As of Friday, March 2, 2018
The name Justin Buckles might not ring any bells for you right now, but they will.
Justin Buckles Productions, a Portland-based entertainment company, has been bringing its shows to the Columbia Gorge with the goal of providing “big city” entertainment to small towns.
“My focus from day one has been to provide “big city” entertainment to smaller cities that typically do not have ‘outside of the box’ entertainment,” said Buckles.
When he says, “outside the box,” he means his shows are not the type of thing you’d expect to find in small communities like those out here in the Gorge. Buckles produces Burlesque and Drag shows, at 21-and over venues, like the River City Saloon in Hood River.
“Eighty percent of my shows are either 18- or 21-and-over. Whenever I can produce an all-ages event, I certainly do. I’ve produced two all ages events in Hood River thus far and I am planning out a couple more for 2018. “
The first time he produced a show in the Gorge was in May of 2017. Buckles was contacted by the Columbia Gorge Pride Alliance to produce a fundraising show.
“The fundraiser went very well, and the ball has continued to keep rolling from then on,” said Buckles.
Buckles has since produced two more shows in Hood River with Halloween and winter holiday themes. His current aim is to produce monthly Cabaret Brunches beginning March 4.
Buckles was born and raised in Coos Bay, Ore., and has a 20-year background in “showbiz,” having worked as a production manager on shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Buckles moved to Portland in 2008 and debuted his production company in 2014 with a show called Caravan of GLAM, which was featured on America’s Got Talent and featured starts of the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
This experience inspired Buckles to take his other shows on the road. Right now, Buckles is producing shows in 14 states and will be in 20 states as well as Canada by the end of 2018.
Asked if given the opportunity would he bring his shows to White Salmon, Buckles said, “Yes! I take my shows in Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, etc. ... areas that one would NEVER imagine a Drag or Burlesque show taking place.
“I am extremely motivated and driven so any negativity that comes my way I just brush it off and move forward. I know that my shows are not for everyone which is why I don’t try to please everyone. It’s all about providing an outlet for the communities that I take my shows into more than anything else,” he added.
Regarding the upcoming cabaret shows Buckles wants people to know: “The shows are a fun, outside of the box, escape from the everyday stresses that consume our lives. My goal is to provide an entertaining couple of hours for folks. Walk through that door and let all those life stresses disappear for the afternoon.”