Magic Gardens

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“I’m a stripper, rocker, bartender, and writer. I had a lot of plans last year, but none of them involved breast cancer. The disease sidetracked my livelihood, threatened my life, and forced me to reinvent my chest. So far, I’ve lived to tell the tale.”
-Viva Las Vegas

Portland legend Viva Las Vegas has fronted a punk-rock band, Coco Cobra and the Killers, appeared in a couple of Gus Van Sant films and written for The New York Times and Village Voice. She is also one of Portland’s best-known strippers. Her memoirs are long awaited.

Last year while looking for a publisher, Viva discovered she had breast cancer. Viva wrote about her diagnosis and mastectomy in a piece for the Portland Monthly: The Last Days of My Left Breast She describes the piece as “a travelogue of my journey through the wilds of breast cancer, and an ode to a body part that always more than did its job.”

Now, recovering, and retired from the stage, having made her last appearance at Mary’s to the soundtrack of The Stones’ “Doncha Bother Me”, Viva publishes her memoirs Magic Gardens this month.


Karen is from the UK and currently lives in Hawaii. She has an MA from University College London and has been published in Spread magazine, Trazzler and Cantaraville. More from this author →