Portland a haven for nude dancing

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. – “You got a customer. Better get one o’ those girls down here,” the cook tells the bartender.

It is 8 in the morning at the Acropolis, a bar featuring nude dancing. The bartender trudges upstairs to a room with a closed door.

“Knock knock,” he says. A chesty blonde descends to the bar’s main room, where she strips to “I Can See Clearly Now.” The dancing is basic; this is no Bolshoi.

The lone customer isn’t interested. He’s glued to a video poker game.

When Money magazine picked Portland as the best place in the nation to live, it mentioned the Rose City’s thriving downtown, bookstores, coffee shops and other badges of good, clean living. It likely didn’t take into account Portland’s burgeoning adult entertainment industry.

Oregon’s free-speech laws are the most permissive in the United States, so nude dancing in Portland has proliferated over the years.

The Rose City has about 50 nude-dancing or strip clubs. A Wall Street Journal survey found that Portland has more such establishments than Los Angeles, which has 21, or Houston, with 38.

The Oregon constitution states: “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject whatever.”

In 1987 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that Portland had no constitutional authority to demand that strippers wear G-strings.

So they don’t.

Some states don’t allow alcohol where there is nudity. But Oregon does.

What’s more, Oregon and Hawaii are the only states in the nation where adult-entertainment clubs cannot be controlled by zoning restrictions, said state Rep. Rob Patridge. The Medford Republican was behind a ballot measure, defeated last month, that would have given Oregon communities that right.

“There is no way to regulate any form of pornography under the Oregon constitution,” griped Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi. “Under the U.S. Constitution it’s extremely difficult; in Oregon it is impossible.”

Because of all the competition, Portland strip clubs are having to come up with gimmicks to stay in business.

A handful open in the morning. But that doesn’t always work, as was shown by the lone customer on a recent Wednesday morning at the Acropolis, which opens at 7 a.m., the earliest it can serve liquor.

“It’s really slow today,” lamented the bartender, who declined to give his name. “We’re going to do more advertising, radio and stuff.”

Things were busier down the street at Club Cabos, where they serve a bountiful $2.99 breakfast to people heading to work or to night-owls just getting off their shifts.

One strip club offers a free Sunday buffet. Another, Club 205, advertised a free Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another proffers a salad bar.

A joint called Wildcats is staging a pumpkin-pie-eating contest.

Exotic Magazine is among the local publications that try to drum up businesses for the strip clubs.

The magazine gushed over Wildcats and their dancers: “They’ll be serving up pie in the lap of your favorite Wildcats. Save room for desert.”

Good table dancers can earn $200-$300 a day in tips, even in the slack morning hours, and much more at night.

At Club Cabos, Lucia and Grace on the morning shift took turns grinding away on a stage surrounded by bar stools occupied by a few middle-age men.

Rays of early morning sunlight gleamed through the door as customers came and went. A few customers watched passively. Others studied their bacon and eggs.

Oregon lawmakers have tried and failed in the past to rein in strip clubs.

The latest attempt was Measure 87, which would have allowed local governments to use zoning to control the location of adult businesses.

Four new Portland clubs opened in the months before the Nov. 7 election.

“The increase was probably due to a fear that the ballot measure would pass and they wanted to be grandfathered in,” said Francesconi.

They needn’t have worried. The measure failed with a thud. Voters rejected it 52 percent to 48 percent.

Francesconi recently finished meetings with residents of the middle-class Hollywood district about how to bring in new businesses.

The first new business to move in as a result of those meetings was “one of these bars,” Francesconi lamented.

“I’ve run out of ideas and I’m moving on to other issues,” he said.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Members of South County Fire practice onboarding and offboarding a hovering Huey helicopter during an interagency disaster response training exercise at Arlington Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. The crews learned about and practiced safe entry and exit protocols with crew from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue before begin given a chance to do a live training. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish, King counties train together for region’s next disaster

Dozens of agencies worked with aviators Tuesday to coordinate a response to a simulated earthquake or tsunami.

Police stand along Linden Street next to orange cones marking pullet casings in a crime scene of a police involved shooting on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens man identified in Everett manhunt, deadly police shooting

Travis Hammons, 34, was killed by officers following a search for an armed wanted man in a north Everett neighborhood.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace eyes one-time projects for $2.4M in federal funds

Staff recommended $750,000 for a new roof and HVAC at the library, $250,000 toward a nonprofit facility in Lynnwood and more.

The Snohomish River turns along the edge of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To build a healthier Snohomish River, more log jams

About $2.8M in grants will help engineer log jams, tear down levees and promote salmon restoration at Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve.

Dave "Bronco" Erickson stands next to the pink-and-purple 1991 Subaru Justy hatchback “Pork Chop Express” car that he is seeking to re-home for $500. The car has been on Whidbey Island for years, mainly as yard art. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
For sale: Whidbey’s fabled ‘Pork Chop Express’ gets great smileage

Asking price is $500 for the 1991 Subaru Justy, a three-cylinder econobox with 65K miles and a transmission as rare as hen’s teeth.

Most Read