Initially mourned as a beloved sleazy legend on social media, Fat Cobra Adult Video’s March 8 closure signaled the first of many changes for Portland’s LGBTQ+ community.
Fat Cobra, located at 5940 N Interstate, drew attention for its adult arcade (the Mercury reported in 2005 that it had Portland’s fattest glory holes) its phone number, 503-247-DICK, and its close proximity to Ockley Green Middle School. For Fat Cobra’s business owner Pat Lanagan—who, until recently, owned the Lombard gay bar Eagle and the Lloyd-area Sullivan’s Gulch Bar & Grill—didn’t make the decision to close lightly. Lanagan closed his businesses due to personal health and economic factors. Lanagan closed the Sullivan’s Gulch Bar & Grill and Eagle around the same time as Fat Cobra.
Lanagan opened Fat Cobra 15 years ago, its name a reference to the 2003 remake of The In-Laws that he watched with his children. His son, Wade, was a bartender at Sullivan’s Gulch. In a phone conversation, Lanagan said he was diagnosed several years ago with degenerative arthritis, and had blown out two spinal disks after a 2015 car accident. When he underwent disk replacement surgery in early December 2018, he contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which went undiagnosed until late January. During this time, Lanagan celebrated his 60th birthday.
Lanagan is being treated for GBS, but still experiences chronic GBS symptoms, like fatigue and muscle weakness.
“When I made the decision to retire, there was no choice,” he said.
Lanagan said Fat Cobra’s business was declining for several years, part of an industry-wide trend attributed to the rise of gay hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff. But Lanagan said that ultimately, Fat Cobra closed due to the lack of expected tax return money Fat Cobra has relied on for several years —for which, he blames the Trump Administration.
Lanagan sold Sullivan’s Gulch to Tod Bresleau —best known as an owner of the Jupiter Hotel —while Eagle was sold to former manager Dan Henderson. Lanagan still owns the Fat Cobra space, and says it may soon be leased by Disjecta Contemporary Art Center founder Bryan Suereth, who may turn it into a new arts space. Suereth did not return Portland Mercury’s request for comment.
“I’ve had a good enough run,” Lanagan said of his three businesses, “it’s time for me to recover and for someone else to run them.”
Members of Portland's longtime LGBTQ+ community are sad to see Fat Cobra close. Pepper Pepper —a prolific Portland performance artist and drag queen who uses they/them pronouns —fondly recalled getting kicked out of Fat Cobra’s arcade about 12 years ago for staging an unauthorized art photoshoot in the arcade space with Precious, a fellow member of the gender terrorist drag troupe, Sissyboy.
“If we lived in a world where queer affection wasn't demonized, we wouldn't need dark seedy places like [Fat Cobra],” Pepper wrote in an email, “Any time a liminal space for queer sexuality to express itself disappears, it is a loss.”