Oh. My. God. I just saw Pat's penis.
The Eagle Portland, a NoPo pub that once catered to working stiffs (when it was called Porky's) but is now home to a group of hefty, hirsute homos called "bears," has caught my attention many a time in this column. In fact, I thought I was pretty much done writing about this joint.
That was before I saw the naked bartender.
The Eagle's wood- and tin-paneled room—where menu items include the "double-fister" (it's a big sandwich) and hardcore gay porn is always playing on TV screens—is an awesome place to see ursine Oregonians in their natural habitat. But big bear hugs aside, this drowsy den takes on a different spin when the flannel shirts and shorts start flying off.
I'd heard of an "ultra-minimal fashion night" happening at the bar, but it was only recently that I finally got up enough nerve to go in there during "Bearnaked Billiards," the Eagle's free pool and designated naked night.
Sidling up to the bar, I was greeted by none other than the Eagle's owner, Pat Lanagan (he also owns the Fat Cobra porn emporia). The hairy dude, dressed in nothing but a cowboy hat and boots, said, "What can I get you?"
My first thought was to ask him where he kept his server's permit (it's in his socks). My second was: Just how the hell does he get away with being naked behind a bar?
According to Lanagan, there's nothing out there to stop him. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission just posted about this on its blog (who knew it had one of those?) at olccblog.blogspot.com, stating, "Nude dancing and other forms of sexually explicit entertainment is a constitutionally protected form of free expression." According to the post: "When this [2005 Oregon Supreme Court] ruling went into effect, the OLCC no longer had any authority to regulate nude or lewd activities in businesses that hold a liquor license." Which means it doesn't touch nude servers. And as for the health department? Dave Martin of the Oregon Department of Human Services' Foodborne Illness Prevention Program says, "Our rules don't specifically prohibit no clothing—our rules specify clean outer garments and clean hands and arms. We are assuming employees are wearing clothes."
As I thought about whether I wanted my drink shaken or stirred, I sat silently at a table and watched a group of nude, potbellied men try to bank their balls off the rim of the table under a sign that read, "NAKED POOL, ALWAYS WELCOME." Next to me, an attractive older gent said to his younger, buzz-shaven friend, "It would be weird to play pool naked." His friend replied: "It'd be weird to do anything in public naked."
Lanagan says he has a "sweet little thing going on here" for his bears and says there haven't been any problems—so far. Will this spread to other local watering holes? Will we start seeing servers with shaved kitties at the E-Room? Oh. My. God.
Bearnaked Billiards is Thursday nights at the Eagle Portland, 835 N Lombard St., 283-9734.