Where We Live: Weird Portland United

Multnomah County

Keep Portland weird

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Most locals know that Portland’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird.” Although Austin, Texas was the first to adopt the phrase, Portland is better known for it. The city’s weirdos are part of a not-so-exclusive club.

There are glimpses of weirdness all over town: from the silver statue that appears on a new street corner every day, to the eccentric bike racks the decorate the city’s boulevards.

We start at “The Peculiarium” in Northwest Portland. The bizarre gallery is filled with everything from Bigfoot, to aliens. It’s a true immersion into Portland’s weirdness.

“Weird to Portland is what makes Portland Portland,” said Brian Kidd. “Anything that makes us feel a little bit of prides in the city—that’s weird, that’s Portland, that’s us.”

Kidd is president of “Weird Portland United.” He is also known as “The Unipiper.”

Weird Portland United’s logo incorporates the iconic Benson Bubbler fountain. October 26, 2019 (Courtesy Weird Portland United)

“Where I got my weird start in Portland was on a unicycle, playing bagpipes and wearing different costumes—and shooting fire out of the bagpipes,” said Kidd.

He said “The Unipiper” celebrates weirdness. So, he started the non-profit “Weird Portland United.” The logo is a weirded-out version of Portland’s vintage, Benson Bubblers fountain. Eyeballs are balanced on the streams of water shooting out from the top, and purple tentacles extend from the bottom of the fountain. One tentacle is holding up a monocle.

“As we enter this new phase in our history, and everything is just growing so fast, I just wanted to make sure that weird spirit didn’t get lost in the mix,” said Kidd.

Recently, Kidd posed for a photo shoot with some of his favorite weird Portlanders, including the silver statue guy, drag queens Darcelle and Poison Waters, The Mermaid Lady, Elvis from the Saturday Market, Bud Clark the tavern owner who became mayor, and Music Millennium’s Terry Currier who brought the “Keep Portland Weird” motto to town. Even the recently retired Rojo the Llama was in attendance.

“I grew up in Portland,” said Lisa Freeman, co-owner of The Peculiarium. “So, I know that this weird underground Portland exists, and always has.”

“I want to make sure that Portland stays a place where everybody gets a chance to show off their weird side!” exclaimed Kidd.

Anyone can join “Weird Portland United.” They’re having their first-ever “Weird” Gala on November 7th in Northeast Portland. You can also order one of those posters online.

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