Keep Portland Weird

Viva Las Vegas Runs For Mayor

Liv Osthus’ memories of Portland’s glory days fuel the beloved stripper’s longshot mayor run

Liv Osthus came to Portland in 1996 because she didn’t know where else to go.

After graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts, the aspiring writer and musician couldn’t imagine returning to Minnesota, where she grew up. And New York and Los Angeles just seemed like too much, too soon.

So she landed in Portland, a midsized industrial city in transition.

Osthus made a good choice. It was an exciting time to be young in the Rose City. Cheap rent abounded and everybody was in a band. You could be whoever you wanted to be – and you could make it, in a low-key kind of way.

That was then.

Over the past half-dozen-or-so years, Portland’s good vibes have largely disappeared. Record-breaking numbers of murders, homeless encampments and fentanyl overdoses have turned the city of Osthus’ youth – the Portland of Satyricon, the Red and Black Cafe and, yes, the TV show “Portlandia” – into a distant memory. People miss it.

Which is why, Osthus says, she made a decision a couple months ago that surprised even her: She would run for mayor. She wants to bring back the buoyant, striving, look-at-me city that lured her here all those years ago, and she believes she knows how to do it.

Her campaign announcement scored headlines across the country and beyond, but not because political observers believe she has a shot at winning. It’s because Osthus is best known as the erotic dancer Viva Las Vegas, longtime Mary’s Club habitué and subject of a feature-length 2018 documentary.

This is neither an endorsement nor a mockery of Viva For Mayor., but I find this little ripple of news to be interesting. In my jaundiced opinion, the ongoing catastrophe of Post-Rational America calls for a counter-culture -- not some new political party. Viva's amateur campaign is worth watching.

9 users have voted.


Oregon used to be a great place
visited many times - Corvallis and Eugene
were pretty hip at one time
what happened?

4 users have voted.

@QMS What happened was Nike, Intel and tech in general. Seattle, where I live, was destroyed earlier by MS, Amazon and other tech. That, and because the cost of housing and living was comparatively low before that. Plus, other than those things, the PNW is a natural paradise - but now you need to be affluent to live there and enjoy it.

5 users have voted.

@Bring Back Civics
the social cohesiveness I saw gave me great hope
for social development. Guess industry destroyed it?

2 users have voted.
earthling1's picture

in '96 a it was a great little metropolis. One could walk the downtown at all hours without fear.
Now the downtown and much of the surrounding suburbia is a scary place, even in daytime.
Fortunately, the recreational opportunities, be it lakes, rivers, and streams or state parks, national forests, and abundant wilderness areas are untouched with crime or crowds. And the coast is awesome.
Portland itself has been Californicated.
I'm happy enough to keep to the periphery and gaze from afar.

3 users have voted.

Neither Russia nor China is our enemy.
Neither Iran nor Venezuela are threatening America.
Cuba is a dead horse, stop beating it.

Portland had been my favorite business travel destination as I was working for the Cinematographers Guild. From 2009 until March 2020, I spent 20 or so days a year in Portland. I would walk the downtown streets to restaurants and bars virtually every night I was in town. My experience echoed the description of a safe place to walk around in at any hour of the day or night.

I cannot dispute the suggestion that the City was Californicated by Big Tech, but I saw no evidence of that as of the start of the Plandemic from my business traveler's perspective, admittedly privileged by having an expense account. I enjoyed my trips to Portland far more than my time in San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Cleveland or Detroit. I have not traveled outside of Los Angeles County since then, but the deterioration that Viva decries about her adopted hometown synchs up with what I see here in La La Land.

How to push back? Maybe Weird Portland will find an answer.


4 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

It seems like that is EXACTLY what they've been trying to exterminate this past decade.

The Silicon Valley I grew up in was practically a parallel universe in which the Counterculture won the '60s; it was the only home I've ever had...and now it's been all but paved into oblivion.

All this "Inclusivity™" stuff isn't inclusive at all; it's IMPERIAL ("Resistance is futile. You WILL be Included™"). You can't opt out, you can't assert your own place, the existence of the individual is being flatly denied, which is flabbergasting to even think anybody could think that to begin with, and if you can't find an "Identity™" from among the menu of mass-produced McSouls preemptively declared to exist by the bureaucracy, one will be found for you.

I've also been thinking of it like a B-movie: Attack of the MAD CASTING-DIRECTOR!!!
They're like snotty 4-year-old girls who don't know how to play make-believe with others because they just want to direct (and do so the way George Lucas was infamous for directing, no less, that forced talented actors like Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen to become "wooden" cinematic laughingstocks).

Counterculture is precisely what's been taken from us, and precisely what we need back.

4 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is declared mentally ill for describing colors.

Yes Virginia, there is a Global Banking Conspiracy!

@The Liberal Moonbat is a contradiction in terms.

Great post, Moonbat.

3 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

janis b's picture

Thank you for bringing Portland to our attention. It does seem like an appropriate example of how much integrity has suffered. Reading about the mayoral candidates was interesting. It looks like there are some alternative, if not weird choices.

3 users have voted.