The Silverado is the kind of skeezy 70s throwback fag bar that's disappearing, the kind you don't appreciate until it's gone. Rainbow flags on the walls, dark smoky room, gay porn on TV screens everyone's ignoring, shirtless bartender boys. Because it's Portland there's decent beer, but men visit for the go-go boys, not the drinking.

The dancers work hard. Shift change every fifteen minutes, one or two up on a center stage and one in a dark cage in the back. Nominally dressed in underwear (tight, clean, and today primary colours, not white), most of the dancing is about pulling down the shorts to show a V of groin muscle and below an excalamation mark, the root. They work for tips, $1 slid into the underwear buys you a quick feel. A couple of bucks rewards the whole crowd with an eyeful of full nudity, swinging twirling floppy motions.

Sadly, the Silverado has lost its lease. The old Stark gay ghetto in Portland is disappearing to heteroyuppification, led by the removal of the downtown Henry Weinhard's brewery and the subsequent development of the Pearl District. The gay bars down there were all pretty sleazy but they were a culture. Now they are dying.

I paid my respects at the Silverado and lasted through a whole Hefeweizen until the cigarette smoke got to me. As I was leaving a remarkable young man was doing an excellent job dancing, clearly enjoying sharing his significant natural assets with the appreciative crowd. $1 seems like a cheap tip but his enthusiasm was earning him a lot of them. I added to his basketful, thanked him, and then came home and washed my hands.

  2007-07-14 06:40 Z