Thanks to a whopping 53 percent of your votes, the second excursion in the Mercury's poorly conceived Worst. Night. Ever. series meant I spent my Friday night at Cuda Cabaret at Barracuda.

You guys thought you were soooooo clever. You guys thought you were forcing me to have the worst night ever. You guys were positive I'd have a miserable time.

Guess what, assholes? You were wrong. All of you who voted for my misery? You lost. Meanwhile, I won—and I'm considering using what little power I wield at this newspaper to rename "Worst. Night. Ever." to "Best. Night. Ever."

I'm not gonna lie: As the votes started coming in, and as it became increasingly obvious that I'd be attending Cuda Cabaret, I started to get nervous—in large part thanks to one particular threat comment from burlesque dancer Delilah Sinn:


My supportive coworkers and Blogtown's cordial commenters weighed in, too:


Thanks for nothing, fuckers.

But you know who's a better person than all of you jackasses? Like, 100,000 times a better person? Rayleen Courtney, the organizer of Cuda Cabaret. Rayleen not only chimed in with a gracious and kind Blogtown comment of her own, but she also sent me a super-friendly Facebook message and went out of her way to make me feel welcome at Friday's show. (And I'm not only referring to the fact she comped my admission with a plus one, nor that she bought me and my pal Grant a round—though that certainly didn't hurt.) Thanks to Rayleen (who, again, is a far, far better person than any of you), by the time Friday night came around, I was no longer dreading Cuda Cabaret. True, there was still the horrifying possibility of Delilah Sinn pulling me onstage and baring my terrifyingly pale and frighteningly emaciated frame to a furiously jeering audience—but I figured with enough Scotch in me, I could even face that.

Talky talky talk. So did you get pulled onstage and made a fool of?
No! While I'm pretty sure I got marked as "that asshole from the Mercury" as soon as I showed up—it might've been my ever-present paranoia, but I swear the bouncer shot me a pitying, "There but for the grace of God go I" look as he read the name on my ID and allowed me to cross the Barracuda's threshold—everyone I met at Barracuda and Cuda Cabaret made me feel super comfortable, and no, there was no public humiliation. IN FACT, QUITE THE OPPOSITE: During Cuda Cabaret's intermission, the adorable, delightful, and totally crush-worthy Delilah Sinn came up to me, introduced herself, thanked me for coming, and gave me a rose. (She had also brought a rose for my girlfriend—but since I ended up bringing Grant instead, he scored a rose too!)

I will cherish this rose until the day I die.

Goddammit. We were hoping you'd get humiliated.
I know you were, fuckers.

Whatever. At least tell us that the actual event was awful.
Nope! While I'm not gonna say burlesque is my new favorite form of entertainment or anything, it was a totally fun way to spend Friday evening, and I think it's fair to say that the burlesque community in Portland—at least based on the portion of it I spent Friday night with—gets a bum rap. There's a tendency to dismiss burlesque as nothing more than fancy strippin' (in fact, I did this in my original Worst. Night. Ever. post), but that simply isn't the case. What I saw on Friday night was fun, sexy, and markedly different from ye olde arte of pole dancing.

The talent on display at Cuda Cabaret was pretty wide-ranging—some acts were much better than others, and not all of 'em did it for me. It's hard to characterize the show as a whole, though, since every performance was different—the music ranged from Kanye to a cover of Springsteen, and the routines varied accordingly. The best ones successfully combined elements of music, performance art, dance, and (okay, fine) stripping. A couple of highlights: The aforementioned Delilah Sinn, who opened the show by climbing out of a giant flower and yes, did pour hot wax on her boobs; Lady Germany, who entered wearing a dress made of balloons and, to the strains of "99 Luftballons," whipped and twirled around some torch things that were on fucking fire in order to burn off said balloons; Cherry Valance, who brought a retro-cool speakeasy vibe to one of her routines (and scores bonus points for being named after a character from The Outsiders); and the fantastically named, homo-tastic Burlesquire, who were the only male performers of the night and also some of the best.

Sigh. Okay. But ha! You had to be at Barracuda on a Friday night! That must've sucked.
Nah, it was fine! The only things about the place that even felt weird, in fact, were the rocks glasses I drank out of, which were made of bluish plastic and glowed all Tron-style thanks to the occasional black light. HOWEVER. It should be noted that when I arrived at Barracuda, it was around 9:30 pm, and most of the people there—a crowd that had a strong lesbian contingent and was mostly low-key, friendly, and supportive—were there for the burlesque show. At the stroke of 11, though, Cuda Cabaret promptly ended and the smoke machines and dancing lights were promptly switched on—and Grant and I looked up to find ourselves suddenly surrounded by fratty douchebags. It was a totally unexpected and overwhelming shift, with Barracuda transforming from a place where I was having a good time watching people dance all sexy-like to a place where I was pretty sure I was about to get my lunch money stolen from me. Or roofied.

Christ, Erik, was there anything you didn't like?
The pasties.

Was it the really the worst night ever?
Not by a long shot. In fact, I'd like to thank Blogtown readers—and Portland's burlesque community, who skewed the votes in their favor pretty impressively—for making me have such a good time that, when I got home and my sick girlfriend asked me how terrible my night had been, I said, "Actually, it was kinda the best night ever."

So yeah. Nice try trying to ruin my weekend, jerks. Too bad for you it was awesome.

Despite the fact that I had a good time at Cuda Cabaret—I'm sorry, I know that wasn't the plan—Worst. Night. Ever. will continue tomorrow, when Blogtown readers can vote on what event Mercury Arts & Web Editor Alison Hallett will have to attend this weekend! I've seen the voting options, and I already know which one's gonna win—and I can say with certainty that Alison's Worst. Night. Ever. won't include anything even half as cool as a chick using fire to pop a dress made of balloons.