My name is Laura Hudson, and I'm a karaoke addict. I'm also the editor-in-chief of ComicsAlliance, the largest U.S. comic book website, but for our purposes the more important point is that I'm a Portland resident who usually goes out to sing karaoke around 3-5 nights a week, behavior that has been generously referred to as "very enthusiastic," and less generously referred to as "a borderline mental illness."

Despite the possibly half-serious jokes by my friends about holding some sort of intervention, the kind editors of the Mercury, in their infinite and addiction-enabling wisdom, have recruited me to turn my obsession into something productive or at least entertaining: a 7-day karaoke marathon where I visit one to two different karaoke hotspots around Portland every night for an entire week until I either complete the marathon or die, and report my experiences back to you.

The karaoke odyssey began tonight at 9 PM at the strip club Devil's Point with Stripparoke, which is exactly what it sounds like: strippers stripping while you sing karaoke. Here's the current schedule:

Sunday: Stripparoke at Devil's Point 9 PM / Stage 2: Alibi
Monday: Karaoke from Hell at Dante's 10 PM
Tuesday: Baby Ketten Karaoke at Mississippi Pizza 9 PM
Wednesday: Boiler Room 9 PM / Stage 2: Beauty Bar
Thursday: Ambassador, Midnight
Friday: Chopsticks II 8:30 PM / Stage 2: BC's
Saturday: Hollywood Bowl 9 PM

Where I am generally to be found
  • In my natural habitat
To be clear, I didn't start out this way. I'm not a born performer; I don't have the voice of a goddess, and aside from church hymns and campfire sing-a-longs, I'd almost never sung in public until I was well into my 20s.

My first karaoke experience was how I imagine most people's karaoke experiences are: not very good. I got up in front of a room of disinterested middle-aged patrons at a townie dive bar, hands shaking uncontrollably, and attempted to sing Billy Joel's "Piano Man," a song that for the record is much, much longer than you remember before you are standing on stage with a mic. My seemingly interminable performance was met with the faint smattering of claps usually reserved for golf events, and I sat back down flooded with a feeling of shame and relief. For years, I would look back on karaoke with the sort of regret usually reserved for ex-boyfriends, yet another entry on a list of slightly stupid things I'd done while I was drunk.

But as much I understand why a lot of people don't like it — because hell, I didn't either — what started as something between a dare and a one night stand I desperately wanted to erase from my memory somehow transformed over the last five or six years into a passionate, full-blown love affair, or maybe — if I'm honest — even a committed relationship.

Case in point: Today marks the first day of my marathon, but rather than resting up for a non-stop week of seriously intense karaoke evenings on top of my day job, I accidentally went out to karaoke for all five nights leading up to it. Math enthusiasts will note that this actually makes it a 12-day karaoke marathon. So there's your 12-step program, would-be interventionists.

Most of the time I couldn't tell you how I got from here to there, or why it means as much to me as it does, but I'm hoping by the time the week is done, I'll have a better idea. Some people will tell you that the best way to understand something is to take it apart to see how it works, to see where the teeth of the gears turn into each other. I say it's a lot more interesting to see what happens if you push something so far beyond its limits that it practically lights on fire, and then see what it leaves behind.

The fun begins tonight, so free to either stop by the Karaoke-a-thon with your friends if you want to ride the ride, or just sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude each day on Blogtown as I spiral into deeper and deeper levels of exhaustion and karaoke madness.

I'm also taking song suggestions, so if you have any inspired ideas for tunes I should hit on my great journey through the karaoke wilderness, leave them in the comments!

Tomorrow night: Karaoke from Hell. Rise to the challenge and sing live on stage with a real band backing you!