Category Archive for Nightcrawling
T-minus 10 seconds… to Halloween partying in Portland!
Every year, I try to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve in a big way. This time, my pirate crew dined on pumpkin, then ventured to a warehouse club filled with contortionists, fire-dancers and Almond Joys. Read on for the spooky story.
On October 31, Besaw’s Restaurant invited us to dinner. The waiters were dressed to impress, and invited customers to take part in an Instagram costume contest. Earlier that day, two robot-aliens took over the bar and won the popular vote.
Besaw’s (2301 NW Savier St.) is a popular downtown Portland restaurant, specializing in Pacific Northwest fine dining. That night, we were well-taken care of by an anime bunny and Wednesday Addams.
The building dates back to the 19th century. Wonder if the vampire and witch were the original inhabitants.
I discovered a new favorite cocktail: Bourbon, lime, ginger beer. My outrageous astronaut costume is from J Valentine Catalog, and my makeup is Annabelle (here are tons more space-girl outfit photos).
Our feast began with pumpkin fritters and spiced creme fraiche — perfection. I continued with butternut squash lasagna, made from organic and local ingredients. (First Mate Naomi is wearing a Cab Calloway ghost costume, which she made herself!)
We finished with two of the best desserts in recent memory: pumpkin cheesecake, and spicy gingerbread served warm with honey, roasted pears and vanilla ice cream.
Countdown, 3… 2… 1… let’s party! We were guests at The steep and thorny way to heaven (2nd and Hawthorne under the bridge by the waterfront). This is a semi-private underground party, meaning you have to RSVP or know someone to attend.
Organizer Myrrh bought this small warehouse space, and has regular events here with his friends. Expect surreal costumes and performances, and imaginative theme drinks. (I’m holding “The Pumpkin King,” made from my beloved pumpkin puree, ginger liqueur, aromatic bitters.)
The one-room venue alternated between dancing, music, and haunting theatrical performances. Above, Myrrh plays guitar and sings his original dark, reflective songs.
A contortionist joined him on-stage. Can’t wait to show you the video footage of her moves.
Some of the performances will leave your jaw hanging — such as this cheeky burlesque-like dance by a giant Almond Joy bar!
Such a variety of acts, like three girls who sang Medieval and Renaissance songs a-cappella.
A fire dancer heated up the room, accompanied by pulsing music.
Love the movements that Naomi captured in these no-flash images.
Finally, a fusion belly dancer twirled and raged with a sword on her head.
But perhaps the best performance of all was the impromptu one… where filmmaker Melissa played tricks on a sleeping victim! (Photos by me, Melissa Rundle and Naomi Rubin.)
Look for upcoming Steep & Thorny event announcements, including pirate karaoke, on their Facebook page. A must-see party, when you come to Portland (and not many locals know about it)!
Are you enjoying my Spooky PDX costumes so far? Isn’t this a terrific city for the offbeat?
A lot of people have a stereotypical image of Bangkok’s nightlife, perhaps from movies like The Hangover II. Ladyboys, sketchy bars, massage parlors… you get the not-so-pleasant picture.
It makes me a bit mad. This is only a tiny part of the scene that has been exaggerated (much like how the media called Japanese bagelheads a “trend”).
Where do young, dialed-in residents actually go clubbing? In Thonglor, an upscale neighborhood lined with modern music venues, restaurants and nightclubs. Read on to learn why Seby and I were blown away by Bangkok’s mod clubs.
It was hard for me to leave my cozy hotel room at the Sofitel So, but I wasn’t going to miss out on a nightcrawl. I changed out of my bathrobe to a Japanese dress and Yosuke moto boots from Shibuya 109.
Here’s the good news about transportation in Bangkok. Taxi fares are extremely low, as long as you grab a cab with a running meter. A 30 minute ride can be as little as $3-10 US, depending on traffic. You can take an open-air tuk tuk or motorcycle, but if you care about your clothes and hair (like we do), then taxis it is!
Now, the bad news. Bangkok traffic is atrocious. In all directions, at all hours. From our well-located hotel, a ride to Thonglor would regularly take 10 minutes. With this gridlock, however, Seby and I spent at least 30-40 minutes on the road.
But it’s all part of the experience. Just give yourself enough travel time, and enjoy the view along the way. (Most photos in this post are by Seby)
We were invited to dinner and drinks at Moose Bar (Ekamai 21, Bangkok, Thailand). The restaurant/bar is newly opened, and already popular with local hipsters.
Inside, the name makes sense, with antlers and taxidermy in every corner. Moose Bar has a vintage and laid-back feel. At the small stage, two acoustic guitarists strummed and sang.
The cocktail menu had dozens of intriguingly-named choices. Seby and I like to try local flavors, so we had drinks mixed with Rosselle, a type of hibiscus.
Now here’s a funny story — we’re pretty strong when it comes to hot food, and ordered a dry seafood curry, tom yum papaya salad, and crispy fried fish. Took a few bites, and it was marvelous. But the spices were a ticking timebomb… Minutes later, we were panting with our tongues out, and frantically waving for more water and rice!
Lesson learned: food tends to be much hotter here than in a Western Thai restaurant. But don’t let that dissuade you from trying the local cuisine, or you’ll skip out on delicious dishes, and perhaps a fun story or two.
The next night, we cabbed to the Thong Lor or Thonglo clubbing area (Sukhumvit Soi 55, Bangkok). In the past 5-10 years, this neighborhood has become the destination for trendy nightlife venues.
Badmotel is ruling the current club scene (located between Thong Lo Soi 15 & 17). The stark facade and glowing blue letters are easy to spot from a distance.
Not long ago, the owners took over a dilapidated building and re-did it in mod white, while keeping the sense of industrial grit. With the three floors, an outdoor space and a rooftop, this club would have felt at home in Brooklyn or Berlin.
Badmotel has a good reputation for bringing in the hippest DJs. That night, the crowd grooved to funk and mellow dance tunes from vinyl records.
There are often special exhibits on display, such as a pop-up photo gallery.
This picture says it all: Badmotel is the place to boogie on the weekend.
The delicious cocktails came in appropriately retro-hip glasses. Many were infused with Southeast Asian flavors like galangal, cumin powder and Thai tea.
Tip: make a dinner reservation if you want to eat, since the tables fill up fast. The cuisine is regional with a twist, such as the burger with nham (Thai-style fermented pork sausage).
View from the top of Badmotel. I loved getting to know the young, urban Thong Lo nightlife and hope you’ll witness it for yourself in Bangkok.
Seby and I also had a glorious view from the Sofitel So club lounge, where we stayed.
The lobby has a Mixo bar with unique cocktails, and The Water Club holds regular pool parties.
This hotel epitomizes the sleek, modern design I see around Bangkok, such as the 5 Senses light installation and giant chess pieces above. (I wanted to take this chess piece home.)
Sofitel So is decoratively divided into sections, inspired by the five elements. Guests can opt to change rooms in order to try each (above is Wood, obviously). Here are more photos of me modelling in the hotel.
The theme continues at the award-winning So Spa. I had a Serenity of Five Elements Thai massage, which incorporated bamboo sticks, hot stones and herbal compresses. Forever grateful to my masseuse, who worked out the kinks in my left shoulder.
Coming up: Seby and I get spiritual at a famous Buddhist temple.
Was Bangkok’s club scene what you expected it to be? Did Moose Bar and Badmotel shake up your impression of Thai nightlife?
If you’re an acid-Buddha party type, you’ll want to stay at Jupiter Hotel (800 E Burnside St, Portland, OR) in the Southeast district. Avoid downtown PDX. The coolest joints orbit around this planet, such as the Lovecraft Bar.
With a push of a button, the helmet lights blink in several colors! There are pulsing pin-lights in the legwarmers as well, activated with a twist. From the space cadet patches to the spongy hood, J Valentine’s attention to detail is beyond this world. They’re simply the best wink-wink women’s costumes on Earth.
The fuzzy legwarmers and long-sleeved bodysuit carry enough warmth for October nights. I added star tights and a Gladnews skirt for more coverage, although you can wear this as a romper.
The hotel staff went all-out with dressing up. Pretty much everyone here was young and easy-going.
The lobby doubles as an art gallery. My kitty-cat filmmaker Melissa Rundle did the photography in this post.
Right outside is the Doug Fir bar, a favorite hangout for PDX locals.
Each Jupiter room is spacious and has unique decor — one has a Marilyn Monroe mural. Guests are encouraged to get creative, and make chalk drawings on their doors.
Naomiyaki transformed the blank canvas into a deep space battle. That’s La Carmina, fighting aliens in a pirate suit. (Do you think I’ll be the first intergalactic travel TV host?)
One day, I’ll have my own space-disco robot.
You know you’re in a hipster hotel when your welcome packet includes…
The art lobby carries the two necessities, devil wine and green apples.
The mannequin, “Lily,” is a mascot who sometimes appears in random places around town.
Voyagers who love quirky art and nightlife, The Jupiter’s the place for you — as long as you don’t mind running into Harajuku kitty-girls outside.
What do you think of my astronaut Halloween costume? Better than the ones in the Gravity movie?
The designer, J Valentine, has an imaginative catalog of original costumes and clubwear. Be sure to check out their site.
Did you dress up this year? Got photos?
A Gothic Fairy Halloween! The Lovecraft Bar Brickbat club, Lincoln Restaurant Portland, Argus Car Hire.
The Old Ones have woken in Oregon… and I’m about to have my spookiest Halloween yet!
Thanks to Travel Portland, my film team and I got to dance with monsters at Lovecraft Bar, and dine at Andrew Zimmern’s beloved Lincoln Restaurant. Plus, I got to debut my new blue-green hair. Perhaps you’ve already glimpsed it on my social networks, linked on the sidebar –>
I had navy hair in my mid-late teens, but products were weak back then and it faded quickly to a murky green. But now, it’s possible to get salon-quality dyes in rainbow colors.
My amazing stylist Stephanie Hoy at Avant Garde Hair Vancouver bleached my hair, and layered on turquoise, blue and dark purple. She stayed away from yellow-green tones, in order to complement my skin. What do you think of this big change?
The romantic hair flower clips were custom-made for me by Angelica Brigade. I love her detailed work and delicate fabrics. She takes requests through her site, so you can have her create accessories to perfectly match your outfits.
I had three Halloween costumes this year; here’s Look #1. The Goth Fairy dress, wings and star tights are from my friends at Lip Service, the popular Gothic brand that also makes Victorian and Steampunk garments. My cut-out boots are Yosuke, bought in Shinjuku Marui One in Tokyo.
Although I look ready to party, I’m really here to make travel videos and articles with my hard-working film team. On these shoots, timing is key: we need to get around to a lot of locations during our short stay.
If you’re travelling to Portland, I highly recommend renting a car. Having this rental from Argus Car Hire helped us enormously — each day, we shot at up to six locations all over the city!
I’m notorious for complaining about my vehicles (“There’s no suspension! The wheel is jerky!”) but with Argus, the experience was 100% smooth, no pun intended. We got a spotless Subaru Legacy with less than 2000 miles on it. Enough legroom for our 4-person pirate team, and the color even matched my outfit.
Since I travel so much, I’m going to make Argus Car Rentals my go-to. They work with multiple companies, so they have a much larger selection of vehicles and options — 30,000 locations worldwide including USA, Canada, Europe.
Now, time to fly away and eat! We drove about 15 minutes to North Portland, to try one of the most talked-about restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.
When I had dinner with Andrew Zimmern in Vancouver, he told me I had to meet his talented friend, chef Jenn Louis. She kindly invited us to her flagship Lincoln Restaurant (3808 N Williams Ave, Portland OR).
Filmmaker Melissa shoots a collection of Jenn’s accolades, including Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine. Jenn built up her resume in kitchens around the US, but fell in love with PDX’s foodie culture and local ingredients. She opened Lincoln and then Sunshine Tavern, and recently appeared on Top Chef Masters.
After filming an interview with Jenn, we sat down to beautiful cocktails: “The Stone Fence” with Bourbon and apple cider, “Double Agent” with bourbon, Aperol and peach bitters. Perhaps our favorite is the one not pictured: a mix of mint-citrus syrup and Prosecco.
We started with appetizers: two hen eggs, pure local flavor. Then apple fritters with pickled chili aioli, and grilled octopus with olives. These seemingly incongruous ingredients are magic together; the flavors are surprising, thoughtful, balanced.
Same goes for the panna cotta with caramelized popcorn sauce (top right image). Imagine the taste of the movie theater without the crunch, paired with silky cream.
And here’s the money shot: sea urchin gnocchi. The bokeh really expresses the “choir of angels” feeling I had on my first taste. I usually find this type of pasta too chewy and starchy, and “uni” too rich and briney. But this is a completely different experience: melt-in-your-mouth bites of potato and ricotta, with a brush of sea urchin, Italian cayenne, mint and bottarga (cured fish roe).
I’m still reflecting on this meal; it’s honestly one of my favorites from this entire year. Thank you Andrew Zimmern for introducing us to your talented friends at Lincoln Restaurant. Can’t wait to show you the video footage we took with Jenn Louis.
Later, we went nightcrawling at The Lovecraft Bar (421 SE Grand Ave, Portland OR). It’s named after horror author HP Lovecraft, best known for his Cthulhu Mythos. I’m a fan of his writings, and have wanted to cross this venue off my “Goth bucket list” for some time.
Inside the (appropriately) small and dark club, his portraits and book covers line the wall. I was convinced that Lovecraft’s eyes would follow me, like in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”
The decor is a tribute to his universe. Tentacles represent Cthulhu, an Old God who looks like an octopus with claws and wings (much like my own). Lovecraftian symbols are everywhere, like this pentagram-like Necronomicon gate. Note the cute “No Entry” sign and my ever-present glass of absinthe.
Every first Friday of the month is a no-cover Goth night, called Brickbat Mansion. The DJs played highly danceable darkwave, post-punk, classic Gothic and shoegaze.
I won’t go into detail, but let’s say we had a bit too much fun on the dance floor. Portland locals are a friendly, kooky bunch. (My makeup is from Annabelle Cosmetics — love their creamy eyeshadows that match my new hair, and TwistUp lipstick crayons.)
Things got scandalous, when we got our hands on the balloons… We may or may not have left with a giant eyeball or two.
It doesn’t get better than this: celebrating Halloween in a sci-fi Goth party with my Pirate film crew. I’m lucky to be able to work with my friends, and glad that we can travel worldwide and shoot the topics we love. (Outfit and restaurant photography by Melissa Rundle; food closeups by me; Lovecraft images by First Mate Naomi.)
Much more Halloween shenanigans on the way, along with a video. I still have two costumes to show you!
PS: I’ve updated my travel TV hosting reel. Watch it above and on YouTube. The clips include Food Network, Today Show, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, CNN… How fun to see my hair change over time.
How do you like Portland’s spooky side? Thoughts on my new mermaid-colored hair?
PPS: If you’ve read H.P. Lovecraft and want to chat with me about his weird tales, I invite you to comment in this post or on my Facebook. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”