his hands. Sometimes they'd flip around and use their butt to pick it up. It all depended on the night, the dancer, and on how much you drank (and tipped).
Not long ago, if you went to a Stark Street bar, you were bound to go face-to-ball sack with a stripper. Now, with the imminent closure of Silverado this month due to the sale of its building (its neighbor Club Portland has already closed its bathhouse doors), and the fact Three Sisters is tits-up, the days of enjoying debriefed dancing dudes are down to a precious few.
While some queer bars—Boxxes/Brig, Embers, Casey's, CC Slaughters—still drag out underwear-clad go-go boys on a semi-frequent basis, it doesn't compare to the debauchery served up on a nightly basis at this soon-to-be-extinct strip joint. It was cool to get a little cock and tail with your cocktail. That this opportunity is all but gone in a town that's built its rep on having more strip clubs than anywhere else in the world is a low down, dirty shame.
Still, there's no way to stop "progress" on Stark Street. Developers know there's gold to be made in these godless hills. That said, I'm not about to become a member at Steam Portland just so I can see a porn star wannabe swing his thing in a thong.
So what's a gay boy to do? Are the glory days of gay strip clubs at an end, just because a few businesses closed up shop?
"No," says Howie Bierbaum, who manages the Wonder Ballroom and is a longtime local queer promoter. "[The gay strip scene] will just morph into something else that some savvy bar owner will capitialize upon. We all know this town is way too raunchy for this not to happen."
Word is Silverado will stay in business—but what kind of biz and where it will be is hard to say. Greg, one of the bartenders, told me that customers will "decide" where their next locale will be via a Web contest (silveradopdx.com). If you ask me, though, that sounds fishy. Would a bigtime straight bar, like Lotus, leave it up to a bunch of horny, f-d up frat boys to choose where their next puke-'n'-pick-up joint should go? I don't think so.
I think the Web campaign is a stall tactic so the owner can figure out what to do next—cut and run with the money made off our collective drunk gay asses or invest in a new bar that will never recapture the memories we once shared here.
The future, my queers, is now. If you've got a few singles burning a hole in your pocket, I suggest now is the time you use them.