Sunday, August 5, 2012

Panorama Nightclub, Portland, OR

This will seem completely out of the blue -- but yes, that's me, posing with Ethel Merman.

Where and when was this photo taken? Well, funny you should ask. It was taken in 1996, in downtown Portland, Oregon, in front of the now-defunct Panorama nightclub.

Just in case the huge figure of Ethel didn't give it away, the Panorama was a gay club. I was visiting Portland in the summer of '96 and was walking downtown with a friend when we happened to stumble onto it. We couldn't resist posing for a photo -- we thought that huge Ethel was just so terrific.

Was it part of the Panorama's permanent sign, or just a temporary addition? I haven't the slightest idea. My cousin, who lived in Oregon in the 1990s, said she doesn't remember it, for what that's worth.

A few weeks ago, I got to thinking about the Panorama. I'd often wondered whether Ethel still presided over her street corner. After doing some Internet research I learned that not only did the Panorama close, but Ethel is gone. This is the same corner today on Google StreetView:

I Googled and Googled, but I could not find another image of the Panorama and Ethel anywhere on the Internet. So I scanned my photo and uploaded it to Flickr, and I am now happy to report that Googling "Panorama Portland Ethel Merman" promptly produces my photo. I'm happy to have added that wonderful sign to our planetary photo archives. It would be such a shame if Ethel were lost to posterity.


  1. The corner is so boring now! Good for you bringing Ethel to the masses! Long may her spirit live on!

  2. Yeah. That corner misses Ethel. You can tell.

  3. I love her! I'm glad you're claiming her for posterity :)

    Oh, & yes, I think B-52s every time I see the moon.

  4. Thank heavens you caught Ethel in all her glory, before the corner became so forlorn.

  5. There is nothing to distinguish that corner now...Ethel was certainly a stand out.

  6. Yes, what Reya said...So sad about Ethel, I would love to have her on my front porch! Thank you for at least saving the photo which is awesome! Love that shot!
    When I stay in Portland I stay at an old hotel that has a gay club right across from it- I wasn't sure until I peeked in....not Ethel cool, mind you...more like in your face cockadoodle- doo.

  7. Ha! What's the name of your hotel, Linda Sue? I think I stayed in the Sutter when I was there -- or something like that. An older hotel but nice.

  8. Trying to catch back up on your blog posts ...

    Wow, that corner looks completely different now.

    Poor Ethel. Maybe she's gracing someone's living room wall now as a piece of art or conversation piece.

  9. WHOA! I'm fucking old (especially today-I turned 44)! I found a pic of my band playing here between 2000-2006!

  10. I was the resident dj that year

    1. That was the best night club Portland ever had, and believe me not everyone there was gay.

  11. Unknown & Sandog: I'm so glad that people connected with this place have found my post! I'm nine years OLDER than you, Unknown, so don't rub it in. :)