Mary's Club
129 SW Broadway

Last week was a slow one for both theater and dance, so I decided to explore an aspect of the Portland performance art scene that is often neglected by critics, but is nonetheless extremely important and popular. I refer, of course, to strip clubs.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not very familiar with the Portland exotic dance scene, so I consulted my co-workers for ideas on where I should go.

"Try Mary's" said associate editor and strip club frequenter, Katia Dunn. "It's cute and wholesome." Interesting words to describe a strip club, but also intriguing. Mary's it was.

And thankfully, Katia's description could not have been more accurate. From its cozy interior, to the friendly bar staff, to the extremely approachable attitude of the dancers, Mary's makes every effort to make you feel right at home. Other clubs tend to offer excessive amounts of women, steam, and neon lights, which has an almost desensitizing effect. Mary's avoids this problem with a very simple format: one stage and three dancers, who go one at a time. Instead of sensory overload--which is intimidating--you feel relaxed, which is somehow sexier.

The bar is very small, and the dancers converse freely with the patrons, both onstage and off. I know what you're going to say: Of course they're going to talk with the patrons--they have to work it, don't they? But what impressed me about Mary's dancers' conversation skills is that they weren't pushing you to tip them more, or buy a lap dance, but seemed to genuinely enjoy just shooting the shit with people; about the weather, about their love lives, whatever. I actually would have felt guilty asking one of these amiable ladies for a lap dance, whereas at other places I've been, I would have felt guilty refusing one.

Don't get me wrong, though: Special private dances are definitely an option, and are certainly encouraged. Just because these dancers are approachable, doesn't mean they're not extremely good at what they do. Indeed, it is that combination of friendliness and sexiness that makes Mary's a must-visit for any true strip club connoisseur.

Unfortunately, I cannot deliver a report of that most key aspect of a quality strip club: the lap-dance. I am a broke, struggling writer who simply can't afford such luxuries right now. But if you want my esteemed opinion of the lap dance quality at Mary's, you can still make it happen: simply send $20 here to the Mercury, with the heading, ATTN: JUSTIN'S LAP DANCE. I pledge to use this money to give you the on-the-pulse strip club coverage you deserve. After all, I'm here for you.