Resurrection of ErosNyx

April 3, 2014

Resurrection of Eros Nyx

By Josh the Terrible

Man, I remember the very first Burro party we had.  What a riot!  It was our “PLAYABOY Launch Party” for the release of our very first issue.   We had so many wonderful performers: an epic Battle Cat fight, Ari Lynn and I played “Who’s the Bitch” with those ridiculous oversized boxing gloves, Meg Russell Skyped in from Italy and did some contortion for us from half way ‘round the world, the Wanderlust Circus crew showed up later in the night and we played some craaazy balloon volleyball, and of course there was the Human Dessert thing…  I remember J Money and Blake Hicks showing up dressed exactly the same, face paint and everything.  I think that was the night Bass Laser (Jon Dutch) made his DJ debut too.  I also had two beautiful women at my side(s) that night, treating me like royalty.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that night.

Although that was the very first Burro party, it also happened to be the very last party at the old ErosNyx space.  In just a year and a half, Leaf and Steffi had transformed that place into a thriving community of creative individuals from various entertainment backgrounds: performers of all types, circus and clowns, musicians, various artists, dancers, photographers, and more.  And they all had a safe place to express themselves, both collectively and individually.

I, too, went to ErosNyx to find my place in this whole scene, to contribute to it in whatever way I could even though I was pretty unsure of what my role might be.  I mean, I didn’t have any extra special talents that would allow me to be much of a performer; I can’t juggle, I can’t do trapeze.  Shit, I can barely do a handstand.  Then along came an idea called Total Domination…  I finally had an opportunity to get involved with a unique and exciting production.  The premise was simple.  Two girls would wrestle and the winner of the match got to dominate the loser.…with a strap on.…in front of a live audience.  It was “the best fucking show in town” as I used to say.

Well anyway, one of the original owners and creators of the space, Leaf, asked me if I’d be interested in MC’ing the event.  I’d never MC’d before but considering how much I used to love old school professional wrestling, I couldn’t even think about saying no.  It ended up being a big success and each time we held the event, it got bigger and better.  People I’d never met would approach me on the street and ask, “When’s the next Total Domination?”

I also met some cool cats through Total Dom that I still work and play with today: Nik Sin, Paul Allen, Jeph Batori, Luka Bazooka and so many more connections that all started from those shows.  At one of the shows, I was at the brink of an altercation with Danger Ehren (from Jackass).  He had taken some pictures of the event (which was strictly forbidden) and wouldn’t delete them from his camera.  At the beginning of the show, I had promised the entire (sold out) audience that I would “punch anyone in the face that took pictures”.  Ehren taunted me, “Do it!  Do it!  Punch me in the face!”  Luckily, our security stepped in and we were able to avert the situation…

My favorite part about Total Domination though, was how much effort the girls put in to their characters and costumes. The Cosmic Wonder, Kiki Khaos, Cherry Bomb, Puta Pata Loca, The Jawbreaker, Blackya I. Susan… They were instant super stars.  I’ll never forget the time Cherry Bomb made her entrance to the ring with an alligator!  The looks on the faces in the crowd were priceless.

Oh, the good ol’ days.

There were many other events at the old space, all of which I have numerous unforgettable memories.  Josh Fitz’s Pink Elephant party where we turned people in to canvas and painted them with squirt guns, Graham Talley’s epic birthday party where I dressed up as a Minotaur, The Megabounce Colors after-party, and the infamous Clown Orgy…

Well, for a few reasons, we had to move out of the old space.  No reason more important than the fact that we had outgrown the place.  It was apparent that this community was continuing to grow, and we needed a bigger space.  So the hunt was on.  It was around this time that I began to express interest in becoming more involved in whatever new space we found.  I quit my comfortable, well-paying corporate job to pursue a life of passion.  We looked at several different warehouses over the next six or seven months but they all fell through for one reason or another.  Our broker called us up one day and said, “Well, there’s this new place on the market.  It’s probably too big for you guys but we can take a look if you want.”  We headed down there without much expectation, but almost immediately we began to see the potential of such a huge space.  “We could have a circus school over here, photo studios over there.  We could put a bar right here and do events in this other space.”  Suddenly, the ErosNyx dream was alive again.  Over the next four months or so, we assembled a team that would be able to manage such a large undertaking and hammered out all the details with the landlord.

Ryan Rogers came on board and brought with him a seemingly limitless wealth of information and experience, which has proven to be invaluable to this whole endeavor.  A very good friend of mine and successful entrepreneur, Brian (Mazzy) Mazzola, joined us not too long before we signed the lease on the building.  He works on Portlandia and is well connected to the local film industry.

As of this writing, we’ve been in the new space three months or so.  It’s still very much a work in progress but we’ve managed to host a lot of fun and creative activities already.  Events like Don’t Panic, Love the Underground, and The Burro’s own BAD ASS party.  Independent film productions, various photo shoots, aerial and acrobat rehearsal.  And, of course, ErosNyx is now home to The Burro headquarters!

Most recently, we had the privilege of hosting Soren High’s outreach organization, Nude for the Needy, where strippers make blankets and care packages to distribute to Portland’s homeless.  We even had Channel 2 News down there to do a segment on this awesome group of people who simply want to help their community in meaningful ways.

I sat down with Mazzy at the new space one afternoon and talked a little about what we’ve got in store for everyone.

Mazzy:  Tell me a little about what’s going on here.

Josh the Terrible:  Yeah, check out this old player piano I got from Goodwill for, like, fifty bucks. It’s over a hundred years old.  I want to get it fixed up so I can put a monkey on it to play the piano in the middle of the bar.  It’ll be great…  We’ve started the process of acquiring our liquor license so that we can run a full service bar here.  Our space is laid out perfectly to host nightly entertainment.  Comedy shows, open mics, karaoke.

Anyway, we’ve had a couple of big shows here so far and it’s been really well received.  The whole community has come out in support. We must have had thirty DJs one of those nights.  It was ridiculous!

We have a huge art studio moving in.  A couple of guys who have run successful galleries in the past are going to be bringing world-class artists to our space.  We’re thrilled for the opportunities to collaborate with them.

Mazzy:  So how did it all happen?  How did you get to where we are now?

Josh the Terrible: Here’s the story. We ran ErosNyx at the old space, the one everyone is familiar with, and we had to move out for various reasons.  I think a good portion of the community felt like it was never going to happen again, like what we had was a really special and unique thing, and “it was what it was.”  And even I started to feel that way.  I was at the point of giving up.  I said, “If the next one doesn’t pan out, I need to focus on other things,” because I was putting a lot of time and energy into it.  This was something that had to work.

Our vision at the time was that the new space would be a bigger, better version of the old space, but what we didn’t really expect was that we were going to bring on a couple of new partners, and they were both going to bring lots of talent and open doors for us to entire scenes that we weren’t familiar with.  Ryan produces shows with celebrities downtown and we weren’t really used to that.  At the old space we had a couple of celebrities stop by for an after-party, but nothing like this. Then you came along and have all these connections to the film industry, and that’s something we weren’t really used to either.  I’m real excited to see the film industry and the creative, circus and performance worlds come together here.  Just to see those joining forces and seeing what happens.  I don’t think Portland has done that in a big scale, successful way yet, and I feel that happening.

The feedback we got at the old space, more than anything, was that it was a place of acceptance.  So many people would say, “I’ve never felt so accepted in my whole life”, and hearing that kind of feedback is really special because we didn’t go into it necessarily with that vision, it just kind of worked out that way.

John Klein from Portland Productions happened to be dropping off a load of gear and we asked him a few questions.

Mazzy: So you’re going to be a big part of the resurrection of ErosNyx, what kind of energy do you feel that you’re bringing to the space?

John Klein: Well, I’m doing a lot of creative design, there are a lot of technical challenges to overcome in a rough space and we’re really looking to incorporate a visual medium with all the music and creative experiences that people are going to bring here. Should be a pretty good mix.

Mazzy: So the infrastructure that you’re adding to the space, how do you see it translating to the overall sense of artistry and community that is going to occur here?

John: I think it sets the bar up to sort of a minimum threshold that they’re able to easily reach, instead of having to come into a space and do all this backend work in order to even get the space ready for what they plan on doing.

Mazzy: You just started your project here, what are you going to be doing?

John: The first project is working with Megabounce and the Wanderlust Circus. We’re going to be installing infrastructure, sound, lights, and staging for the Grand Opening party.

Mazzy: The way you’re transforming the space, how does that make you feel about changing something that used to be a warehouse into something that is now an event space?

John: I’m always excited to work with raw warehouse spaces. I’m not competing against anyone but myself, so I have to challenge myself to come in and do a better job at doing what I do every day. It’s my favorite part of warehouse parties.

John scurries off to finish loading in more gear.

Josh the Terrible:  We are absolutely thrilled to have someone like John Klein come along. The collaboration that is already happening in the space, as I was saying, we’re taking it to a level that we couldn’t have even imagined. We moved into this space and said, “Wow, awesome, we get to play.”  If you had been here the first few weeks, you would have seen some of the silly stuff we were doing, like chasing each other around with penis and vagina costumes, shooting canons on skateboards, and of course the already infamous Thanksgiving party.

Mazzy:  So you’re saying that what ErosNyx needed was more energy to come in and totally transform it.

Josh the Terrible:  Yeah, totally.  I guess that’s something we probably knew, but we had no way of predicting what that energy was going to be.  Things have happened already that I couldn’t have expected.  I’m humbled, I’m thrilled, I’m excited, and it’s a really interesting place for me to be because of my own back story.  The way I got here is… just phenomenal.  For me to be in this position is really strange; I feel a certain duty to this community and this family to do it right, to make it comfortable and safe for people to come and express themselves and let their creativity flow.  I feel like there’s other places in town that are creative centers and they have collaboration as well, but I think we allow a bit more than some other places would.  And I think that’s a really special thing.

Mazzy:  The platform that ErosNyx stood on previously was that it fostered the fringe community.  Is it possible that in this incarnation that it’s going to be more accessible to different kinds of creative people, to offer more opportunities to make the fringe more popular?

Josh the Terrible:  I think it has to.  From my perspective, I kind of feel like I’m in the crosshairs.  The Burro aims to shine a light on the underground culture and, I guess you could say, fringe communities.  And on the other end, along with my partners, I’m running and managing ErosNyx, who helps foster that as well.  I’m in the right place at the right time to really show off what this city and what this community has to offer.  I really do feel like we catered to the fringe before, and to bring that here, to a space that has much more potential and much more to offer, will not only cater to the fringe but it’ll bring everything else this city has to offer.  That’s really hard to put into words because the only thing I have to count on is that I don’t know what’s going to come along.  If there’s anything that’s been proven to me so far, it’s that my wildest dreams are going to be blown away.

I interrupt Leaf when he comes down the stairs (obviously in the middle of doing something important).

Josh the Terrible:  Tell us about the resurrection of ErosNyx. How did that happen from your perspective?

Leaf:  Well, in the first space, I wanted a warehouse essentially so I could have a shop.  And I would rent it out to other people so that they could pay for the space and help me fund having a shop.  But me having a warehouse so that I could build anything and all of that, has been a dream since I was a child.  The first warehouse was 2,500 sq ft, we were there for 19 months, and we apparently built up quite a following and quite a space that people loved to be in.  Then we spent a year after that space closed searching for another space.  I was hoping to find 5,000 sq ft, maybe 7,000, but that didn’t exist in this town, they’ve all been snatched up.  So it was either this space, which is 37,000 sq ft, or nothing.  Steff and I knew that if we didn’t have partners that we could never do this, so we drug all of you guys into this ridiculous space where people can make their dreams happen.  So that was sort of the resurrection; a year of searching and planning.

Josh the Terrible:  When we closed the old space down, there was always the plan to open a new space.

Leaf:  We were hoping to jump right in from the old space to the new, and there was a short time where we had found some people and another vacant warehouse that was 50,000 sq ft, two stories and a big private entrance down by the railroad tracks, it was beautiful.  But that one totally fell through at the last minute.  And then we stumbled onto this place.

Josh the Terrible: What’s really exciting to me are the new collaborators who are coming along.  We wouldn’t have expected that or seen that coming at the old space.

Leaf:  I think the best compliment I got at the old space, a couple of guys walked in, and they said, “This is seedy”, and then they walked out.  I took that as a compliment, but we’re trying to not be seedy now and have a clean-looking warehouse, though we were starting to work towards that at the old space too.  Just before we closed, all the painting was done and it was looking really sharp, and then we had to go.  And they tore it all down, destroyed it all, now it’s a CrossFit gym.  I don’t want this place to be seedy, but I want it to have that warehouse-y, bohemian feel.

Mazzy:  Does the second coming of ErosNyx have a greater meaning for you?

Leaf:  It does. The first space, we never finished construction, and for 19 months it was a struggle to pay rent, do build out, fix the space, try to make people’s dreams happen, and never getting to my own dreams.  In this space—even though we’re three months into it and I still haven’t done my dream yet—it feels more organized.  The old space was a crash course in how to run a warehouse, how to run an event space, how to organize…

Josh the Terrible: That experience has been crucial for us in this space.

Leaf:  Yeah, it’s huge, it’s massive.  At the old space, even at 2,500 sq ft, I’d get tired just running around that place. Now I have 37,000 sq ft to run around. But all of that chaos, all the craziness that went on there, was a crash course in literally how to do this.  Even the rough times here are smoother than in the old place.  At the old place I was just making it up as I went. This time, with the people that are brought on board, it’s not just me and Steff [Elle] struggling to make this happen.  Here we have partners, we’ve got people who can help, and there are other ideas.  Before, when it was just my vision, people had ideas but it was up to me to make it all happen.  Here it’s a lot more collaborative.

And thus we embark on a grand adventure together utilizing all of the many talents this city (and beyond) has to offer.  At the heart of the resurrection of ErosNyx is a strong desire to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.  We want to make people’s dreams come true more than ever.

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