Wednesday, October 4, 2006

end of an embarassing gay landmark?

The PortlandTribune's columnist Phil Stanford reported last week that the building that houses the Club Portland bathhouse and the Silverado bar has been sold to a downtown developer, Greg Goodman. His plans for the building are not yet known. There were previous efforts to formally designate the area surrounding the triangular block as Portland's gay district, but the plan seems to have stalled years ago. Who knows if Goodman's plan will incorporate gay-oriented tenants.

I have to admit that I'm glad Club Portland may be closing (or at least moving). First, the building is simply an eye sore. The boarded-up windows, which Stanford explains were in response to a neighboring restaurant's complaints about "free shows", make the building and neighborhood look condemned. Secondly, if the area ever does become a gay district, it's inappropriate for the most prominent building to be an anonymous sex club -- especially as the fight for gay marriage/partnership continues.

Contrary to what George Michael proclaimed about the supposed gay lifestyle, anonymous sex is not the gay ideal -- at least what I and my gay friends think. While I'm sure there will probably always be a demand for bathhouses / sex clubs, I suspect/hope that they are becoming relics of the gay dark ages.

UPDATE: Just Out reports that Club Portland owner Dick Lawson confirms that an offer has been made on the building, but specifics are restricted to a confidentiality agreement. Lawson denies the Trib columnists claim that the building was sold to Goodman.

I should mention that one of my main interests in this story is that I live and work just a few blocks away, so I am interested in what happens to this property. Downtown Portland is in the midst of a condo conversion boom and Club Portland's block across from the Pearl District is an attractive location. I hope the new owner keeps and restores the old building.

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