It's not that I was nervous about spending the night trolling gay bars—I just hate feeling like a tourist, and there's nothing worse than being a heterosexual tourist. So, by the time I met my gay sherpa—who pledged to show me the ins and outs of the strip of SW Stark known as Vaseline Alley—at Scandal's (1125 SW Stark) I already had a few in me.
Our first stop was a pleasant one—maybe too pleasant. Scandal's interior is painted red, with a full wall of windows that let in gobs of evening light and allowed my companion and I to gawk at the depressingly small handful of passersby. The drinks were cheap enough ($2 PBRs, $4 well drinks), but the open, airy, niceness of it all made me feel more like I was in a slightly gayer version of the Pottery Barn—what with all the well-dressed, middle-aged men and none of the ass-pounding porn and bad disco I was hoping for.
Luckily, our next stop—The Eagle (1300 W Burnside)—offered all the gay this mostly straight man could want. The dimly lit, two-floor space had it all—man-on-man porn that looked like it came from a bootleg of a bootleg, a hysterically large can of Crisco hanging above the bar, and a relatively private iron cage that offered my sherpa and I a place to chat. I downed a $2 mason jar filled with Miller High Life (despite full bars everywhere we went, I decided to stick with cheap beer most of the night) while we watched Eagle employees attempt to host a "Basket Contest" among the small group of bears and bear lovers milling around. At this point, I had enough booze in me that I was shouting for the afro'd dude in front of the stage to move aside so I could eye all the previously mentioned baskets on display, which were hard to see from my angle.
From there, we cruised past the half-filled Boxxes (1035 SW Stark), which was forearm-deep in karaoke. I may have been drunk enough to enjoy being pawed at by strange men, but no way in hell was I going to listen to some sad-sack sing Stevie Nicks.
Then our train happily pulled into its ultimate destination—the legendary Silverado (1217 SW Stark), all dark walls and disco lights and go-go dancers and tubs full of free Durex condoms in the bathroom. Sadly, the story gets a tad blurry from here. It may have been the whiskey and cokes I switched to, or the $1 tequila shots being handed to me by some newly acquired companions, but my ability to remember the rest of the night has turned into a sticky, gooey mess. The last thing I remember is someone asking me, "Are you sure I can't convert you?"