- Jan 28, 2009
this can only happen in portland.
In Portland, Oregon, a vegan strip club and the steak house-slash-strip club next door are locked in an intense rivalry; protests have ensued, and a wall has been erected between the two businesses. We spoke to several of the employees and customers to find out more.
Nine years ago, Casa Diablo, the world's only vegan strip club, opened in—you guessed it—Portland, Oregon, with a veggie-based menu and a ban on fur and leather onstage. It was years before Portlandia started spoofing the city's first-class weirdness, and at the time the idea seemed normal enough to locals, who have long bragged about having more nude bars and vegans per capita than any city in America.
But now the founder of Casa Diablo, Johnny "Diablo" Zukle, finds himself in a turf war. The vegan flesh peddler—who says he "puts the meat on the pole, not the plate"—recently opened a second branch of the club, Dusk 'Til Dawn: Casa Diabo 2, just feet from The Acropolis, a 35-year-old strip club-cum-steakhouse. The move angered Acropolis owner Bob Polizos, a proud carnivore who famously serves $7 ribeyes, and claims to raise some of the cattle himself on a nearby farm.
From there, things got stranger. A literal wall has been erected to keep a lid on any customer defections; hired security has been ratcheted up; and the clubs have been rocked by gun-toting drunks, family values protestors, and strippers quietly ordering food from the enemy. The proprietors of Acropolis are particularly unwilling to get along, saying that Casa Diablo is "a whorehouse" with "a bad reputation." (In 2015, Casa Diablo was sued by two strippers, who alleged they had been sexually harassed and denied back wages.)
How did it get this bad? It all started with "a good conspiracy theory." (Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.)