Tag Archives: Back Fence PDX

Free Tix For Next Back Fence Available SOON!!

HOLD THE PHONE! Tickets for our Jan. 23, 2012 show — I DIDN’T THINK THIS THROUGH — will become available online on Tuesday Jan. 3 at 10am. This show is FREE due to a generous community grant received by Portland Center Stage. Don’t miss the kick-off of our 2012 season, featuring Laurie Notaro, Mary Van Note (pictured), Carli Davidson, and other awesome people!

Keep up to date on all Back Fence PDX news and announcements by following us on Twitter (@backfencepdx) or LIKE us on Facebook.


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Filed under I Didn't Think This Through

Fave Radio Host DARIA Tells of Her Teen Past!

DARIA ELIUK spins her personal stories on 101.5 THE BUZZ on a near daily basis. It was awesome to have her LIVE on the Back Fence stage telling her ‘That’s a Mouthful’ story! You can purchase a CD from CD Baby of Daria telling more stories, “THE BEST OF DARIA’S LOCAL ENTERTAINMENT GUIDES VOLUME I” (JUST CLICK HERE!). All net proceeds from the purchase of this CD go to benefit DOVE LEWIS, Portland’s only nonprofit 24-hour emergency and critical care animal hospital.  

And, we love a foxy and smart lady who is willing to divulge details such as the following for her introduction on stage: “I saved all my chicken pox scabs in a baby food jar.” 

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DYNAMIC sister duo added as Storytellers!




 + 21 and over ONLY +



 introducing our awesome storytellers* (in alphabetical order)


Radical Social Worker + Undefeated Leg Wrestler in 4 States


KRSK “the Buzz” (105.1 FM) + Once a Summer Camp Counselor


Former Paratrooper + Write Bloody Publishing


Born in Dublin + Lived in Japan, Argentina, and Cape Cod


SHELLEY McLENDON & WENDI McCLENDON-COVEY (telling a story in tandem!)

Roadhouse: The Play! + Once an Awesome McMenamins Waitress & Bridesmaids + RENO 911 + Hillshire Farms Sausage Spokesperson

And the MOMENT IN THE SHOW you’ve come to LOVE!!!!

Our super exciting LIGHTNING ROUND!! FIVE randomly drawn audience members will have a chance to strut their narrative stuff by doing their best to tell an entire THAT’S A MOUTHFUL story in just ONE MINUTE!


You can RESERVE tickets for our upcoming show through this site, but the actual tickets will be purchased at the door for $12.00 the night of the show. 

Reserved tickets will be guaranteed until fifteen minutes prior to the start of the show. To expedite the ticketing process please bring CASH the night of the show to purchase your tickets.









*Storytellers subject to change

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PRESENTING our JULY BACK FENCE PDX Storytelling SHOW (AND…A portion of the proceeds will BENEFIT FOR ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CAMP FOR GIRLS!*)

This show is 21 yrs and over ONLY.


:: Check out our amazing storytellers ::

KERRY COHEN :: Psychotherapist + Author of Loose Girl

BRUCE OBERG :: Co-Founder of Sucker Punch, makers of the INFAMOUS + SLY COOPER Playstation games

LUCINDA JANE HOLSCHER :: 12-Year-Old from Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp for Girls

JIMMY RADOSTA :: Mortified Favorite + Andy Rooney Fan

BOB McCOY :: Forest Park Park Ranger + Lapsed Quaker

DALE CHUMBLEY :: Realtor + 3rd Generation Vancouverite 

And the MOMENT IN THE SHOW you’ve come to LOVE!!!! Our super exciting LIGHTNING ROUND!! FIVE randomly drawn audience members will have a chance to strut their narrative stuff by doing their best to tell an entire CAMP story in just ONE MINUTE!

You can RESERVE tickets for our upcoming show through this site, but the actual tickets will be purchased at the door for $15.00 the night of the show. A percentage of tickets sales will go to ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CAMP FOR GIRLS!!! Our audience will cover the costs to send one girl to camp, all expenses paid!!! 

Reserved tickets will be guaranteed until fifteen minutes prior to the start of the show. To expedite the ticketing process please bring CASH the night of the show to purchase your tickets.




HOW MUCH: Since this is a benefit all tickets will be $15 at the door!


 *This benefit will send a girl to Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp for Girls, all expenses paid!

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls is run by devoted staff and volunteers who believe passionately in the mission of the camp. They teach, coach, mentor, manage, direct, fund-raise, plan programming, mentor, and so much more. Female instructors, coaches, band managers, and even the administrative team share their experience and skills in music with the students, campers, and interns who seek mentorship. Rock Camp staff and volunteers provide examples of leadership, team work and self-direction with the hope of giving back some of the encouragement and inspiration they receive from the Camp’s amazing students.


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Filed under CAMP

Tickets for June 17th on Sale Now!

Tickets for Caught Red-Handed are on sale now!

Tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door.

On Wednesday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mission Theater, Back Fence PDX will take the stage with great people telling unmemorized, true eight-minute stories based on the theme, Caught Red-Handed. In addition, a swimsuit fashion show featuring suits from Popina will be held at 7:15 p.m. and Tinymeat will give away wallets at intermission.

Presenting our June storytellers:

Pema Teeter
is a ghostwriter living in Portland, OR. When fully materialized, she writes plays and gives public readings of her novel in progress. Her plays have been produced in NYC, San Diego, Albuquerque and Portland. You can join her at her blog at www.parkbenchdaily.blogspot.com.

In his day job, Jeff Hardison tries to grow an advertising agency by speaking at conferences from here to the edge of Florida. At night, he reverses his progress by making a fool of himself on less corporate stages. In the past year, he has performed in the play Talking Dogs (Fertile Ground Festival at Gerding Theater), as well as debuted Five Things Portland Can Learn From Kentucky in Five Minutes (Ignite Portland Four). Hardison sometimes plays drums in local clubs when he can drag on stage his busy bandmates in Hello Damascus.

Rael Dornfest is the UX engineer of Twitter, and was formerly the Chief Technology Officer at O’Reilly Media. He is Series Editor of OReilly’s Hacks series, and has co-authored a number of books including Google Hacks , Mac OS X Panther Hacks, and Google: The Missing Manual.

Nicole J. Georges is an illustrator, educator and pet portrait artist living in Portland with her two dogs, Beija and Wishbone Georges. She is the author of the autobiographical comic-zine Invincible Summer, and has toured the country with the infamous Sister Spit Ramblin’ Road Show.  Nicole is most proud of being voted “Miss Specs Appeal 2006” by the zine Hey Four Eyes!, and plans on clinging to this achievement (in an almost Baby Jane like fashion) for as long as possible. www.nicolejgeorges.com

Eric Schniewind has at various times considered himself a geologist, writer, actor, improviser, carpenter, and musician during his adult life (though the musician part is kind of a stretch…actually so are a few of the others). During his childhood he considered himself very adept in getting cookies from the neighbors. Most recently his accomplishments include…include….uh…..must be something…oh wait…writer for the live sketch series Soap Street Theater.  That and the chicken coop he built after way too many weeks went by. http://www.soapst.com.

Descending from a long line of family bakers, it is only fitting that Jami Curl now finds herself at the helm of Portland’s own Saint Cupcake. Before embarking on a life filled with sugar, flour and sprinkles, Jami worked as Hungarian kindergarten teacher, a teen advice columnist and (for one morning,) a marketer of playground equipment. Currently, Jami’s favorite thing to do is listen to her 2-year old talk.They really do say the darndest things.

Viva Las Vegas has been baring it allin writing and in the fleshfor over twelve years. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Portland Mercury, and many other publications. Her first book, Magic Gardens, is due out in August 2009. She fronts the band Coco Cobra and the Killers. http://vivacide.com

Back Fence PDX is an evening with people telling their true eight-minute stories based on the month’s theme. The stories must not have been performed publicly prior to their Back Fence PDX telling. We are also a blog with a weekly story by a writer, blogger, or someone with an unusual story about the topic.

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Filed under Caught Red-Handed

Back Fence PDX, Mortified, and True Stories All Together

On May 7th at 7:30pm, Back Fence PDX, Mortified, and True Stories all take to the stage together at the Bagdad Theater!

Word to your Mother — It’s an evening of true tales about moms, in celebration of Mother’s Day. (You got her a card right? And put it in the mail?)

And Saint Cupcake is giving away cupcakes!

Join us!

Tickets are on sale here.

More information at wordtoyourmotherpdx.com.

And, of course, grab this cool image!


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Filed under Word to your Mother

Back Fence PDX Happens April 22nd! Get Free Stuff!

Back Fence PDX happens on April 22nd at The Mission (1624 NW Glisan). Doors open at 6 for dinner and drinks, and the show starts at 7:30.


And because we love giving away the goods, we’ll hand out our awesome Back Fence PDX buttons from One Inch Round, and Tinymeat will be there giving away 25 free wallets! To get a pin, just be there! To get a wallet, take the Tinymeat pledge during the intermission, which will not give you tiny meat, but will include information on the Tinymeat warehouse sale and sausagefest on April 25th— free finger food!

Grab this image and post it on your digital refrigerator. Or on your blog and in email to friends.


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Filed under Fish Out of Water

Back Fence PDX is Today!

Tonight at 7:30pm at Urban Grind East (2214 NE Oregon St) six storytellers will tell six minute long, true, unmemorized stories. RSVP here. Details are in the sidebar.

Check the video below for a wonderful example of the power of the live story. We asked Nate (@xolotl for Twitter-ites) of Xolotl.org to tell a story totally spontaneously. And he did.

Live storytelling — the original social network.

Join us.


Filed under True Colors

Summer Love Featuring Ainsley Drew


The fish market I worked at the summer when I was twenty-four was nestled between a bakery and a cheese shop, on a stretch of West Village blocks associated with Sex and the City and snotty NYU students. I hated my job and only derived pleasure from interacting with neighborhood locals and setting up the display every morning in the single floor-to-ceiling window that helped to raise the temperature and the stink inside the tiny shop to new heights.

It was July. I wore light cotton dresses along with huge rubber boots to keep my feet dry. I tried not to fall asleep in the office even though I was plagued with what can only be described as a rapid descent into insomnia following night after sleepless night in my newly empty bed, next to the space where my domestic partner had snored every night for the first half of my twenties. I hadn’t had sex more than three times in the last six months prior to our bust-up. At that age, at that point, with my newly-found freedom and my now notorious sex-drive, I was basically walking around with a water-balloon between my thighs. But I couldn’t recall how to so much as check out a girl, let alone start up a conversation that would lead to me going down on her. After giving her the heave-‘ho all I had left was a bad stand-up routine about the “scales of justice” and no audience except cold slabs of marine life and four Nepalese employees who didn’t speak English. I stared out the window a lot. The heat made the eccentrics who populated the area around Washington Square Park roam the streets and move like interpretive dancers.

There was a little boy who had started smoking cigarettes regularly in front of my shop over the course of one week. He leered at me in a way that was half-adorable, half-creepy as I arranged the rainbow trout and soft shell crabs on a bed of ice in the window. I wondered why the Catholic school down the block would let their summer school students smoke, or why this boy didn’t seem to care, cocking his eyebrow as he’d swagger in front of the store, unbuttoning the top button of his short sleeve button down shirt, tapping his Camel Lights against his thigh. One day he sauntered inside and leaned over the counter, close enough that I could smell the Winterfresh gum on his cigarette breath.

“I’m Liz. I have lupus. I work down the block. You should hang out with me. Now.”

That night, after work, I had my first orgasm since the World Series of the previous year. On my back in my hallway, keys still stuck in the lock-barrel, sweat and the smell of dead fish rendering me the olfactory equivalent of a Renee Zellweger movie, I had this strange tomboy literally rip a skirt off of me. Liz, who was not so much a schoolboy as a female version of every guy I wanted but couldn’t have during puberty, gave my the best oral sex of my life up until that point. It was pretty awesome. It finally made me sleep; Liz sprawled out next to me, sweating until half of the bed was soaked, one of the symptoms of her disease. She didn’t snore.

That joke about a lesbian second date involving a U-Haul is only funny because it is true. Ten days later Liz, three days worth of her clothes, her ashtray, and a carton of unfinished cottage cheese were still taking up residence in my studio apartment. Her wardrobe mingled in my laundry, she insisted on putting half-finished bottles of beer in my fridge, and the feeling of wet bed sheets — either made damp by my fluids or hers — was starting to get to me. I needed my space and I needed it now. After four years of hearing someone breathe, blink, and chew I wanted a little, just a little, time to myself. And I was starting to think that the Prednisone she took for her lupus was making her crazy. I wouldn’t let her smoke pot in my house and was grounds enough for a three-hour long tantrum. She’d start crying at a bar and run out into the warm, thick New York air sobbing, grab me by the shoulders to spout some inane and melodramatic dialog that made a Lifetime made-for-TV movie seem like an episode of Nova.

All I wanted was conventional dating with a lot of naked Twister. Liz, however, wanted a typical dyke union where you rush into things unknowingly, drop the “l” bomb way too fast, and then inevitably crash and burn in an ugly pile of Kleenex, Ani DiFranco albums, and Tofutti Cutie wrappers. And the guilt of breaking the heart of someone with a chronic condition seemed like grounds for a soap opera.

When I gently approached her as she reclined on the couch, hand behind her belt-buckle, and asked if maybe, maybe, tonight would be the night she’d retreat back to her five-person share in Hell’s Kitchen, she leapt up, grabbed my face between her hands and hollered, “Babe, what we have is for real!” Her hand was up my skirt before I could even locate a grocery bag in which to put her stuff.

I wanted so badly to believe that the sex could at least last until autumn, that my tolerance for someone so unstable, so entirely batshit insane, would endure. But no. I caught her smoking a joint in my apartment (with my doorman) on a late Friday afternoon after being dispatched from the fish market following another failure of our air conditioning system. I threw her out, used her office’s proximity as motivation to quit my job, and went on to become a vegan.

I learned that a New York summer, fish, and serious unions in your early twenties, all usually fade into something that reeks.


Filed under Summer Love: Lying out at Burning Up

Summer Love: Featuring Jess Under Construction


A few weeks before we packed all of our belongings into the backseat of an aging, blue VW Rabbit and drove the 2500 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Portland, Oregon, my soon-to-be mother-in-law sat my soon-to-be husband, Chris, down, looked him in the eye, and told him, “If you marry Jess and move to Oregon you will be making the biggest mistake of your life.”

Chris told me about the comment later that day. We knew his parents were not thrilled about his plans, but no one had flatly told him that he SHOULDN’T pledge his life to me and move west. But there it was. At the time, it felt like a slap across the face. I see it now for what it was–a warning, which could have been said to either of us, that we were too young to know ourselves, much less know the immense sacrifice required during the life of a marriage. How could we possibly make it work—especially half a continent away from the support of our families? Jesus, we didn’t even have jobs. Obviously, his mother could see, we did not fathom what it takes to pay the bills and sustain a relationship. Why were we investing in each other and not everything we’d worked for in college: our careers?

Chris, an obedient only-child, ignored his parents’ warnings, closed his eyes, and jumped into the abyss that is marriage. I look at pictures from that summer—1997. We were 23. Babies. What were we thinking?

And I think of my now six-year old son, an only child as well. What if he were to graduate from college and cavalierly announce his intention to commit his life—60+ more years—to his college sweetheart. Oh, not only that, but that he was going to pack his camping gear and clothes in the back of some old beater and move five states away—just ‘cuz he and his honey thought it sounded like a sweet place to live. I’m sure my response would be, “WTF???” or maybe, “I just paid $75,000 in college tuition for you to make the biggest mistake of your life.”

When I was 23, I didn’t know the ferocious love a parent has for a child. All I knew was puppy love. That is what the summer of 1997 was all about. We sold almost everything we owned—John Cougar Mellencamp and Pink Floyd CD’s. Umbro shorts. Indian weave ponchos. The dorm room hot-plate. Everything. And it felt good. A fresh start. We weren’t scared–it was us against the world. How could it not work?

It was hot the day we left. The humidity seemed to melt the leaves on the trees. The air vibrated with mosquitoes. Driving away, we held hands and sang Indigo Girls songs. Our new dog, Milo, was curled up among our sleeping bags in the back seat.
We had no jobs waiting for us in Portland. It didn’t matter. We were armed with our freshly earned bachelor’s degrees, his in Biology and mine in English and Women’s Studies. We had that and our puppy love. We were invincible.

We arrived in Portland a week later. Stinkier, but just as happy. We pulled into the parking lot of the small apartment we were renting and unloaded our gear. It took two trips to and from the car. The next morning I went to the Thriftway up the street on SE Tacoma (it’s a New Seasons now) to buy some ramen noodles. The “Now Hiring” sign in the store seemed like, well, a sign. So, I asked for an application. The manager was surprised to find a recent college graduate was applying for a job as a cashier, but we got along well and he hired me on the spot. I practically skipped back to the apartment. I rustled Chris from the bed—which was really just our sleeping bags on the floor—and told him of my good luck. We decided to celebrate with a picnic at Sellwood Park.

Spread out on the grass above Oaks Bottom, we ate granola bars and blackberries that we picked along the way. Milo chased squirrels. Children played freeze tag. It took us about fifteen minutes before we noticed that there was no humidity and not a mosquito in sight. We snuggled and talked about how much we loved each other and our new Portland life.

The next morning I went to work at Thriftway, and Chris went to work at LaborReady, a business that assigns one-day jobs usually entailing hauling boulders, digging ditches, or some other equally brutal project. We spent that evening and most subsequent evenings crashed out at Sellwood Park imagining our future—better jobs, a house, maybe a baby. We’d lie under the towering pines, overwhelmed with the newness and endless opportunities of each day. And always, we’d notice—no humidity and no mosquitoes.

After a time, we made friends and hosted dinner parties. Our salaries provided just enough money for food and rent. When we had people over we had to borrow utensils from the neighbors because all we had were two spoons and two forks from our camping cook set. Cutlery was not a luxury we could afford. Yet, the living room/dining room was a warm, happy place where the pine-tree smelling air blew in our large windows and laughter floated back out.

I try to picture my son in 17 years. What if he lived like that? Content to live in a crappy little apartment with almost no kitchen accoutrements and even less furniture. Content to work long hours performing grueling physical labor while his partner worked the cash register at the local market. Both for minimum wage and no health insurance. Content to invest only in love…not his career. Isn’t he going to be working in the Peace Corps or starting medical school? Anything less will feel like failure—not his, but mine.

We are approaching our eleventh summer since we arrived in Portland. That was two houses, a master’s degree, and a child ago. Puppy love is now almost-middle-aged love. Milo is still hanging on. We still spend the warm months in the park—only now it’s Peninsula, not Sellwood. We still marvel at the lack of mosquitoes and humidity.

May is fast turning into June. The piney, sunny, blackberry filled days bring me right back to 1997—when my husband made the biggest mistake of his life.

May my son be so lucky.


Filed under Summer Love: Lying out at Burning Up