A Most Unusual House

by , under Ancient Personal History, Portland, The Daily Post

First off, there was the name. A name designed to catch your attention, three words that you never hear together juxtaposed into a single improbable object. The first word of the title is a common one, used by government and citizen, said every day by babies and toddlers and postal workers and carpenters. The last word of the title is rarely said, and never in polite company, perhaps the second-most offensive word in the English language (and thus appropriated by British punks.)

She is sometimes asked: why that name? Why that word? And the co-founder, a tall and ravishing redhead who was winner of children’s beauty pageants and a Japanese dance team competition  before moving on to sing Janis Joplin songs at the annual memorial concert, smiles.

She might tell you the etymology, or she might take the feminist line and point out the misogyny of attitude toward the word itself. “The way people think of that word is the way men think of women,” she might say. “As though the worst thing you can call somebody is an organ possessed by half the population.”

And then there was the show itself. Before she moved to New York and became a much-valued member of the downtown cabaret scene featured in the New Yorker and Time Out, the co-founder lived in Portland where she found other like-minded performers. They worked in restaurants and took catering gigs to pay the rent while they worked on their act. Skits, comedy, characters, music, dancing, all performed in the dining room of the restaurant where they worked. The performers engaged the dinner guests, brought them up and made them part of the act.  It was a big success, selling out show after show.

It was not enough to save the restaurant, not enough to keep the group together, but while it lasted it was unique.

 

Written in response to The Daily Post:Unusual

  1. Joy Pixley

    Interesting stuff. Clicked through to the link and I especially like how the review starts — that he can only prepare you a little, so you don’t get hurt or scared.

    The name, as the company, is very… what’s the female equivalent of ballsy? There obviously should be one!

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