By the horns

Riding Portland's mechanical bull
By RICK WORMWOOD  |  November 29, 2006

061206_inside_bull
My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to go to the Stadium, the cavernous sports bar/restaurant on Congress Street, where any patron willing to sign the waiver can ride Portland’s only mechanical bull for free on Wednesday and Saturday nights; I was to ride the crude iron bovine and report back on the experience for Phoenix readers. All I knew about bull riding came from movies like Urban Cowboy and Stir Crazy, or maybe that Happy Days episode where Chachi and Mister C try to win Fonzie a meet-and-greet with the Lone Ranger by entering a mechanical bull-riding contest at the fair. And weren’t there a bunch of hot chicks on mechanical bulls in the “You Shook Me All Night Long” video? That wasn’t much to go on, but when my brain coughed up those pop culture touch-tones, it didn’t seem so intimidating. Hell, it wasn’t a real bull, and if Scott Baio, Tom Bosley, and Gene Wilder could do it, then I wasn’t afraid. Bring on El Toro!

The Stadium has plenty of space to designate a bull-riding area. Hell, they ought to put together a Jungle Room, too, so they could pull in the Elvis fans, since the place is practically a warehouse. From the way the patrons were getting so sloppily happy on the Wednesday night I was there, you would have thought that most of the people who were either riding the bull or just hanging out watching had recently turned 21. They were imbibing with great gusto, but not with a lot of skill, as if drinking legally was still a novel experience for them. Not only that, but gauging by this unruly crowd, it’s the nubile and intoxicated young women who do 90 percent of the bull riding. And they aren’t all gameface, either, intent on conquering the bull like a rodeo cowgirl. With one hand in the air as they started lazily spinning around on a low setting, most of the girls just used the bull as a substitute stripper’s pole, grinding the flower of their femininity up and down its back while shaking the rest of their junk to whatever song was playing, while their friends, each awaiting their own turn on El Toro, cheered. If you’ve ever wondered where the people who make those Girls Gone Wild videos find the women to participate in soft-porn video debasement, you’d be far less bewildered watching girl after girl trying to out-skank one another on the bull. It’s not so bad that they should have those antibacterial wipes available to sanitize the machine before the next rider climbs onboard, the way that supermarkets keep them beside the shopping carts to ease the concerns of germ haters, but the thought did occur to me. No, it wasn’t the classiest thing that anybody has ever seen, but if the Stadium ever becomes a Hooters (which has been in the works) Wednesday and Saturday bull riding will fit right in with the new corporate culture.

Jim Lynch, who is the emcee, the person who makes sure the release forms are correct and complete, as well as the man at the controls, is equal parts comedian and carnie. When one girl’s pants were a little low for leaning over the bull, he said she had won a “buttcrack bonus,” and when another young lady couldn’t stay on, he instructed her to “use your hips the way your uncle taught you to.”

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