"THE BEST PARTY EVER" rarely just happens. Like the alignment of the planets, fantastic parties are mysterious forces of nature that come about thanks to good timing, plenty of intoxicants, and a certain "X" factor that acts like a match lighting the fuse. If your next party is teetering toward the unmemorable, here are some tried-and-true methods for turning your shindig from "blasé" to "BANANERS!"
Put Up a Tree Swing
A party isn't a party without the possibility of bruises, broken bones, and making out. That's why a tree swing can solve all your party problems. True or false: Watching someone get kicked in the head by some crazy fuck flying by on a swing is funny. Answer: True! But it's even funnier when you're drunk. And when they're drunk. Plus, don't forget that for some reason, tree swings always seem to be a hot make-out spot. Do trees bring out our ancestral animal instincts? Do people love the challenge of keeping their balance while sucking face in the air? Who knows. Anyway, if all else fails, you can always instigate a game of pile-asses-on-the-swing-until-the-branch-breaks and see what kind of hilarity ensues. Someone is bound to get groped or thrown up on. CHRISTINE S. BLYSTONE
Dust Off Your (Ronco) Mr. Microphone
In July 1982, my sister had her 12th birthday party—a sleepover—at home. By 10 pm, the girls were getting a bit restless. The cake had been eaten, the piñata had been bludgeoned, and none of them had any weed. It was too dark to play lawn darts and too early to sleep. What else to do but harass the birthday girl's eight-year-old brother?
The Love Boat had just ended and I was headed to bed when a quintet of tweens in Izods and knee-high socks coerced me into entertaining them. Enter the Ronco Mr. Microphone (as seen on TV!). That's right, Mr. Microphone—#1 on many a 1980 Christmas list. In short, we hooked it up to our radio and I sang along to a Juice Newton 45 and did the Rolaids commercial a cappella. Before I knew it, I had accepted Piper Holladay's dare to stick my finger in the electrical socket and was dancing around like a Micronaut.
Old skool Portland, with its affinity for leg warmers and Soft Cell cover bands, is an ideal burg for bringing back Mr. Microphone. It's more than retro—it's magic! And, as it did with me (at age eight!), it may lead to a game of Truth or Dare with older women in their pajamas! That is to say, the best party EVER! WILL GARDNER
Invite a Pair of Old Swingers
Imagine it: A 24-year-old in a trucker hat and a cowboy shirt is slouched against the wall, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette; suddenly, a pair of eager, sun-withered, septuagenarian swingers just in from southern Florida sidle up next to him and pinch his butt cheeks. The big question is where to find these hot 'n' horny elders (other than the Willamette Week personals)? Rest assured there are sexually liberated fogies looking down from their 30th floor loft in the Pearl as we speak, scanning the Portland skyline, waiting to swoop down into the streets, and pluck a sexual novitiate from your next party. So put up some fliers! Remember: If you have a hot tub, all you have to do is turn on the bubbles: The effect is magnetic. EVAN JAMES
Hang an Adult-Themed Piñata
Let's face it—people who have been drinking need to be blindfolded and given a stick that they can use to beat the shit out of something. So fill a piñata with mini booze bottles, condoms, mini tubes of lube, whippits, cock rings, nipple clamps, and whatever other "adult" goodies you can think of and let your guests go at it. Not only will the booze keep the party going, but the other stuff will make the party vastly more "interesting" as well. This is especially true if a catfight breaks out over the more desired prizes. Or if people start putting the prizes to use right there on your Safeway meat platter. For an added touch of sacri-liciousness, fashion the piñata into an effigy of a religious figure, such as the Pope or baby Jesus! CSB
College Chicks + Tequila = Win!
My good friend and renowned party scholar, Lucas, insists this is a sure-fire formula for a good time. "Somehow this equation always equals a free strip show," Lucas sagely notes. "Why is it that college chicks can't stay dressed while drinking tequila? I don't know. And by the way, I don't care." Amen to that! Class is in session! CSB
Play Old-Timey Christmas Music and Watch Anarchic Behavior Ensue
Maybe it was the thrill of thrashing social decorum to a soundtrack of conservative Christmas carols, or maybe there's just something about those songs that inspires people to damage their relationships, their selves, and my house. Whatever it was, it worked the last time I threw an out-of-season holiday party. The soundtrack—exclusively comprised of Christmas music—caused a lot of degeneration: one normally straight-laced girl collapsed on my bed and vomited on herself; one of my most assuredly heterosexual male friends both compromised his sexuality and then lashed out at his seducer; and one boy started jumping around on a pretend hobby horse, screaming something unintelligible at the top of his lungs. I'm not sure what was going on at that party—but old-timey Christmas music was the cause, and I highly recommend it. EJ
So, the party is at your place and you want to keep it from being completely destroyed. Herein lies the problem: Drunken friends are sloppy friends. The solution? The Penalty Drink: a mysterious beverage that must be imbibed whenever a party foul is committed. Not only does a penalty drink encourage a certain level of manual dexterity throughout the course of the evening, it more importantly prevents the disrespect of alcohol. Even better? Your guests get to decide what goes in the cup! Be creative, and have an ambulance on standby! CSB
See Who Steals Shit
How many times have you so selflessly opened your vulnerable home to half-strangers all for a kick-ass party, only to find your favorite earrings or your $40 bottle of Appleton rum missing? Well, it's payback time and you get to play detective. Find the most klepto-friendly items you own and set up thieving booby traps around your place. Here are some examples of what you could do: place a $20 (real or fake) on its side so only the front is showing. Cover the back of it with moist bright red lipstick and see who comes out of your room red-handed! Or, you could set a bag of quarters on a shelf in your bathroom. Attach a string to run down the back of the shelves with loud bells on the end. When the bag is lifted, the bells come crashing down and all you need do is listen for the sweet sound of larceny. JENNA ROADMAN
Invite a Giant, Unknown Lesbian Teenager
This really happened to me. I was at a party earlier this year, standing on the front porch. Twenty lesbians were mingling in the backyard. Suddenly, a six-foot girl, maybe 16 years old, stumbled off the street, onto the porch, and into my arms.
"Are you gay?" she screamed into my face. "I love you!" she continued, hugging me tightly. Then... "Are there any lesbians here?"
I directed her to the backyard where she stumbled into the fray, screamed some more, and decided to grab somebody's breast. An angered hostess promptly ejected her from the party. However inappropriate she was, I'll never forget her; she taught me that turning a great party into an uncomfortable situation is as easy as inviting strangers into your party off the street. EJ
Have a Mr. Sketch Marker Handy
I learned an important tidbit of information at a Cinco de Mayo party last year... drunk people will let you draw on them! This is especially true if the artist has boobs and a vagina. If you do not have these assets, find someone at the party that does and hand her a Mr. Sketch Marker. Then together, come up with a plan of attack and follow her around. My mission last year was to draw a fake mustache on everybody at the party. Though the final mustache count was only 12, there were an assload of people walking around sporting shitty licorice-and-cinnamon-scented tattoos. Not only entertaining, these amateur mustaches are a great way to meet new people, and end up being conversation starters for everyone involved. Plus, if you're really cruel, you can use a marker with permanent ink, such as a Sharpie. They'll have those conversation pieces for days. CSB
Use Music to Your Advantage
As a general rule, the more partygoers crammed into a house, the more they start to resemble cattle. All the better for the industrious host to keep the herd moving by digging out his records and playing Pied Piper for a while. While you may be a big fan of Sun Ra—face facts: Folks tend to be most comfortable with familiar tunes as the soundtrack to their drunken chattering. In Portland, nothing gets a dull party bumping faster than busting out "Bad" or "Purple Rain." And yes, you'd think people would be ready to vomit upon hearing another rendition of "Billie Jean," but nevertheless it works like a charm every single time. Also, if things start to get a bit out of hand, a well-chosen album can be used to wind things down and drive the intruders from your home. Put on the Dead or the Eagles when your punk buddies have pounded a few too many 40s, and laugh at how fast the place empties out! JOSH BLANCHARD
Airplane Bottle "Easter Egg Hunt" (AKA The Rabbit Punch)
Spend $50-100 (recoupable at the door, if you like) on a bizarre variety of airplane liquor bottles and hide them around the house. I highly recommend dressing up as the Easter Bunny as well—if only for aesthetics. Assemble everyone and tell them, "The hunt is on!" Stare in amazement as people are forced to drink what they've found. Rules can be set such as "No trading" and "No outside liquor." Laugh your ass off as your friends are forced to drink Drambuie and cherry brandy, or tequila and peppermint schnapps! Be sure and have a couple of five-gallon buckets on hand so when the hurling commences you'll be able to blithely say (in the bunny costume, no less), "Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!" LANCE CHESS
Have a Party-Hopping Marathon
What's better than hosting one big, bumping party? Crashing a lot of big, bumping parties! If you've become such a restless social parasite where one or two parties won't cut it on Friday night, maybe it's time to up the ante. Having a party-hopping marathon is hinged upon picking the right weekend—like a holiday—and assembling the perfect wastoid task force. Set a 15-minute limit at each party to steal as much booze, mock as many people, and cause as much general havoc as possible. But don't go off half-cocked; a little bit of organization is essential. Keep it to one vehicle and plan the route you'll be burning through town. My friends and I would call these party-hopping marathons "Jerk Nights" and we'd all wear suits and smoke cigars. I'm still occasionally reminded of a particular night where I drank a fifth of Mt. Gay and drenched a station wagon full of people with sickly sweet rummy puke. Good times! (I think there are still a few people around town who'd like to kick my ass for that one.) JB
Ask Wieden+Kennedy to Sponsor Your Party
It seems that Wieden+Kennedy—that friendly paternal vampire of Portland youth culture—goes to great lengths to cull fresh, restless talent from the ranks of the new generation: giving them their own glass cubicles, providing them with a much-needed pair of Nikes, and hosting debaucherous weekends complete with hip bands and DJs. It's a great two-way pact: The cool-hunting agency is shrouded in a perennial aura of youthful subversion and hard partying, while the adopted children of advertising enjoy the mobilizing energy of money, power, and mystery that comes from cooperating with the agency. Sinister or benevolent? Who knows, and who cares? In any case, with Wieden+Kennedy money in your bank, you're going to have a banging party. Call Wieden+Kennedy at 937-7000. The worst they can say is "no." (Actually, the worst they can do is issue a "restraining order.") EJ
"Forget" to Spike the Punch
This may sound like a total TV sitcom cliché—but it actually works! I used to live at a party domicile (aptly named the "Fight Club House") where making a 20-gallon batch of sickly sweet jungle juice was something of a family tradition. One night the Everclear Fund had been cleaned out one too many times, and we decided to put the punch through the 12-step program. I swear, I saw more loose inhibitions and heard more comments about the "strong-ass jungle juice" than ever before. This trick is always a gas for both the cheapskate and the petty psychological manipulator. JB
Release a Litter of Greasy Rats in the Living Room
If there's one lesson humanity has taken away from centuries of war, famine, and human misery, it's that nothing is as scary as rats! Imagine a flock of cheese-mongering and potentially disease-infested rodents darting around your feet. Augh! A variation on the greased pig of high school fame, this is a party favor sure to get everybody dancing and emitting bloodcurdling screams. Chaos is always the best party favor. So buy a dozen or so rats from a local pet shop, and an industrial-sized tub of Vaseline. One by one, give each rodent a Vaseline dip, making sure to coat each evenly. Set aside, and about two hours into the party... release them! (If you really want to be alone, you can release them before the party and get different results: guests will turn away as they walk through the door into a parlor of glistening party rats crawling all over your second-hand couch.) EJ
Don't like Greasy Rats? Then Release the Squirrels!
I can hear you moaning, "But I don't have the time to rustle up a scurry of squirrels! I gotta pick up the karaoke machine and butterscotch schnapps!" With a mess of squirrels (eight to 10 are recommended), all the rest is flimflam (even those cream cheese roll-ups you love).
Though there should be a specific moment when the moppets are released into the fray, do not make a big production of their introduction. Look at them as fellow guests, not entertainers. Let them loose (this works better if the party is mainly indoors) one by one. Have your guests "stumble upon" a squirrel at the refreshment table or simply notice one on the arm of the couch waiting to jump in on a conversation about Proust. Most likely, the reaction will be a lot of "awws." Preferably, though, a rodent-phobic guest (or several!) will be present and proceed to wig out in your kitchen! Especially if there's plenty of PCP around!
NW Portland is a good place to find amiable squirrels; the campus of Lewis and Clark College, however, has the most gregarious in town—they actually approach you! To raise the "awww" quotient, try to get some baby squirrels with nubs for tails. WG