THE DEVIL WEARS PASTIES
The Devil Wears Pasties
by Kip Franich
Deep in southeast Portland, north of Reed College and south of the more hipster areas of Belmont and Hawthorne, there is a very peculiar district called Foster-Powell. FoPo, as it is colloquially known to Portlanders, is a time capsule, a living memory of what is normally thought of as “Old Portland” intermingling with the newer, more gentrified Portland. On one hand, FoPo hosts a rather large suburban residential area; many interesting old buildings; parks; community centers; several well-rated elementary and middle schools; a flourishing culinary scene of restaurants and food pods; a burgeoning art scene, including galleries; landmark Portland businesses; record stores; fancy apartment complexes; tree-lined throughways; and Portland’s very first black-owned brewery, Assembly.
While on the other hand, it has managed to maintain some of the seedier elements of Portland that has always been part of its charm: porn shops, strip clubs, “lingerie modeling” venues, massage parlors, garbage-strewn streets, dark alleyways, dive bars, and old buildings (sadly) in disrepair. I find myself hard pressed to think of anywhere else I’ve been to with such a stark juxtaposition: a rather nice suburb that is just a block away from a street corner that hosts a sleazy porn shop and pot dispensary which is across the street from a vegan bar. Truly, FoPo is a microcosm, a perfectly concentrated dose, of the genuine Portland experience.
Even the design of the district itself is interesting: it strongly resembles a right triangle. The area of the district is defined by 82nd Ave in the east, running north to south; Powell Blvd in the north, running east to west; and Foster Rd in the south, running southeast to northwest where it intersects with Powell on 50th Ave.
These three streets are major throughways in Portland, so the area is also well-known for its vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Fortunately, one can wait out congestion by trying out any of the district’s great aforementioned restaurants, galleries, or shops. My personal favorite spot to go is located on Foster, the hypotenusal side of the district: the world famous (or possibly infamous) Devils Point.
Founded in 2001, Devils Point is a small Rock ‘n Roll strip club in an old early twentieth century building on the diagonal corner of 52nd and Foster. There has been a bar at this location since December 5th, 1933, when prohibition was lifted.
“Before we opened,” says Shon Boulden, owner of Devils Point and its sister club, Lucky Devil Lounge on Powell. “It was a dive bar in pretty bad shape called The Point. That place wasn’t a strip club though. I think there’s only been maybe one other strip club here before us.”
Devils Point isn’t just your ordinary strip club, even by Portland's standards. While it shares the common characteristic of many such establishments of being in a cramped, rundown building in a rather sketchy area, Devils Point stands out from its competitors in many key areas.
First and foremost, from dancer to bouncer, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that works there that doesn’t want to. There is a sense of camaraderie between the employees and the patrons, like they’re all one big happy family. Everyone seems to be having a great time while you’re there.
With its communal environment, eclectic spirit, aura of pride and hard work, and abundance of cheap (and craft) beer, in a way–though many would object to this description on principle–Devils Point is a melting pot of everything that Portland values.
My first Devils Point experience was on a Sunday in 2017. I had just started working as a cook at the now defunct Foster Burger. Devils Point was just two doors down from us and with whom we shared a trash area. I was just starting to come into my own in the restaurant industry, but I was still pretty wet behind the ears when