The landmark gay bathhouse Club Portland,
long-held as a Stark Street icon of sorts and quite possibly the largest bathhouse on the West Coast — is closing its doors for good this Sunday, June 17, as first reported at this writer's non-WW blog
But long-time customers and weekend Gay Pride partiers don't know about the closing in advance of the 24/7/365 Club on Southwest 12th Avenue. According to sources, Club Portland is closing immediately following Gay Pride Weekend in Portland, but doesn't want to let the news out in advance so as not to scare off potential big revenue for the weekend.
Founded in 1987 by bathhouse entrepreneur Richard Lawson, Club Portland was often blamed by public health officials and other community leaders as partly responsible for new waves of HIV and STD infections, though those accusations were near-impossible to prove.
The Club has faced competition from the increasingly popular Steam Portland, a slick new Northeast Portland gay bathhouse that opened in 2003. Among other parts of Club Portland's fanciful history is this perennial rumor: that "The Divine Miss M," the popular singer Bette Midler, performed there at some point in the 1980's as part of her bathhouse performance tour, to a sold-out, towel-clad crowd.
(photo above: the entrance to Club Portland)