When asked what her week looks like, Kaki Marshall replies without a hint of irony: “Mondays and Thursdays I have drag king practice with the River City Riders, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays I work in a government meth lab. No, seriously.” That leaves Kaki Marshall Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to plan Portland, Ore.’s most kick-ass lesbian dance parties. Marshall worked in music promotion for 20 years before she moved to Portland in 2006.
“The feeling of putting on a huge fest for throngs of beautiful homos that raised thousands for people who make incredible differences in all our lives? That seriously does it for me!”
When she arrived, Pop Tart, a deep-grooves girl party at Holocene in Southeast Portland, was a sexier alternative to the city’s only lesbian bar, dubbed the E-Room. With the encouragement of longtime friend and Pop Tart founder Shoshanna Oppenheim, Marshall took the party from a Sunday afternoon romp to an edgy all-night ladyfest.
Marshall’s reputation drew in DJ superpowers and helped launch her next and most popular party, Double Down.“We employ resident DJs from across the LGBTQ spectrum, and that is the crowd we are catering to,” she says.
“I am a 37-year-old lesbian,” says Marshall. “But it has felt important to me in the recent past to identify as queer. I found myself feeling alienated by some of the older lesbians in my life a few years back. A few select groups tended to I have ever seen and I have come to realize that ‘lesbian’ is mine to reclaim.”
Marshall wants to unite her fellow queer folk through causes. Her newest venture, Lube Job, pits well-known members of the community against each other in a 10-foot-long pool of lube to raise money for their favorite local nonprofit.
“I feel that the community is stronger and healthier when we all play together,” says Marshall. “Parties are fun. But let’s do something with all that positive energy.”