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  • OHara Shipe

The legend of Wicked Wanda, Chilkoot Charlies' senior bartender

Chilkoot Charlies bartender Wicked Wanda

Wanda Prince’s flaming red manicured nails and an engraved golden ring with the word “Chilkoot’s” peep out from underneath her long black jacket as she reaches for her glass of wine. It’s a slow Monday night at Koot’s, but Prince blends in so well with the surrounding bar that if it weren’t for her nails, you might miss her entirely. But once you grab a seat next to this vivacious 87-year-old, you’ll never overlook her presence again.

“My first night on the job, I had a guy come in and ask me to show him my boobs for $5. Since I didn’t actually know how to bartend and didn’t want to make a drink, I pulled up my shirt and let him have it. Mind you, I have great boobs,” proclaims Prince within minutes of our introduction. “You know, I was even on ‘Girls Gone Wild.’ They made me the promo for Alaska.”

Once Prince steps into her familiar surroundings, the infamous tilted Birdhouse bar, any shred of modesty is put on the shelf alongside her oversized coat. Although Prince has never been a shrinking violet, it wasn’t until her 67th year that she started to transform into her alter-ego, Wicked Wanda.

As the General Manager of the now deceased Northern Lights Hotel, Prince used her Southern charm to assuage customers and staff. While she excelled at her white-collar job, the seedier parts of life had always called to her. So, when she was given the opportunity to work as a bouncer at the raucous Blues Central nightclub in Anchorage, she didn’t hesitate to take the job.

“I’ve never had to actually bounce anyone, but I did have to ask one person to leave one time. I think it’s just better to smile at people and say, ‘give me $5’,” says Prince.

Transitioning into the face of Birdhouse wasn’t quite as smooth. Prince says that she cried before her first shift.

“I’d never made a drink before, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. Then I showed my boobs a few times on my first shift, and I thought I was going to get fired right away. I told my friend about it, and she let me know that [former owner] Mike Gordon was watching the security footage in the office and that I was definitely going to get a raise,” laughs Prince.

Twenty years later, Prince has mastered the art of making a drink. She’s also mastered her uncanny ability to coax a smile out of anyone who stumbles into the Birdhouse from 4-7pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Well, I don’t know how to put it into words, but [the Birdhouse] is sort of a part of my social life. I meet so many beautiful people from so many different places. And somehow, I always leave them smiling. You know, they might come in and be in bad spirits or a bad mood, but I can usually get them to respond with a smile before they leave. That’s my goal each night,” explains Prince.

Not unlike a naughty Care Bear, Prince relies on a series of carefully crafted gags to steal smiles. The first involves an oversized phallus hidden underneath her work apron. If that doesn’t work, she’s not afraid to break out the big guns.

“Oh yeah, I have a whole box of dildos in all different sizes, shapes, and colors because we don’t discriminate,” brags Prince as she unlocks a secret safe behind the bar. “It’s kind of hard not to laugh when someone hands you a dildo at a bar.”

Prince may have become as infamous as Koot’s for her debauchery, but it is her kind eyes, gentle manner, and open heart that have made her beloved.


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