Get a Degree in Portland Old School

THOMAS LAUDERDALE is the ringleader of Pink Martini, Portland’s homegrown orchestra-turned-international phenomenon with devout followers from Los Angeles to Paris. But offstage, Lauderdale is Portland’s good-will ambassador, a galvanizing fundraiser, and a chief curator of Portland nostalgia, who salvages bits of forgotten local history for his weathered three-story loft, and dreams of building a better Portland. (He’s even pondered running for mayor.)


Mary’s Club: This is the oldest strip joint west of the Cascades, and a rite of passage in Portland urban life. “I take all my out-of-town friends here,” says Lauderdale, “especially the ones from New York.” Mary’s is family-owned with the down-home friendliness of a neighborhood bar. Onstage, dancers elevate burlesque performance with the precision of symphony musicians and the grace of ballerinas. It’s worth a trip just for the murals of sexy sailors (think Paul Cadmus) painted by La Monte Montyne. 129 SW Broadway;


Thomas Lauderdale takes in the sights at Mary’s Club.

Cameron’s Books and Magazines: Open since 1938, the crammed aisles here hold an incredible back stock of old magazines like Life and Playboy, as well as obscure books you never knew you wanted. 336 SW Third Ave;

Darcelle XV: Four decades and an uncountable number of boas later, America’s longest-running drag bar still stands in Old Town. Everyone from politicians to homemakers has come through these doors to marvel at the lip-synching female impersonators and join the boisterous party, led by the bedazzling Darcelle (a.k.a. Walter Cole) and her choreo-grapher partner, Roxy LeRoy. 208 NW Third Ave;

Retired Associates of PSU: Lauderdale’s tip to friends over 50: check out this informal social club with programming on all aspects of local life, from the arts to politics to social issues. Always welcoming new members (dues are $15 annually), the group meets in the Multicultural Room of Portland State University’s student union the first two Thursdays of most months at 12:30 p.m.