Say Nice Things 2024

Say Nice Things About Portland… Again!

It’s time to take Portland back from the buttholes. Here’s how.

Portland’s Cutest Creatures

Let’s say nice things about the city’s most adorable critters!

Why I (Still) Love Portland

A former Portlander returns to survey the city’s damage—and rebirth.

Say Nice Things FUN PAGE: Can You Find Time-othy the Chrono Goblin?

Time-othy the Chrono Goblin is causing trouble in Portland's past, present, and future... so find the little fucker, QUICK!!

Say Nice Things About… Biking in Portland

Things have changed since the early 2000s (not to mention 1896), but biking in Portland is still magical.

(Portland Chefs) Say Nice Things About… Portland Chefs

Portland’s premier restaurant and cart owners hype up the local food and chefs they love!

Say Nice Things About Local Drag Artists (Proudly Representing Portland All Year Long)

You might not know these performers (yet), but these drag artists consistently embody Portland’s strange and timeless beauty.

Say Nice Things About… Portland’s Themed Bookstores!

Whether you’re into sci-fi, romance, or weirdness, Portland has a bookstore for YOU!

The Evolution of Sleater-Kinney

Indie rockers reflect on 30 years as a band, and why they still call Portland home.

AfroVillage Does the Real Work on Portland’s Homeless Crisis

Founder LaQuida Landford shows up for Oregon’s most vulnerable ‘round the clock.

[Welcome to our second annual "SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT PORTLAND" issue! Read it online here, or if you like physical, paper-y things, you can find it in more than 50 locations all around the city!—eds]

What better cheerleaders could Portland ask for than drag artists? They gossip, they make out with guys in letterman jackets behind dumpsters, and they amp everyone up with their pep, musicality, and choreography, right when the home team looks down for the count. 

These artists show up night after night, as many have for the past decade or longer. Some will be remembered for their looks, for the ways they interpret music, for their comedy, or their consistently fresh routines. It’s tempting to say “and some will be remembered for none of these things,” but the honest truth is they work toward and realize this city’s dream: to be such a self-actualized weirdo that one can walk in the door and get handed money by strangers.

This article could easily turn into a book, considering how many high caliber drag talents Portland has, but we have to start somewhere. If you don’t already know these performers, get familiar:  

Alexis Campbell Starr

Alexis Campbell Starr’s voice is rich with the diction and conviction of a saved woman–who might eat from the offering plate. But this reigning Rose Empress doesn’t reach for easy Christian jokes, instead using proper church vocabulary to humorously address the congregated apostles and apostates. Campbell Starr regularly advocates and fundraises for HIV research and patient support. A resident cast member of Darcelle XV Showplace, Campbell Starr often performs stirring gospel hymns in her repertoire of secular pop and R&B songs—but her reads will get you right with Jesus. Campbell Starr is so charismatic, it’s a wonder RuPaul hasn’t found her yet. 

Alexis performs regularly at Darcelle XV Showplace, 208 NW 3rd

Valerie DeVille

Poison Waters recently said you don’t have a roast if Valerie DeVille isn’t on your dais. DeVille wears barbs like badges of honor, proudly answering to “homewrecking whore” and “rotted bitch.” The sour-faced sweetheart models herself after toxic but iconic stage moms (like Patsy Ramsey and Danielle Staub), and stands out in the pantheon of Cruella wig wearers—from Manilla Luzon and Porcelain Black to Nicki Minaj and Emma Stone—for her moxie and clownish physicality. But unlike that Disney villain, DeVille has a soft spot for animals, and once starred in a pet adoption billboard campaign, cuddling a puppy and sneering at traffic.

Valerie performs regularly around town, and hosts Drag Queen Paint Party at Bottle & Bottega, 1406 SW Broadway

Clockwise from top: Diva Dott, Max Little & Mars, Jocelyn Knobs. (Photos: AUSTIN MCKEE, YAARA@TENDERHEARTPHOTO, BLOSSOM DREARIE)

Diva Dott

Diva Dott studied closely under her drag mother, the late artist Patrick Buckmaster, to become one of Portland’s most delightfully deranged drag artists. Dott hosts and performs in revues featuring casts with all body types, gender expressions, and kink tolerance. Next to nothing disgusts her, and next to nothing is outside her imagination. Over the past decade, Dott has honed her out-there pop culture references and year-round punk hooker aesthetic to stand out on her own. On her journey from club kid to leading event producer, Dott has become known and highly regarded as a filthy, nasty gal with a heart of gold. 

Diva regularly performs at CC Slaughters (219 NW Davis) and Back2Earth (3536 NE MLK Blvd)

Jocelyn Knobs

Drag queens from your favorite reality contests call Portland’s Jocelyn Knobs whenever they need a truly over-the-top costume. Knobs has designed playful, imaginative, and rhinestone encrusted looks for RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Lala Ri, Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, and Irene Dubois, as well as Drag Latina’s Queen Andrew Scott. Despite her brushes with fame, Knobs’ costumes are still affordable for many Portland queens, and she’s polished her craft considerably since 2018, which is no shade by any means. Who knows how much longer it’ll be before she’s ready for a close-up of her own? 

Jocelyn regularly performs at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton)

Max Little & Mars

Performing and producing duo Max Little and Mars have hosted drag shows featuring drag kings, trans, and nonbinary artists, as well as proudly self-styled monsters and “drag things” for nearly a decade. The duo’s shows can be simple as spotlighting ‘90s hunks, or as high concept as exploring our solar system, planet-by-planet. Above all else, they’re fun. Max and Mars also collaborate offstage. They commemorated one of their first revues in their documentary Goodbye Haute Glue (2021), as well as performed in their experimental variety web series, Magic Night at the Trans Bar!, an unapologetically queer (trans and weird) take on Tim & Eric’s absurdist humor.

Max & Mars perform regularly at Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway