by Michael Love
All Images by Amanda Contois of Beautiful Aberration
With all of the clubs, organizations, and events that we have, Portland is quickly establishing itself as the sex positive hub of the world. Last weekend we were given a great example of just exactly what that means.
Saturday night my girlfriend, another close friend, and I attended Whoopee! A Sex Positive Variety Show at the Bossanova Ballroom. I had been before, but for my girlfriend and our friend it would be their first time taking in the show. I knew from my previous experience to spring for the VIP seating, not just to get great front row seats, but also to get the gift bags from the sponsors of Whoopee!, full of swag worth so much more than the cost of the tickets.
I think it’s pretty incredible this little love child that Amory Jane and Lady Coquine have put together… to give the local Sex Positive community a creative voice to express themselves and create awareness.
Billed as a sex positive variety show, Whoopee! offers shows that are limited only to the imagination of performers like Nox Falls, Sir Cupcake, Rakeem, Lola Coquette, Eva D’Luscious, Phallus Johnson, and so many more performers both locally and from out of town!
It turned out this month’s show, themed Ice and Fire, actually marks their official two year anniversary. They pulled out all of the stops with a local star studded cast of characters, a few of which were return performers from previous shows, performers who have gone on to make names for themselves in the local Portland Arena. According to Whoopee! co-producer and talent and stage manager Lady Coquine, they pride themselves on featuring new performers that have never performed on the Whoopee! stage in each production. “Every show is different, and has unique and raunchy performances,” says Lady Coquine, “But we always strive to feature POC and queer performers and have at least one aerial act, one fire act, one comedian, one burlesque, and one demonstration, with a few sexy surprises thrown in between (the sheets).”
This show would be no exception… It started out with an acrobatic fire duet from Sol Riso and Zenith, that was a beautiful and emotive performance; they danced and moved with each other, while fire danced all around them. Then there was a fun, hot, and informative, sex-ed demo with author, and well known sex educator, Stella Harris; she took us through exploring some ways to incorporate rough sex into our play in a safe manner while Iris Ives enthusiastically volunteered to be her willing subject, taking her smacks and slaps with a smile. Next on the stage was Baby Le’Strange, who came out for a fun and sultry burlesque performance that was anything but gluten free! She was followed by a stand up routine with Portland comic and fellow sex-positive & queer event producer, Jenna Vesper, who along with Stella Harris, shares the distinction of being one of the night’s performers who also starred in the very first Whoopee! show. Closing out the first half of the show, Shireen of Flamebuoyant Productions gave us a mesmerizing performance with her fire dance routine.
Midway through the show there was a little break that gave the guests a minute to stretch their legs, grab a drink, and browse the vendors tables where businesses like: Portland Toy Co, GeekStar Costuming, Manatee Medicinals, Babe Wax, Cupcake Girls, by KK Swann, and Madhatters Glass were all selling their sex positive themed trinkets and wares. This is also when you’ll want your raffle tickets handy, because this is the time when we get a taste of some of the thousands of dollars worth of gifts that sponsors like She Bop, Clone-a-Willy, Jayne, Fun Factory, Uberlube, Gay Pigeon, Glow Fuck Yourself and Luminous Botanicals, have donated to the event.
If this alone was the extent of the show, it would be well worth the price of admission, but there’s a whole second segment to go! Iris Ives came back on stage to kick off the second half with a beautiful and elegant routine while contorting herself into some incredible yoga poses while using hand canes. We were mesmerized by her balance and body control… all while doing a sexy strip tease.
Next up was someone who is well known in the Portland Burlesque scene, Lacy Knickers. Lacy, who treated us to a fun and sexy ice queen burlesque routine. Her naughty personality shines, and we couldn’t help but adore her!
All of the performances were spectacular, but they always seem to save the best for last. This night would not disappoint. Aerialist, Heady Metal came out dressed in nothing but a fishnet bodysuit, leather foot gauntlets, gloves, and a leather mask, and she gave us an incredibly thrilling and powerful performance on aerial chains suspended from the ceiling. I’ve seen aerial performances before, but her twisting and twirling around on those big heavy chains was more than just a feat of acrobatics, it was a fierce yet elegant showing of body strength. When her performance ended, I felt like I’d been holding my breath the entire time!
Next up would be the final act. Lady Coquine commissioned this act just for the Fire and Ice show. “Whoopee! is a great outlet for performers, we encourage our talent to explore their sexual expression on stage and many performers debut original acts or make sexier versions of their routines on our stage that they could not perform elsewhere,” she tells us. This time it would be a very colorful and flamboyant Johnny Nuriel and locally renowned Nikki Lev, teamed up for a spectacular performance of Ice and Fire… Johnny and Nikki started out dressed in beautiful and exotic costumes, and danced while Johnny sang Cold as Ice by Foreigner. Johnny’s vocals are strong, his makeup intense, and with his long lean body; his presence on the stage is incredibly powerful. As Johnny’s song ended, he lit his fire props as Nikki began her equally strong performance of “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon… The two would incorporate powerful visuals, and performance and even brought in a bit of fire into the routine to give it that manifestation of Ice and Fire that really put a hot finale on the show!
But the night wasn’t quite over yet… there were still thousands of dollars worth of gifts to give away, and then… the Kinky Karaoke After Party hosted by the Golden Throated King and Queen of Portland Karaoke, Luke Matter and Nikki Lev. Kinky Karaoke involves the singer coming up and spinning the wheel of kink. The wheel has one very small “prize” spot and the rest of the wheel is covered in various BDSM activities that the singer must either consent to give to someone else, or receive WHILE they sing their song. (This is a community that celebrates and embraces consent!) Not usually into kink… the three of us found it very entertaining to watch, as singer after singer came up and tried to get through their songs while being spanked, flogged, and shocked. A small group of friends came up and joined in on a song while one of their friends gave another friend a lap dance. My girlfriend discovered that she might have a mild sadist streak; she found that she was oddly turned on by all of it. I think perhaps the best bit of the whole experience was that we found ourselves exposed to things we would not normally seek out, and it was all done in such a way that any forward thinking and open minded person would walk away from the experience with positive feelings, and maybe even a bit of curiosity.
So where did this all start? What made a mild mannered sex educator decide to tackle such a huge production? Amory Jane, who teaches sex ed workshops for adults, is the Sex Education Coordinator at She Bop, and host of the podcast Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane, tells us that the concept of the show sprung from her loins back in the fall of 2016. AJ tells us, “I started Whoopee! after the 2016 election results had a lot of people in the queer and sex-positive communities feeling anxious, angry, or worried for the future. I wanted to help make our communities stronger, while giving people a fun and inspiring event to attend, and also to provide a stage where people could unapologetically be themselves and express their sexuality, body love, and passion.”
The debut show was a smashing success. “It was bold, fun, and it sold out, completely!” Says AJ who was completely satisfied with how the vision had come to fruition. There were a few hiccups as well though; “I booked 16 performers,” says AJ, “I had heard and also known from previous experience that Portland can have a flakiness problem, so I overbooked thinking some of the performers would cancel. We only had one no-show, so I had to fit 15 performers into an event that was scheduled to be 2 hours long. We definitely went over 3 hours though!”
When an organizer starts up a new venture, there’s no way of knowing how successful it will be or what kind of turnout that can be expected. So they chose the Crush Bar for the debut show because of its ongoing and enthusiastic support of the sex positive community. The place was packed to capacity and beyond… to the point where the Fire Marshall made them close the doors.
At the conclusion of the show it was obvious to the organizers and the performers, that there was an audience for the show, and it was such a joyous experience that they immediately started planning the next one. It was with mixed emotions that they realized the Crush Bar was just too small of a venue to appropriately host the show, so they found a new home at the Secret Society Ballroom.
The Secret Society Ballroom offered a larger venue with capacity up to 150 people, but it had some limitations as well. The space didn’t offer the performers the ability to do the aerial or fire performances that were the dream of Lady Coquine, who joined the Whoopee! Show as a co-producer and collaborator in April of 2017. Her vision was to grow the show and incorporate different communities that are sometimes isolated, into a larger sex positive community. They also didn’t have a proper green room; the performers were having to get ready for their performances in the “ladies room” lounge and walk through the restaurant area in costume, or what little costume there was. It made for some awkward situations with people walking through public areas partially nude or in very little clothing. It only took a few months for them to realize that they needed a venue more suitable to the kind of show Whoopee! and it’s community was evolving into.
In June of 2017, they were able to move their show over to the Bossanova Ballroom. “The nice thing about the Bossanova is that they already host several sex-positive events,” AJ tells us. The larger space also allowed for the introduction of fire performances and aerial acts. They also have a large space upstairs where performers can warm up and get ready backstage without giving away any spoilers for their acts.
Kicking off a new, never been tested kind of event like this has its challenges, especially in the sex-positive realm. AJ tells us,”Finding venues that allow not just full nudity, but sex ed demos and things that are a bit more risqué, has always been a challenge. I also struggled a bit with managing a show alone that had 10+ performers and so many parts to organize, but when Lady Coquine came on as a co-producer and took on the responsibilities of talent coordinator and stage manager, her hard work and visions really helped Whoopee! grow.”
It truly does take a village to run and manage an event of this size and caliber. Fortunately for Whoopee there is a volunteer team of people who are passionate about the message and the show, who all pitch in to make it happen. “Whoopee! is a labor of love, with most of the organization and labor before each show being done entirely by Lady Coquine and I” says AJ. “On the night of the show, we have a crew of friends who have been volunteering for almost the entire two years: my good friend Eric, who has been a storyteller with the show, greets all of the attendees and hands out the sponsor gifts. My housemate and friend Katelyn, my spouse Matias, and my metamour Joelle sell raffle tickets at each show, and then we have a rotating group of folks who are in the community who run the spotlight, play the music, and help us set up. We also have an amazing photographer, Amanda of Beautiful Aberration, who has been with us since one of our first shows at Secret Society. She captures all of the acts on stage and spends a lot of time editing photos so our performers have professional action shots to use for promotion.”
Whoopee! continues to grow, but will likely remain at the Bossanova for some time, as capacity is not generally an issue. The Bossanova staff at the venue are enthusiastic and supportive about the show and continue to help Whoopee! grow their audience and community. What started out with about 80 people in the audience in an over-capacity Crush Bar has grown to an event that pretty consistently sees numbers in excess of 200. There’s a good reason for it… the entertainment is top notch, the mission and message are what we in Portland value and hold dear to our hearts, and honestly, as entertainment goes, it’s a pretty reasonably priced night out for sexy fun, with people you will WANT to hang out with!
Be sure to check out the next Whoopee! on Sunday, April 21st, 2019 at the Bossanova Ballroom. The theme is cannabis and weed, featuring an all POC showcase of talent, with special guest host, Ms. Briq House of Seattle. Visit and follow the Whoopee! A Sex Positive Variety Show page on Facebook or Instagram
@whoopeelive, or on their website to stay up to date on details, and to get more information about the event and when tickets become available, as well as future shows and events.
Whoopee!: A Sex Positive Variety Show is co-produced by
Amory Jane (@Amory_Jane & facebook.com/AmoryJaneSOTB or you can visit her website at amoryjane.com) and
Lady Coquine (@LadyCoquine & facebook.com/ladycoquine)
A special thank you to Amanda Contois of Beautiful Aberration for the stunning photos for this article. Please check out her work!
Please direct any article corrections or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org /All images published with permission from the photographer Amanda Contois of Beautiful Aberrations, Performer credits as provided by Whoopee Talent Coordinator Lady Coquine.