Portland Cacophony Society - Santacon 2004

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Giggles chimed in at 3:17 AM -0800 on 12/8/04:

So, could someone send me the actual route from PDX SantaCon '04. I want to always remember my first Santa outting.....*sigh*

Santa marches into Saturday Market at noon and quickly assumes command of the Skidmore Fountain without a shot being fired. As far as the eye can see, the landscape is colored red with glam Santas, jester Santas, pimp Santas, rough trade Santas, at least one freemason Santa, a kimono Santa, a lucha libre Santa, and a Santa McDonald, among others. No polar bears this year, but stilt-walking Santa enjoys a lofty view as sexy Santas arrive in a rickshaw sleigh pulled by eight weary-looking "reindeer." Food stands are raided, cleaning fluid bottles are guzzled, gifts are handed out, and Santa is serenaded by giddy street performers.

After an hour of merriment, Santa circles Fire Station #1 and their holiday blanket collection program, and heads toward Stumptown Coffee for caffeine, beer, and bladder relief.

Santa invades the Embassy Suites Hotel for the first walk-through of the day, entertaining steak-house patrons, paying homage to the lobby Xmas tree, and fondling the buttocks of unwitting statuary.

Drunk with power, merriment and Windex, Santa moves on to bigger and better walk-throughs, now embracing the Navy SEAL-style tactic of "Stealth Santa." As Santa gathers outside Pioneer Place Mall, quietly readying to swarm the ramparts, the lead Santa then manages not once, but twice, to accidentally activate the "siren" switch on his bullhorn.

Finally, with bullhorns safely stowed and the signal given, Santa crams onto the Pioneer Place escalators and fills the mall's glassed-in skyway over 4th Avenue with jolliness (ultimately receiving a curt escort out of the building by mall security). The red menace then circles the block and ascends all ten floors of the flagship Meier and Frank store to visit SantaLand. 100+ Santas parade through the M&F SantaLand, as kids and parents wait patiently to see the official store Santa; the last Caco Santa in line reports being given the stinkeye by a young mother holding a crying toddler whose entire mythical cosmology has been shattered in a matter of minutes. Santa seems to have created a teachable family moment!

Santa makes a foray into Portland's living room -- Pioneer Courthouse Square -- only to find the city's huge holiday tree surrounding by the Holiday Ale Festival tent. Can it be true -- beer and a giant tree, together? Santa attempts to crash the Ale Festival through the exit door of the tent but is thwarted by grumpy OLCC types. A few Santas wait interminably on line to be carded so they can enter properly (Santa is 2000 years old, dagnabbit!) but most of the Red Menace moves on to surround Starbucks and sing bawdy carols to the flummoxed caffeine fiends.

As beat cops shoo Santa out of the square, a breakaway Santa faction marches up Broadway, through O'Bryant Square past puzzled skate punks, and down Oak Street to visit hipster holiday shoppers. Santa had been promised an afternoon kids' festival where he could distribute his hand-made toys, but the kids never materialized. No matter. The merry mob make their way back down 10th Ave to the MAX line, passing the Galleria and the streetcar stops full of cheerful if dumbfounded citizens.

The various Santa factions coalesce at the Library MAX stop, and the Santorganism grows to brobdingnagian proportions. A red and a blue line train pass Santa by, but not the yellow line train that we're wanting. Chants of "Santa needs a beer!" grow more insistent. Shoppers and employees from Finnegan's Toys gape at the sight of a light-rail platform overflowing with Santas. Finally our train arrives and Santas pile aboard. In the rear car, Santas dazed by too much cleaning fluid swing themselves up on the balance bars and nestle in the rafters.

The Santa train makes its way through downtown, taking on holiday shoppers who are showered with gifts and candy canes. At Saturday Market a cluster of middle-school skater kids hop onboard and groove on the jolly energy. Each of them is presented with one of Santa's misfit toys, which they unwrap and compare with each other. Howls of laughter ensue. Santa beams at his successful recruitment of a new generation of oddballs.

North Pole diplomatic emissaries Santalicious and Santa Wop reassure the MAX driver that Santa means him no harm. Still, as the Santa train crests the Steel Bridge, maniacally-waving Santas pressed against the windows spot transit police cars full of Tri-Met cops on the onramp. As the MAX continues up Interstate Avenue from the Rose Quarter, the police escort grows to a half-dozen cars. Still, no lights are flashing and many of the transit cops are even seen cracking smiles as they follow alongside the train. A small cluster of paranoid Santas (apparently believing they're the only ones in the crowd holding stash bags) slink out the train doors a few stops early -- to the catcalls of the rest of the group -- then stand forlornly on the station platform trying to look inconspicuous.

Santa disembarks at the Killingsworth station, then marches past shops and bungalows and through the doors of Interstate Lanes for some "cosmic bowling." This true-blue bastion of American virtue is quickly transformed into a Rabelaisian bawdy-house as spanking paddles are brought out, sexy Santas vogue on the tabletops to trip-hop music, and hot Santa-on-Santa action grinds away in black-lit alcoves. The bar is jam-packed and the beer line extends past the pool tables. Pizzas fly in and out of the oven. One Santa, finally getting the chance to place his pizza order, is asked for his name by the counter girl, who quickly adds, "And if you say 'Santa,' I'll fucking kill you."

A head count is taken as Santa masses to leave the bowling alley; the tally comes to a hundred and thirty. The Red Menace then hops the next northbound MAX to the Expo Center and invades "America's Largest Christmas Bazaar." The merchants invite Santa to try out sugary delights, massage chairs, and other such consumer goods, and (most) families strolling the aisles are delighted to receive festive Santa gifties. A professional video cameraman recording the bazaar instantly becomes a groupie and follows Santa, taping away, as the merry mob moves on to....

The Dancing Bare, an "interpretive dance establishment" as the KBOO radio news story identifies it, turned out to be a very popular stop. Latecomer Santas meet up with the growing mass at the nearby Kenton/Denver Ave MAX stop and ho their way into the club under the watchful eye of the giant Paul Bunyan. The slinky gals onstage and the garrulous DJ on the mic all love Santa and the generous tips that are stuffed in their stockings. Toward the end of Santa's visit, sexy Santas in latex, leather, and fake fur are invited onstage to strut their stuff and twirl around the pole to a chorus of appreciative "HO"s from the audience.

Arriving back in downtown Portland, the hungry mob jams into Ringler's pub for drinks and grub. Bouncers balk at the increasing state of Santa undress (baby, it's warm inside!) so Santa opts to keep his trou undropped for another hour or so. Meanwhile, Santa is officially "pink-slipped" by Portland management and directed to report for duty in Seattle in a week's time.

After a walk-through of Powell's City of Books, the Santa herd heads for the North Park Blocks, where they're greeting by a teller of dirty holiday stories seated atop the elephant statue. Boxes of sugar-glazed high-carb goodness are delivered from the notorious Voodoo Donuts as Santa gears up for an outdoor wedding. Sadly, the scheduled Santa musicians are nowhere to be found, but even without the tuba and accordion accompaniment, several Santas agree to be wedded to a Canadian Santa in an odd amalgam of merry/Moonie/Mormon plural marriage and a celebration of Blue State/Great White North fraternization.

Santa moves on to the famous Darcelle XV drag-queen emporium, and are greeted uproariously by a bachelorette party waiting in line to be let in the door. A hundred thirsty Santas aren't as patient as those perky ladies, though, so Darcelle's is skipped in favor of C.C. Slaughter's ("Portland's premier gay club") around the corner. C.C.'s lands firmly on the "Nice" list by waiving their cover charge for Santa (who tips very well but never pays cover) and Santa gits jiggy as a muth on the discolicious dance floor as the D.J. sends Santa shout-outs and shows Santa the love. On the runway, a "safe" fire dance is performed by the lovely Santa Charisse using glow poi. Holiday garb gets flung to the corners as the room becomes a riot of fishnets, thongs, heels, and bling.

In contrast to C.C. Slaughter's, Dante's dooms itself to the "Naughty" list by abruptly rescinding its offer to host Charisse's fo'real fire dance on its stage between the night's musical sets. They argue that Thrasher Presents is in charge of that evening's entertainment and makes it clear that Santa won't even be welcome in the main room. Santa knows where he's not wanted (and also knows who's getting coal in their stocking this Xmas). Instead, no-cover invitations are accepted for Santa to hang out at Fez Ballroom and the newly resurrected Satyricon. Other Santas repair to a private ho-down in the Corbett/Lair Hill neighborhood.

Small knots of Santas on the street are by waylaid by tipsy pedestrians and asked, "Hey, were you part of that mass Santa takeover of a MAX train earlier in the day?" to which they respond: "A bunch of Santas? On the MAX? What the hell are you talking about?!?"

And... that's all this Santa knows, 'cuz 'round midnight I and my equally exhausted Canadian Santa guest caught a #12 sleigh across the Burnside Bridge, headed back to my digs and called it a night. Anybody else who has stories of further late-night frivolity is welcome to pass them along....

-- Santa Stinkbeard, reporting

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