When legendary Portland punk club Satyricon closed its doors in 2010, Willamette Week published a massive oral history on the venue titled "I Think I Was There." But there was another oral history, compiled by longtime WW contributor Jay Horton, that was meant to be handed out to the crowd at the club's final show. For various reasons, it was never issued.
In anticipation of the documentary Satyricon: Madness & Glory, which premieres tonight at Cinema 21, here, for the first time, is an alternate oral history of what was once, according to Voodoo Donuts' Tres Shannon, "the most important club on the west coast."
Satyr (sÄ'tÉr, sÄt'Ér) N : A Greek mythological deity half man and half beast, prone to revelry and riotousness, associated with comedy, sex drive and mischief.
Some classical works depict young satyrs being tended to by older, sober satyrs, while there are also some representations of child satyrs taking part in Bacchanalian / Dionysian rituals (including drinking alcohol, playing musical instruments, and dancing) ... [Wikipedia]
Icon (kn) N : The object of great attention and devotion, revered as an important and enduring symbol. Something widely and uncritically admired, especially when symbolizing a movement or field of activity.
The reverence and veneration shown to icons, however, is not directed to mere paint, wood, or stones ... [OrthodoxWikipedia]
Satyricon (sÄ'tÉr'kn) N : A nightclub in Portland's Old Town district, which existed from 1983 until 2010
Satyricon was the most important club on the west coast, from the late 80's through the mid 90's ... [Tres Shannon]
"It was like the punk rock Cheers."
Sam Henry, The Wipers: In the early 80's, there was only Louie's LaBamba. And the Met, which is Dante's now, an all ages gay disco that stayed open 'til like 5 in the morning. My first experience at Satyricon was in '82 – in Napalm Beach, we played with 69 Ways and Final Warning. Before George started Satyricon, it was just this bar that I would go hide in, use the bathroom.
Walt Curtis, poet: I used to work on Skid Row, and knew George the Greek, as I call him. We named Satyricon after Fellini's movie.
Courtney Taylor, The Dandy Warhols: I played Satyricon the week it opened. My dad drove us down in our VW bus. We loaded in through the back door, and he pointed out the needles: "don't step on those, kids, and watch out for piddle and poo, it's just as bad." That was before AIDS. I was 14.
Dave Dillinger, Napalm Beach: Satyricon was the first place I showed up at when I got off the bus in '89. It's funny, I didn't know anything about Satyricon, but its proximity to the bus station got me there.
DJ Gregarious: When I moved to Portland, the second week I was here, I went to Satyricon five nights in a row. On the fifth night, I lost my wallet with the last $20 to my name until my foodstamps two weeks later. The next morning, I got a call: "Hello, this is George. Is Gregarious there? I found his wallet." I was relieved to know that at least I'd get back the eelskin, but, when I picked it up, the money was still there ... and I knew I was home to stay in this city.
Todd Crosby: I was eighteen and had been in Portland less than a week. I really enjoyed the fact that you could get into a club, you'd sit down and they'd serve you a beer. Within the first week, I think I met most of the people I came to be associated with. I'd always liked sort of a 70's garage psychedelia, and here it is personified, with a lot of direction from Mark Sten and Tom to lead me through all the local bands. It was a treasure trove. And I kind of just thought that every place was like that, and then I started going places like Seattle and San Francisco and back east...
Jasin Fell: I was doing lights for this band the Beauty Stab ,who was managed by Tony of Key Largo, and George hated Tony and vice versa. At the end of the night, there was this big controversy as to whether or not they got ripped off at the door. Oh, and while we're loading out, John and George are firing guns into the back wall of the Satyricon. That was one of my first experiences there as a kid, and became the foundation for what I could do in that room as a performer, as an adult.
Tres Shannon, Voodoo Doughnut/X Ray Cafe: There was an element of fear just walking in the door. Christmas day, we opened up for Mule, played Sex bomb Baby for 25 minutes straight ... I had to go back to the car to get the Christmas tree, and, on my way back, this guy fucking held me up right in front of Satyricon, he put a knife to my belly, said "give me your money", and I kind of backed off, ran into the street. He chased me, and then Taki poked his head out and was like: "What are you doing, man? Let that guy go!" I ran into the Satyricon with the Christmas tree, and I was so jacked up from almost getting stabbed that I think I put on a pretty great show.
Sam: Inside the club, it was like a home for everybody. Everybody comes here because they know everybody. It was like the punk rock Cheers. George let everybody in. You just had to get there and create your own scene and they rotate, the original crowd dissipates, and then another crowd takes over.
"You're kinda scared, but you go down there and you get your baptism."
Kitty Diggins, hostess: My earliest memory of going there was probably '84 or '85, and I was involved with a performance art troupe called the Bad Actors – the first ones to perform at Satyricon. I remember going in there for Poetry Night, and it was sort like a big deal because we were all were hearing about this place that was opening up. It's kind of hard to imagine with the way things are now – there are so many clubs here – but, at that time, it was a really big deal that this place was opening up and gonna have punk rock bands and poets and various characters connected with the Gus Van Sant scene who were kind of like old, gay beatniks and drug addicts. I mean, it was a very weird scene, just like this dirty club. It was that whole thing of, like, when you're really young, and you're going to check out some place that's supposed to be really cool. You're kinda scared, but you go down there and you get your baptism.
Sam: George was really cool about giving money to artists who made his calendars. Walt Curtis would always come in and have a poetry night. Sundays would be cabaret, Melissa the bartender who was there from day one until George quit, she would have a cabaret night where there would be like plays, poetry readings, dancing or whatever. Mondays was always for new bands. Fred and Toody of Dead Moon would always play Thursday nights, but they couldn't get an audience until they went Europe. And then there was a lot of rivalry, which was too bad because George put all this stuff out there and said, "You guys do whatever you want". He would give everybody an outlet.
Erika Meyer: Satyricon was not just about music, but it was poetry, music, theater, writing and art. "A free stage for all" is what George called it – to which anyone with energy and creativity could contribute.
Walt: There had been poetry readings at other venues, and you could get free publicity in the Willamette Week and other newspapers, so George gave us a venue to read our poetry once a week. For him, it was a freebie in the newspapers, and it was a way to bring in the literary and arts community. This notion of having a bar that had writers and poets and artists really was a lot of free publicity, but it also made the bar interesting. It was a different kind of thing than just a standard rock'n'roll bar.
Dave: A lot of the club was who was there. It was a family-like atmosphere. There was a sense of ownership – that was our place, y'know? It was a family-like atmosphere. The club was what made Portland a tolerable place to live. Before the Blue Gallery, it was a one-horse town. Anything relevant or good that was coming out of Portland came from Satyricon. It was one of those things where, the decade it was, the city it was, the time it was, it just converged.
"It was the CBGBs of the west coast."
Mark Ruibal: Satyricon was the ground floor level of getting into the music scene, especially if you were in any punk rock scene. It was home for a lot of us, we spent a lot of time hanging out there, a lot of great friendships were developed there, great networking opportunities.
Todd: You got to see great bands like Hazel and Pond and Sean Croghan and Eliott Smith and Heatmiser. It was one of the few places that a small independent band could play at the time. It was an awesome time back then – Gern Blanston, Nervous Christians, Iommi Stubs, Apartment 3G, Poison Idea, Napalm Beach.
Sam: Kat Bjelland lived here before she started Babes in Toyland, she was in a band with Courtney Love. Yeah, saved Kat's fuckin' life in the bathroom of Satyricon – she od'd. Courtney would come around, she was a spoiled little brat, still is.
Dave: The Oily Bloodmen were playing the night that Kurt Cobain met Courtney Love, and I was playing. I noticed Courtney, she's kinda hard to miss, but I did not notice Kurt that night.
Tres: Satyricon was the most important club on the west coast for a chunk of time, from the late 80's through the mid 90's. Everybody wanted to play there, it was the CBGBs of the west coast.
Todd: The equipment was all very... almost second-hand, not everything was ordered from a manufacturer. A lot of it was pieced together, repurposed and y'know, fast, loud and cheap. That enabled the music scene to really grow. Good quality sound in smaller venues. It seems like before that everything was really high volume and tinny and almost painful. Things were getting to the point where musicians could get better control and have decent sound volume and hear themselves. Around '92, George had Tom Robinson design a sound system that would fly up along the lighting truss, above the stage. Not many places had such a setup, not for a club of that size.
Mark: If the sound company and the lighting company and the bar have enough money – the club knows they can be a little riskier – you get some more experimental stuff. That's why I tended to gravitate toward Monday nights and the Sunday cabarets because they were making enough during the rest of the week so they could just open it up and do things that were a little more spontaneous and true. I think that's why there is ultimately this Satyricon vs. the world mentality about music ... because things are true and they're real and they come from a real experience.
"It's like a slot machine, you pull the arm down and it comes up three needles."
Jasin: I'd go there and hang out with people who had pitchers of beer and have a glass here and there, and spare change until I could afford a souvlaki. And, once I had $3.75, I would go down to the Satyricon, get drunk, see a show, and get fed. That was the life.
Sam: It was just a cool place – it had a stage that nobody used, nobody went in there at night. I ended up working at Satyricon as a janitor. Someone who didn't go there described it to me once: "Oh, you go to Satyricon? I feel like if I'd walk through the door it's like a slot machine, you pull the arm down and it comes up three needles, and I don't wanna go in there."
Chris Newman, Napalm Beach: The average tourist thought it was somewhere you were gonna get raped and murdered, but it was really actually a friendly little family clubhouse atmosphere. The little Asian market next door that got blown up, you could get a little brown bag...
Dave: It was called the brown bag, you walk in and you get your little alcohol swipe, spoon, your needle and a Q-Tip.
Sam: After they burnt it down, the guy that ran that place would be in his gold Cadillac in the parking lot. He had syringes, condoms, candy bars and cigarettes. They tried every way to keep that corner drug enabling.
Chris: I remember going into the club one night and the cops came up to me and said something like, "We know what's going on in here, and we're gonna shut it down." They didn't like us. They tried for years – big business, realty moved in, and it's gonna be torn down.
Sam: George always had trouble with the cops because they had the souvlaki stand, and there was always a huge line at the window because the hispanics were selling drugs out there and every time a cop car would come by, they would stand in line like they are all proper, buying souvlakis. That whole side walk was like a drug haven. You could buy anything you wanted any time, it was 24 hour drug traffic up and down 6th Avenue. The city didn't like it. That's why George always had trouble with the police. The space on the corner next to Satyricon, Club 101, burned down one night. The police had taped off the sidewalk around that building and they were arresting people for walking on that street. So the building burns down mysteriously, perfectly, just becomes a vacant lot.
"I'll give you three souvlaki, a pitcher of beer and fuck you!"
Mark: It is pretty much the reason the Portland music scene is what it is today, because there was so much creative energy back in the early 90's that was a springboard for the rest of the music scene here and it brought national attention, and now people wanna move to Portland. Without Satyricon, I don't think that would've been.
Todd: The Mayor's Ball helped solidify things, bands that had played Satyricon really got a lot more hype because they came out of the incubator of Satyricon but were able to get into a huge space, decent new coverage, a lot more A & R attention. I think in a lot of ways that's what really prompted the growth.
Sam: The club was local bands, for the city of Portland's musicians and artists. George would have a touring band come in on the weekends, but Napalm Beach or Poison Idea or some of the bigger bands in town would always headline those nights and then the touring bands would open and be support for the local bands. It was a really cool idea. That doesn't really happen that much anymore in town. Big bands would come into town with riders, we need this, we need that ... George was always, "I'll give you three souvlaki, a pitcher of beer and fuck you!"
Fernando Viciconte, songwriter: We'd be up there in the Crow's Nest, and we would have Mario, God rest his soul, coming up the stairs: "Hey, what's going on up here?" And Mario would stay up there. He wouldn't even be listening to the band, there would be no mixing going on. If he knew we were up in the Crow's Nest, the band would not get mixed, let's put it that way. The Crow's Nest was the best place in the house to kick back. A lot of fun was had in that little Crow's Nest for many, many folks.
Sam: The Crow's Nest was just a little attic, it was for video and storage, basically to do drugs. A lotta crazy shit happened up there. There was a guy who was a janitor there, his name was Dave but everybody called him Div, he was kinda slow. He slept up in the Crow's Nest, he lived there, he worked there. He went crazy because he was eating raw souvlaki meat.
"I can't believe the fires I've had in that building."
Tres: The very first thing I did onstage ever was have Victoria Porter - drummer in Karaoke from Hell now, but she was in Frances Farmer Gals, been around forever – play Wipeout on my stomach. I'm not a very talented guy, really, I can't really do much onstage, I don't play anything, so I thought I could offer up my stomach for people to play Wipeout on.
After I saw Sam Henry drum that same show, I has this great fantasy of having Andrew Loomis, Sam Henry, the guy from the Jackals, Robert, and Vic play Wipeout on my stomach simultaneously, that's how I was gonna tout myself. Sam didn't show up, Vic and Andrew ended up doing it, and I had huge mark – it totally fucks your stomach up, it hurts. That's the very first thing I ever did onstage and I really think it served as a springboard into whatever the fuck I've done.
Jasin: Any kind of live performance, Satyricon was a magnet. Cabaret's always been a kind of catch-all thing, it was a place where you could have the happiest, most ridiculous nitrous oxide performance art and then the next week it would be the doomiest, we're all gonna commit public suicide sort of event, and it all was sort of okay. Satyricon was equipped, culturally, to handle all facets of our bipolar disorders. I always relished that about Satyricon. It was always anything goes up to the point of legality. I can't believe the fires I've had in that building for shows, public nudity, public sex.
Tres: Cabaret at the Satyricon was special – it was Sunday night and you had to bring your A game.
Kitty: Performance groups started performing there, and usually we were booked up with people who had nothing to do with what we were doing. And the kind of stuff that we were doing was pretty outrageous. We were always trying to create mayhem in some way. I mean, we almost set the club on fire at one point, but the great thing was that we didn't get in trouble. One of the guys who worked there came and put out the fire, and George loved it. I was doing this performance with Dean, who was part of the Bad Actors – he was laid on a gurney and he was dressed up like a pig, and there was some sort of political statement involved, I don't remember what it was, it was about gluttony or something like that. That time in my life is kind of a blur.
We had the gurney wrapped up in plastic because it was gonna get messy. I stuck an apple in Dean's mouth and was basically using him as a sort of like a fire pit or bar-b-que for various food items. And the culmination was that I poured lighter fluid all over him and lit him on fire, and the plastic caught on fire, and he just laid there totally burning up. When it started getting out of control, whoever it was who was working there helped put it out, and we just kept going. Later on, George was like, "That was fantastic". So we always had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted to do. I think it was the first time that the first time that the club was almost set on fire. But not the last.
Sam: There was actually a fake fire exit door at Satyricon, yes. It went into a closet.
"Hate so strong in your blood; like you could oppress a thousand people."
Walt: The poets and artists never brought in a lot of money, but they gave a lot of attention to that bar. For example, in 1983, when Gus Van Sant was filming Mala Noche, we had a scene set in the bar. The arts could really publicize a bar and give it a lot of credibility. That was the idea in the beginning, to use the artists and poets and writers to have a bohemian spirit in the bar.
Sam: I was the technical advisor for Drugstore Cowboy. We would have afterparties at Satyricon, Matt and Gus would be there. Gus came in as I was fixing in my station in the stall of the urinals, he's got a clipboard, and, this guy, I didn't even know it was Matt Dillon, he goes, "I'm gonna be doing this movie. I'm gonna buy us some drinks at Hung Far Low's. You up for that?" And I go, "Suuure". So, I'm talking to this guy, we're sitting at Hung Far Low's, there are all these questions about drug paraphernalia, about how to do this and how to do that, and I go, "So who's the star of this movie?" And he goes, "Matt, Matt Dillon here." Oh! No wonder everybody's fuckin' crowded around our table. So, Matt liked me because I wasn't starstruck, I'm just fucking blind.
Fernando: The first time I ever performed at Satyricon was for one of those Sunday cabarets, and the the theme this particular night was porn. There was like 12 TV sets on stage playing porn, we were passing around some mushroom tea the whole night, and, by the time it was my turn to play, I was feelin' it pretty good. And I didn't wanna be outdone by any of the porno that was behind me. SO, I picked up the guitar – by this point in the night there was like three strings left, it's going through like a small, shitty Peavey amp – and, so, I get up on stage and start playing some song and was like, "This isn't feeling good", so, I just take off my pants and play with my balls on the chair. I played three songs naked in front of mushroomed folks. That was my first experience at that club. I'd been in town a week.
Jasin: The Drag races were all about rock stars dressing up in their girlfriends' clothes. For awhile the city would tolerate it – we would all get out of the way, the bus would come through – we're talking like 3 or 4 hundred people on the street. After like 6 of those the city finally put their foot down.
Tres: The Kurtz Project, we always took acid before we played, and we rented this strobe light from Hollywood Lights that was from an aircraft carrier, people would be blinded. I mean, it landed planes. We'd just be in graduation gowns and pumpkins and have go go girls and all this shit. I was the first DJ that ever played Satyricon, they always had live music, and Biff Raunchy's disco parties had the first DJ. So I was kind of the beginning of the end, really.
I had one turntable and no microphone. There was Rod Stewart tickets I gave away for best dancing, there was a macramÃ© demonstration, fondue, there was a Farrah Fawcett poster, and I played nothing but 70's music that I got really obsessed by – because every generation sort of has a fascination with the things 20 years before them. George would toss me the keys when I did that disco shit. My whole thing was making it like a 7th grade dance ambience. Everybody gave me shit because there wasn't music in between. I just liked that there were pauses because that's what reminded me of like 7th grade awkwardness: slow dancing and trying to feel tits. I decorated with crepe paper and rented disco balls. I never had anybody trust me with keys to their place to do, y'know, whatever I fuckin' wanted.
Jasin: In '96, my band, Popewyrm, performance art heavy metal band, had set up a show with the Electric Hellfire Club and Dawn. We were there to set up, we were first of three, and our friends overheard Electric Hellfire Club's conversation about how they were planning on sabotaging our show, assaulting me, and we find out that they have this huge nazi skinhead following. Do we just pack up and go home? No, fuck this, fuck them. We had a little powwow, I try to confront the singer about the potential sabotage, he totally denied it, and I was like, "I use axes, butcher knives and chains onstage, you don't wanna come near me, I'm serious, don't fuck with us." And he just was like, "I don't know what you're talking about." So, the band had this little talk about the situation, and were unanimous: "Okay, we're playing on the floor, we're playing in fluorescent light, and we're doing it right now."
And, so, we all went down with this war mentality, and we played on the floor. And, first thing I did was pull an Electric Hellfire Club poster from the wall, tear it up, spit on it, all my friends were spitting on it on the floor. I had the power of GG in me that night. Hate so strong in your blood; like you could oppress a thousand people. I was challenging the audience: âC'mon, I thought this was all about hate? It looks more like a fashion show! You fuckin' pussies!â
Dragging people up to the front, plowing into the audience, I remember jumping off this ledge, it was a good 12 foot leap, and I fell into all this broken glass, cuts all over me, I'm bleeding. Mike Martinez, during one of our songs, walks up to the front and throws another Hellfire Club poster on the floor knowing – he made me walk the plank – that I had a propensity to vomit every once in a while. So he threw this poster down at my feet, basically saying: "Yeah, do it." And I puked on their poster. It was one of the most insane nights of my life. Later on, there was a huge nazi riot, it was chaos, we were lucky to just load out and leave.
"Fuck you, it's my club."
Kitty: There was all this hoo-ha about various city officials trying to shut the club down, and, of course, there's the infamous story of Rocky Balada incident. There was a period of, like, three years where the club was in danger of being shut down, there were a lot of legal battles and it became very political.
Sam: They had the big riot in there when the police came in with the riot squad during a Sweaty Nipples show. I was there because I was picking up my drums from a show we played the night before. It was really crowded, and, before I got outside the door, there were these cops with billy clubs, whacking Johnny over the head.
Dave: It wasn't like Rocky wasn't a fixture already before that, and it wasn't that people weren't already keeping their eye out for Rocky and his antics. But they wanted that whole street shut down. It was a drug dealing capital. But that was just Old Town. Once John was hurt, then, it became, "If we don't go after them legally, then they're gonna come after us".
Sam: What happened was, one night George is having a good time at his establishment, goes around the corner and takes a piss on the side of the building. This cop comes and says "What are you doing?" George says, "Fuck you, it's my club". And the undercover cop didn't like that, so he brings a whole SWAT team down and they start beating up people and arresting everybody who worked the door. Taki went to jail, they just arrested the whole place, they wanted to get rid of Satyricon, they thought, "Oh, we're gonna get rid of this dive dirtbag place forever." But George takes it to court. And he wins!
Tres: The riot, how great was it that they actually stayed open and moved to Dmitri's? They missed, like, maybe, a night – and that was a big deal that they were closed fuckin' down for a night! Rocky Balada, as an aside, sued the police force for the right to wear an earring, all during the same time.
"It was fertile fuckin' soil, is what it was."
Walt: The most exciting thing is the spirit of George the Greek. I don't think Satyricon started out as a commercial venture. It started out as a free zone. There were other people later on like Jacob and Arnold Pander, and there was Fellini's, which was a nice little cafe scene with artwork. There was always artwork on the walls. George always appreciated the free spirit of artists.
Tres: What I really respected about Satyricon was that George was always there at 10 AM, he did everything, and he was just about beauty and the Greek way. George booked it 7 nights a week. There wasn't a dark night. That was my model of a club. It filled a niche. A lot of important bands played there. I will always love George. I can't stress this enough – the Greeks in this town really fucking run it – they understand art, they understand beauty, they understand that shit.
Walt: I came to Skid Row in the late '60s and worked with the Greeks a lot. There was the Grecian Garden. The Paris Theater was owned by the Greeks. They ruled that part of Portland. The Greeks came in early, and they had a democratic way of treating people. They like to get along with people. They don't make any judgments on people as long as long as you have fun and pay your bill. The spirit of the Greeks is to let people opt in: let's be free spirited, let's have a good time, no judgments, we don't care if you're a lesbian or whatever the hell you are. It's their spirit that I remember about Satyricon: to go against established, mainstream culture. They're independent-minded. They're gonna make money, but they respect people and individuality
Dave: The thing about Satyricon that was so good was that on any given night that you went there, there would be four bands on the bill and you never knew what you were gonna get. Each band would sound completely different from the last one, so obviously in an atmosphere like that, sooner or later, you were gonna come up with good, original music. It was fertile fuckin' soil, is what it was. You got some stinkweed growing out of that, and you also got some roses, know what I mean? It's like something out of a movie – you walk into a bar and it's like the cultural epicenter of the city, I mean that's not present in Portland today.
"I became Seantos dancing in a chickenwire cage..."
Jeffrey Wonderful: POW started as a one tribute show promoted by Vinnie Cleanhands, a bartender at Satyricon. It was a core of real wrestlers and theatrical, satirical wrestlers. The primary crux of the tension within the group was this pro wrestler faction where the guys were gonna be kicking ass and taking names, and taking all this shit seriously, taking a body slam, setting someone on fire, someone getting hurt. I had my first match wrestling Ernest Truely in 2001. There was always that feeling, that sense of adrenalin at the shows. There's nothing like settling your score on stage in front of hundreds of people. One of my favorite characters was Jazz Odyssey. It's a hysterical thing to me to be the most effeminate, masculine wrestler there is. The Rev Brother Ray was a New Age spiritual who could kill anybody. I liked the dichotomy, the juxtaposition, and that's where I got my kicks. Other people wanted story lines, and that was their kick. Or Angelo, who just wanted to say "Fuck it all" and hurl 50 pounds of entrails and gallons of blood at a crowd. Each person had their agenda.
Seantos: I became Seantos dancing in a chickenwire cage with this band from Eugene, Billyjack. I was not into Mexican wrestling yet, but then I got some films. This was like '90, '91, and so, like, all of a sudden, we had a show opening up for the Dickies in Springfield – this was when Springfield had their anti-gay law. I came up here to American Showcase in Portland (because that was the only place you could get good Spandex) and talked to the guy who designed Tonya Harding's clothes. Then, I decided I didn't wanna wear the mask anymore so, when I did POW, I just went as my personalized character/porn sleaze merchant and just worked the microphone and acted really cocky.
Jeffrey: "The Real Seantos" was Angelo dressed in a sweatsuit and Seantos' glasses that he had stole from his room. It was hysterical, a bunch of bellyrolls everywhere, which is Seantos' signature move.
Seantos: Two weeks before the 4th of July, Angelo comes up to me, and he's like, âI'm wrestling you in a championship match.â I'm already wrestling Elvis, this huge smellbum, and Harvey Hardcock, totally naked, so I had to wrestle a naked man, but he was a sweetheart. I decided to fuck with Angelo. He'd been like, âBe careful about my knee, it's a little gimpyâ and had the stupidest, gayest costume ever. I immediately lifted him up and put him over my knee. He gets up and does one huge like spiderman thing and kicks me in the chest and knocks me down. It was one of the most insane matches. There's broken glass, Angelo was just on top of me like a little fuckin' goddamn spider monkey, I'm getting hit with fireworks, and I'm wearing white polyester pants with no underwear ... why I thought that was a good idea, I do not know.
Jeffrey: Portland Organic Wrestling was the contemporary theater community of Portland, on the grassroots level. That's what is was at Satyricon in 2002. The people are still going strong, and still have dreams. Y'know, people were sick of their band or they're just out of rehab or they just graduated from college or whatever it was at the time, and theater was much easier to be a part of than, say, a band. That was the launching pad. I don't think anybody wanted another new band night on a Wednesday. It was just kinda overdone. And it was just kind of something so absurd that Satyricon was the only place in town that could really do it. And, it wasn't so much plotted or thought out. It was just Vinnie Cleanhands and an empty Wednesday night.
Seantos: With POW, there was like 500 hundred people there that hate me and love me, and I wanted some cash. I got paid, like, twice. That was the only night that Satyricon had goin' on.
Tres: The POW guys were really were the last of the cool shit.
Jeffrey: At a certain point, we were kind of reaching a critical mass. We were in the news because we were pushing the laws about pro wrestling, and pro matches couldn't happen unless they were state sanctioned events. And, so, the state commissioner came to one of our shows, and Harvey Hardcock wrestled, we called the commissioner out of the audience ... there's some really great footage of him blushing. Then, we reached a media frenzy in which this guy named Darcy – he was part of the real wrestlers' hardcore faction – killed a rabbit and took photographs to promote his wrestling character. And they found the photos at Walgreen's. It was on CNN, it was everywhere, it was this horrible animal rights thing and just disgustingly retarded. Fortunately, he was the douchebag of the group, but, natural consequences, everybody else kind of moved on, and that was right when everything started going downhill.
"Who let these college kids in?"
Dave: 1999, 2000, it had lost some of the magic, but it was still a good place to go even in the later years. A new band could get a gig there. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but I think what Satyricon has become is like a YMCA. It's like a place for the house show scene, grassroots punk rock, it seems to be that sort of place now. I mean, it's changed hands, it belongs to a new generation. At Satyricon, when I was there, on any given night, you had for instance Mark Sten, he'd seen the Rolling Stones when he was a kid, you had Walt Curtis, you had guys in there with gray hair, it was a mulitgenerational kind of nightclub.
Sam: The late '90s was kind of the end of it – I remember that everybody that worked there, the longtime doorguys, Bruno, Bird Dog, Don, everybody was going to jail or having to struggle with cases. When they got the liquor license, it just kind of changed the whole crowd, and everybody just kind of disappeared and said, okay, I need to grow up or I need to fuckin' die or I'm in jail or I need to get a wife or I have a kid. I went to jail, and the only people who wrote me or sent me money were everybody who worked at Satyricon. When they got the liquor license, it kind of changed the whole vibe of the place. The original crowd didn't like it: "This is our place. Who let these college kids in?"
Todd: I haven't even been back to Satyricon since George left, it just doesn't appeal to me anymore, it's kinda lost its luster.
Tres: There's definitely a time when it was the Icon. I went to the opening just to see what they would fuck up, and, not only did they fuck it up, they really fucked it up. And, then, slowly but surely, it just became an aging punk rock club again.
"There's nothing fucking weird about this place anymore."
Chris: It's kind of turned into an all ages venue that caters to kids more.
Dave: I think Satyricon now is a place for 18 to 22 year olds. The new Satyricon, don't get me wrong, I think it's punk, I just don't think it has that bohemian crossection of everybody.
Jasin: There's a diversity there, though. They're still doing a lot of the similar stuff where they have the new band nights, the kind of catch-all, anything-goes bands. Within the modern constructs of punk and hardcore, there's all these different genres. I think it's shitty to be taking a shit on all the people who have been keeping the place alive for the past four years. It's a perfectly legitimate scene.
Tres: I was in there there weeks ago, I kind of pop in there. It's like a punk rock place now, whatever you wanna call punk rock. It was cool, man, they were packed with cool fuckin' kids having a good fuckin' time. Which is exactly what it has always been.
Kitty: Satyricon opened up at a time when Portland was not a place to be. It was a place you wanted to get out of, it was like a dead end. At that time, if a band came to Portland to perform, they usually would play at Satyricon, and they couldn't wait to get the hell out of here.
Portland wasn't a place where anybody wanted to stick around, there was nothing here. The economy was dead. It was a culturally dead place. Truly, at that time, you had to be very resourceful and truly weird. That's one problem I have nowadays with the whole slogan of "Keep Portland Weird", because there's nothing fucking weird about this place anymore. It's a very safe place to raise your kids and have a house and just be a normal person.
But, during the 80s on up to maybe '91, Portland was a weird place. There were a lot of artists and bands, there were a lot of interesting noise bands that were doing stuff that was totally weird. They were not trying to be cool, they didn't care about being cool, they didn't care about being signed or anything like that. They were just a bunch of fuckin' weirdos and dorks and geeks that were creating strange music and strange performances. I don't see that happening at this point. I always hope that it will happen again.