How To Bet on the Ponies

When Portland Meadows opens on Saturday for the horse-racing season, I recommend not betting your life savings on the long shots. Placing large bets on three-legged, blind horses may be exciting, but these long-shot winners are few and far between. Instead, I recommend betting conservatively. For $20, you can easily spend an entire evening gambling, drinking, and yelling at Portland Meadows. I rarely leave with my billfold much fatter than when I arrived, but I usually break even, including winning enough to cover my beer and pretzels.

First, you need to learn to speak the language of track. "Win" is first place only. However, if you predict your horse will "place," that means the horse will take first or second. Such bets don't pay out as well, but it's much more likely you won't lose your entire bet. "Show" means the horse finishes in the top three.

To make a bet, slap your money down on the betting counter (minimum bet is $2) and announce your intentions to the Portland Meadow employee--commonly, an old grouchy lady. First, say the bet's amount; next, the type of bet; and finally, the horse's number. For example: "$4 to show on #2."

More sophisticated betting includes a "trifecta"--predicting all three top finishes in precise order. It costs at least $6 but could pay off huge! Paying off less, but still tempting, is a $4 "box"--choose the top two horses; it doesn't matter which nag finishes first or second.

It's important to recognize that Portland Meadows is not the Kentucky Derby. It's fun, in-your-face racing, but the caliber of horses are a few rungs lower. This means the horses are far less predictable, and it's better to bet on the jockeys. Usually the same jockeys win races at Portland Meadows.

Also, don't pick a horse by its name, no matter how charming or funny it is. In the far right column of the "run sheets" (available for $2 at the betting counter), you will see how the horses performed in their latest races. "Pinballed," "reared in gate," "stopped": Those are red flags!

On the other hand, even if the horse didn't win his last race, but it says "charged" or "gaining," now there's a horse with stamina. With a good rider, this horse is a sure thing. PB

Portland Meadows, Exit 306B off I-5, 285-9144, Friday 7 pm, Saturday 2:30 pm, Monday 2:30 p

Hair Cutter's Ball

Hair shows are freaking fantastic! They're all about free samples, funky hairdos, and, in the case of the Hair Cutter's Ball, fashion, music, and competition. Begin your evening with a graze through the booths of stylists and product hawkers, where you can ask important questions like, "Do I really have the face for heart-shaped bangs?" and finally get some real answers! Then get ready for the "Iron Scissors Cut-Off," where stylists will compete in a timed contest to see who can crop the cutest coif in 45 minutes flat! The models will then parade their new speed styles while judges decide who looks the flyest and who gets the cash money prize.

As if that's not enough to get your vain ass foaming at the mouth, this will be followed by another, grander fashion show featuring locally designed outfits and the handiwork of PDX stylists. DJ Rob Uptight will be on two turntables while all of this occurs, and Abner from the Red Light will MC. After everyone's reached a pitch of all-out giddiness, Jackie will take over the stage, and everybody who's anybody fully adores those slim, well-heeled fellows and their dance 'til-you-fall-down spazzy glam rock. It's enough to make you faint! MARJORIE SKINNER

Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, 225-5555 ext. 8811, Friday, Oct 17, 7 pm, $10-12 (discount w/stylist license)

Hairy Mary!

Joe Gage wasn't interested in hairless man-beasts drowning in pools of their own narcissism. His intent as a gay porn director was to show big, hairy, working-class men with insatiable urges getting it on with other big hairy insatiable men. His first films, made in the late '70s, showcased his desire to make porn with plot, an art that has long since ceased to exist with the advent of VCRs and, more specifically, the fast-forward button. Gage's most famous porn films, Kansas City Trucking Co., El Paso Wrecking Corp., and L.A. Tool & Die, were hugely successful gay porn films intended to be shown in theaters to audiences of horny gay men. As part of the closing weekend of the LGFF, the last two installments of his working-man trilogy will be shown as they were meant to be seen. Gage will even be in attendance to shed light on the "ins and outs" of directing big hairy Marys. So if you've ever wanted to make out at Cinema 21, here's your chance. BRIAN BRAIT

Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st Ave, 223-4515. El Paso Wrecking Corp., Fri Oct 17, 11pm, $8; L.A. Tool & Die, Sat Oct 18, 11pm, $8