Like many, I have benefited from the humor and wisdom of Portland DJ and party producer Patrick Buckmaster. So when we report that they are dead, at 33, we report that the world has become a little more boring without them.

The cause of their death is not yet known, but according to the family, Buckmaster died in their home. They were found by a neighbor at around 11 pm on December 8.

Buckmaster wove an appreciation of drag, persona, music, and satire into what ultimately proved to be a community-building practice that left its traces across the city. If you've ever stood on the corner by Dante's, to grab a slice at Pizza Slut, that was her. She named it back when she was the DJ of Sinferno Cabaret. "Patrick was indeed THE Pizza Slut," the venue's owner, Frank Faillace, confirmed with the Mercury.

Buckmaster used gender pronouns interchangeably, and stories about her are frequently related with such fluidity. This piece will preserve that aspect of how they lived, and involve stories where friends switch between they, he, and she at different moments.

The Mercury profiled Buckmaster's humorous and irreverent parties in 2018, interviewing them and one of their party-planning collaborators Ann Pyne. At that time, the two were regularly producing several theme club nights in Portland, including femme dance party Compact, sincerely sardonic Sad Day, weirdness goth catch-all NecroNancy, and their crown jewel drag celebration Club Kai Kai.

The various nights had become a pathway to give burgeoning performers experience onstage. “It’s kind of my tester hierarchy,” Buckmaster explained. “You show up? Cool. I’ll book you for Sad Day. You do a good job? You do bad job? Whatever. I’ll book you for NecroNancy. You start really working at it, you can get to a Club Kai Kai.”

Related: Patrick Buckmaster and Ann Pyne Are Throwing Portland’s Drag Parties

Each themed party held its own mythology, and the respective nights appealed to different crowds. Portland's premiere drag clown Carla Rossi / Anthony Hudson told the Mercury that Buckmaster's events seemed like overlapping, but unique, worlds: "It's rare that a club night becomes heartfelt and sincere in a way that embodies a community. They really were building a family with their shows, and each show had its own family."

Through Carla Rossi / Anthony Hudson, the Mercury also learned that Sad Day was based on a mispronunciation of jazz-pop singer Sade. "That's just how creative they were. From Patrick hearing someone mispronounce Sade's name, you have an entire series of shows."


According to Buckmaster's mother, Cheri Buckmaster, creativity and intelligence were traits her child always possessed, along with a tendency towards trouble. "I remember his fourth grade teacher finally let him help teach the class, 'cause he was so bored," she said. "He was funny, he was irreverent, he didn't like discrimination, he took care of the underdogs."

Both Cheri and Buckmaster's father, Kevin, served in the Army, and the family lived in Italy for a stint, before they eventually settled in Springfield, Missouri. Cheri remembers a three-year-old Buckmaster being more fluent in Italian than she was.

Cheri doesn't remember an exact moment when Buckmaster came out as queer, but she said she knew he'd have to move from Missouri eventually. After Buckmaster moved to Portland with a group of friends, in 2011, the family remained close and visited annually.

"I knew that he liked it out here, and I knew that he liked what he did," she said. "I was surprised, when he died, at the outpouring of love and kind words. A lot of people have said 'I'm who I am because of him.'"

"Patrick was really good at finding the thing inside you that is so dumb, that only you can do, and encouraging it," Carla Rossi / Anthony Hudson told the Mercury. "I don't think that Carla would be half as stupid if it weren't for Patrick. Party promoters are garbage, club nights are awful, but Patrick really supported people. She could be so callous, so loud, so on drugs, so opinionated, so evasive, but at the end of the day she was 100 percent an advocate for artists." 


Drinking and drug use proved a common foil for Buckmaster, leading up to a 2019 intervention that club owner Brad McCray said stuck. 

McCray, who owns the downtown nightclubs Sanctuary and Candy, described a Halloween night intervention that kept those involved awake until sunrise. "He still smoked cigarettes and marijuana, but that changed his habits. He wasn't going out to every party necessarily—if he wasn't the one throwing it."

Cheri also mentioned her child's sobriety, saying: "[When we visited], we would have a drink, and he would have soda."

McCray met Buckmaster in 2016, and began hiring them as a DJ and party planner. Compact and Club Kai Kai both migrated to Sanctuary, and Buckmaster was still planning and producing sold-out events there, like the tongue-in-cheek orgies (eg. Barbie Orgy, Witchy Wizard Orgy), which played on Sanctuary's reputation as a home for fetish events. But the orgy parties were just dance nights, McCray explained. "He just liked the name." 

"With Patrick there were just endless ideas," McCray continued. "There's no one else like him, and I think everybody recognizes that. Lost amongst all of his glamor, he was actually really sweet. He mixed people together in unexpected ways. His only requirement was that something about you was interesting."


Memorial statements about Buckmaster continue to spill out from nightlife and art communities, building a portrait of a creative, supportive, fierce personality.

The artist Keeks, formerly known as Maarquii, told the Mercury that Buckmaster encouraged her to return to making music. "They knew about my music before I met them, and she just constantly put the bug in my ear. She was like: 'Yeah, girl, you're great at drag, but music is what you should be doing,'" Keeks said. At her first Sad Day performance Keeks incorporated a song into her act, and it happened that producing duo Derek Stilwell and Saint Michael Lorenzo of Jvnitor were also at the show. Keeks reflected that Buckmaster likely orchestrated the meeting, which led to a collaborative relationship between Keeks and Jvnitor. "I had kind of all, but given up on being a musician, for the moment, but she saw these talents in people, even if people weren't seeing it for themselves."

"Miss Buckmaster really was the head chaotic bitch in charge, and you never knew what to expect from her, but you knew it would gay, funny, and probably/hopefully inappropriate," event producer Katya wrote on social media. "Patrick was the person who made me know my dreams were not just possible but important."

"The night I moved into Portland, I was very sad," House of Ada's Sissy Ada wrote. "I just said goodbye to all of my friends in California, and I had no money or friends. I was looking around for things to do, and I saw that Buckmaster was presenting SAD DAY. I didn’t realize how much my life would change because of this one hilarious, complicated, shocking, gleeful, and ridiculously loving person."

"Patrick gave me so much, photographer and filmmaker Austin Mckee, told the Mercury. "I wouldn’t be where I am today, as a queer person and an artist, if it weren’t for him. He brought so many people together with the parties and events he threw. Most of my closest friends I met at these parties, and I still can’t believe he’s gone." 

"One time she made a show for me cause there was a number I wanted to do that I was told not to do at another show, 'cause it would 'make the audience uncomfortable,'" Destiny Smokez wrote. "She had to give me a platform to make this art that was so meaningful for me, and I am forever grateful for that, and she will always be in my thoughts and be a part of my drag."

Destiny Smokez also posted a clip of Buckmaster's DJ style, which involved cutting reads and stand-up style monologues. In the video, Buckmaster somberly says the names of women celebrities and politicians over Sarah McLachlan's "Angel." The gag is both obvious and esoteric, and it only gets funnier as she continues.

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A post shared by Destiny Smokez/UmBruh/Deity (@destinysmokez)

Buckmaster's reach was not limited to local performers. Tiffany Pollard—AKA New York on Flavor of Love—also posted a farewell, writing "I will sincerely remember our good times FOREVER ♾️ Our Taco 🌮 Bell trips, Our heart ❤️ to heart convos in your car."

Buckmaster's love of Taco Bell was an earnest running gag throughout her career, a fine example of the sincere satire of her humor. McCray noted that, of late, Buckmaster had come to prefer Panda Express, but her memorial service was catered with the Taco Bell in her memory, which was also a better fit for McCray's budget. In that spirit, we're closing with an excerpt from our 2018 profile that was cut for space. It was meant to be a fun box with Buckmaster's dream Taco Bell order:

“My go-to Taco Bell order is, first of all, on someone else's money. I want—it depends on what the item of the month is—I really have been loving the Naked Chicken Taco and the Naked Chicken Nachos. However, usually I'm going to get a Nacho BellGrande meal with the two tacos. I wanna sub the two tacos for Doritos® Cool Ranch® tacos. Make those Supreme®. I want a Mango Fiesta drink. Then I need two Cheesy Gordita Crunches. I need the shells in those subbed though for the Fiery Doritos® tacos. I need another Mango tea with that meal. Two Cheesy Bean and Rice burritos. And, like, sometimes I like to get the salad—to eat healthy.”