Portland’s Oldest Strip Club Has Gone Virtual to Survive

Making the leap to online content may have seemed the least likely COVID pivot for Mary’s Club, which isn’t exactly known for technical innovation.

Even as Portland rapidly changed over the decades, you could always
count on consistency at Mary's Club.

While the pandemic has upended all traditions—the strip club's cursive marquee has temporarily gone dark—performers at the nearly 70-year-old institution have kept the show going virtually, practically since the very
first shutdown last spring.

Making the leap to online content may have seemed the least likely
COVID pivot for Mary's, which isn't exactly known for technical innova-
tion. The space itself appears frozen in time, with a scene that's more
1950s stag party at an Elks lodge than 21st century strip bar.

But both dancers and customers have transitioned easily to a streaming format. Every Sunday, via Mary's Instagram account or by email, viewers can purchase access to the show, which typically features a rotating cast of seven who all broadcast from their homes, and a couple of the bartenders even exchange banter in a chat room.

Working outside their typical venue has posed its own challenges—after all, not every dancer has a pole in her living room. But forced relocation allows the performers to think beyond the cramped dais and get creative with routines.

"We've had oil baths, we've had shower shows, we've had dancers
rolling around on beds of roses," says performer and virtual show co-producer Rocket Queen. "Mary's Club is full of dancers who are just true entertainers and really love their job and love being onstage. We all miss it a lot. This is a fun, creative outlet."

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