I first met Chris Ettrick in a venue dressing room. He towered over me, sipping tequila through a straw, and running a hand through his hair. For someone in his early twenties, I was struck by his cool demeanor and cunty quips. Ettrick is surely going to leave a lasting impression on comedy, and I asked the student-comedian-pole dance instructor-diva to give me insight into why and how he performs such self-deprecating jokes with grace.
Good evening sir! Actually, wait. Do you use male pronouns?
I do! But I prefer "Your Majesty."
Ha, so maybe you’re a good comedian. Maybe I’ve seen you perform only twice, but you struck me. You performed at Slutwalk Portland’s afterparty, at Dante’s in 2016; Slutwalk organizer Sterling Clark had booked you, and I was pleased that you were funny. Then I worked a room with you at a table for FunHouse Lounge and their TalkShow Named Desire.
I was only blacked out for one.
And it was my mistake that I gave another vodka-soda. You held it together quite well, and were you wearing heels? You have a wonderful way of dressing yourself when you perform, I can’t say that it’s anything like a Traditional Male outfit.
For the show at Dante’s, I was wearing these really awesome faux snake skin white wedges, but it’s a little fuzzy what I wore to TalkShow Named Desire.
You said you dress like an elderly Italian woman? Sicilian? I was drinking too. And you live in Portland. Do you ever get hassled or fucked with for wearing a drapey sweater and heels?
I do like to dress like fabulous old world, old women. I’ve never been harassed unless it was sexual, honestly. Less then a month ago a man who said he was bisexual almost went over a curb to tell me he liked my lips, which translated to me as, "You got a purdy mouth." And tried to get me to fellatio him in his car. I was on my way to my day job.
A stranger off the street?
Yes. He had two car seats in the back of his car.
Please tell me exact words for how he asked you to blow him.
It was a long interaction, that consisted of two parts, but the message burned in my mind goes like this:
"I know what you like."
"What does that mean?"
"I have a 9inch dick."
"I’m flattered, but no. Please don’t make me late to work."
"You got a problem with bi guys?"
"No, but I think I deserve a little dignity? Is that asking to much?"
"I can give you a ride. Why you teasin?"
"Thank you, no, I really don’t like that you have two car seats in the back of your car and you’re asking me this."
"My children don’t effect my sex life."
"I think that’s the problem...?"- I walk away seductively.
Why is it always the most insistent people have the biggest weiners.
Because the penis has a mind of its own. You can’t have a hormone-driven-appendange that powerful, and not.
So, why the seductive walk?
Because I felt justifiably objectified. I mean, I’ve paid a lot of money for this face. $18,000. My nose, my bottom and my top jaw and teeth. At first it was just the jaw, to expand the top one and dislocate and move the bottom one back, and a surgery to fix my "deviated septum." When I was younger I had braces, and that’s how we decided to fix my bite. At the time I weight about 260 lbs (how much does Chris weight now?) And I liked my nose, until the doctor mentioned it.
Do you feel like that was a worthwhile upsell?
Yeah! I’m happy with it now. The recovery was awful, but I feel like a can tell people that if they want plastic surgery, it’s worth the pain.
Did your family have any objections?
No, they paid for half!
At the Funhouse show you referenced a time when a family member shamed you for being gay, so I’m surprised that someone in your family would fund cosmetic surgery.
My mother at one point told me she’d kill me if I told her I was gay, because her very religious mother would be rolling in her grave. We all knew I was gay, but it was my mother’s way of trying to coax me into coming out (officially.) But I firmly believe in coming out when you’re ready, not when other people think you should.
So how did you give the grand reveal of your gayness?
I was in the car with my mother, and she asked about my "friend." I told her we broke up. She said, "You don’t break up with friends." And I said "Don’t be stupid. He was my boyfriend." She said." I just wanted you to tell me."
I was lucky in some ways, I had a gay uncle, and my parents were on a bowling league that was riddled with lesbians. So the concept of gay wasn’t foreign, they just wanted me to come to my own terms with it, and tell them. I appreciate that today, because it helped me create a personality outside of gay culture.
Why do you think that you waited longer than they wanted? Or why were they eager to have a definition?
They were eager to have definition. But isn’t everyone? I had openly gay people in my high school calling me a faggot, because I refused to say I was. It was totally turn off, because I wasn’t even sexual. I was a 300 pound Hot Topic goth that skipped school all the time to play video games and hang out in chat rooms.
I can think of many kids in school who were teased for "being fags," although I’m not sure what the determining factors were in measuring if someone was actually a "fag."
I don’t think there is a measure behind the meanness of words. That’s where comedy comes into play.
Is it strange that your sexuality is a slur?
Of course it is. Isn’t it strange that people’s skin color is?
I’ve only been called "whore" during any kind of conflict. What are your qualifiying slurs?
I have fought people that called me a fag, derogatorily. If a friend, or another gay person happens to call me it, I’d give them a "you only get a few of those." Looks. But other wise, that’s the only one. Or when my moms tell me I look like Adam lambert. I find that offensive.
I do enjoy your biting one liners and self-deprecation.
My comedy style is blue, and self-deprecating. This is because I try to translate the absurdity of being gay, to a straight audience. Yes, I cater to the audience, but it’s my secret way of getting people to be more accepting, when they realize the main thing we all have in common is: ridiculous relationships/past relationships/our partners.
And there is a difference in audience, I’m sure.
I have to get really clever when I work with a gay audience. With a gay audience, word play gets really important, because they can relate to these specific situations. Except for my anal joke, all audiences get that one.
And you’re a pole dance teacher?
I teach the intro class! I’ve been dancing with the studio for over a year, and have lost 70 pounds, and I’ve gained tons of strength. One of the owners is a good friend. Kiska is pro women, pro sex, pro dancer, body positive and inclusive. We have a fun comic about strippers on the wall that’s pro, but Kiska is Russian slang for pussy. I have like, five sweatshirts and sticker to that fact #kiskameanspussy.
Do you have any shows coming up?
I have one on 4/20 at Ground Kontrol.
And on April 25th at Alberta Rose Theater.
June 13-16th I’m doing a Gay Pride show in Eugene, too.
Do you have any closing thoughts on our city of Portland?
Portland is great! But it keeps shrinking if you ask me. I have an exit strategy to be in LA before I’m thirty.
I sure hope you make it down there; I hear they have lots of nice boutiques for heels and sweaters.
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