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Viva Las Vegas is a preacher, just like her Lutheran minister father. Unlike her father, Viva preaches, "Thank you for supporting the arts," to people who throw bills on stage while she dances naked in a dark Portland strip club. The writer, singer, scholar, and stripper has been a leader for women in a lifelong battle against cultural expectations. Viva celebrates the female form, advocates for the empowerment of all women, and commands respect for women whose careers depend on their bodies. A shocking breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy did not dampen her missionary zeal, and Viva continues to dance, scars and all, reminding the rest of us that art is everywhere and art is everything.
April 25 2018
“That’s all you have on at the end of the day, the music and your shoes.” That’s how Viva Las Vegas, the subject of the documentary Thank You for Supporting the Arts, describes her day job at Mary’s Club. But when the Portland stripper/writer/musician discusses her philosophy about stripping, it’s clear there’s much more at work. “The sacred feminine is something that just isn’t seen,” she says, echoing a sentiment that Thank You for Supporting the Artstakes pains to illustrate.
April 30th 2018
Liv Osthus, better known as Viva Las Vegas, offers something unique in the erotic-dancing world: herself.
Rather than athletic pole-dancing moves and a thousand-mile stare, Osthus lounges on the stage, smiles at customers, and engages them in conversation.
"Her gift is the connection she makes," says Carolann Stoney, the co-director of a new documentary about Osthus.
July 10, 2017
"She just would come alive on stage," her mother says, remembering how much Liv loved to perform even as a little girl. Christine Osthus' eyes dart about the room and then settle again on her interviewer. "I guess," she says with a sigh, "I thought she would become an actress, you know, in regular plays."
Liv's father winces at his wife's words. The longtime Lutheran pastor is sitting beside Christine with a pained look on his face that suggests he'd rather be talking about absolutely anything else. "Who wants their kid to do that," Mark Osthus finally says, "if they could be a rocket scientist if they wanted to?"
November 23, 2018
Midway through Thank You for Supporting the Arts, Carolann Stoney and W. Alexander Jones’ documentary about the Portland-based writer, stripper, and musician Viva Las Vegas — born Liv Osthus — Viva shares an unsentimental anecdote from her childhood. One afternoon, Viva, the daughter of a Lutheran minister, refused to wear a dress to church. Her parents left her at home, so she biked to church herself, then hid way up in the balcony seats, watching her father’s sermon alone, feeling heartbroken. “I went to church in my blue jeans,” she says. The anecdote serves as a tell: this, she seems to declare, is who I’ve always been.
Thank You for Supporting the Arts was an official selection at the Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival last month, but I watched it on an anxious day at home, where Viva’s generous voice filled the quiet. She owes at least some of her local celebrity status in Portland to this unwitting tenderness. It’s unaffected and immense, which is why the incredulity of her family — with regards to how seriously she takes her career — starts to feel vexing.
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