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END OF AN ERA

Are Gay Bathhouses Going Extinct?

All good things must come to an end… Or must they?

In May of this year, the nation’s oldest gay bookstore, Giovanni’s Room, closed its doors after 41 years. But then, earlier this week, it was announced the store would reopen. Philly AIDS Thrift, a secondhand store whose proceeds benefit local organizations fighting HIV/AIDS, says it plans to continue running the landmark bookshop.

That’s the good news. Now for the bad.

Giovanni’s Room might be in the clear, but another group of gay institutions is in serious trouble. More and more bathhouses are switching off their “Open 24 Hours” signs and closing their steam room doors for good.

“The acceptance of gays has changed the whole world,” 75-year-old Dennis Holding, who own a small bathhouse Miami told the AP. “It’s taken away the need to sneak into back-alley places … Bathhouses were like dirty bookstores and parks: a venue to meet people. Today, you can go to the supermarket.”

The supermarket? Grindr is probably more likely. But we get what the man’s saying. The need for discreet locations for gay men to enjoy the company of other man has decreased in recent decades, thanks primarily to the growing acceptance of gay people within society.

Gay bathhouses first rose in popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when homosexual acts were still illegal. They provided a safe place for gay men to rendezvous. Bathhouses saw their heyday in the late 1970s, with nearly 200 located in cities across the country. But by 1990, that number had been cut in half. Today, less than 70 bathhouses remain nationwide, and the patrons tend to skew older.

“The younger generation’s main fear is that it’s some dark, seedy place,” T.J. Nibbio, the executive director of the North American Bathhouse Association, told the AP.

NABA was formed two years ago by a group of bathhouse owners hoping to find new ways of marketing their businesses.

“You’re either hooking up online or you are here, or you go to bars in West Hollywood, get drunk and hook up,” Sykes added. “Here it’s a safer environment — there’s condoms and other protection.”

Some of the strategies bathhouses have used to attract new and younger clientele have been through offering discounts. The Midtowne Spa in downtown Los Angeles, for instance, lets in 18- to 20-year-olds for just $5. Los Angeles’ Melrose Spa offers free admission to 18- to 25-year-olds on Tuesdays. Whether these strategies work to keep a once-thriving industry afloat remains to be seen.

Will gay bathhouses soon go extinct? Or will a deus ex machina come down and save the day like it did for Giovanni’s Room? Only time will tell.

Related stories:

Bathhouses And Beyond: A Brief History Of Gay Cruising

PHOTOS: A Rare Glimpse Into San Francisco’s Infamous Fairoaks Bathhouse

The Modern History Of Cruising, Homophobia And AIDS In Less Than Four Minutes

By:           Graham Gremore
On:           Aug 28, 2014
Tagged: , , ,
  • 51 Comments
    • buffnightwing
      buffnightwing

      They should be closed. Most are disgusting places and are unsanitary. Sure had fun times back in the day though. LOL

      Maybe if someone opened a really clean one with free wi/fi.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 7:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ted72
      ted72

      @buffnightwing: I went from agreeing with you to laughing about the WiFi.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 7:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul Nadolski
      Paul Nadolski

      They were outlawed in Minneapolis back in the 80s. Despite some people in the local gay community wanting to rescind that ordinance and open a place like Steamworks in the Twin Cities, it remains in place. I doubt it will ever go away.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 8:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Teeth
      Teeth

      I think that they are terrific. I don’t go very often anymore.. like once per year.. but it’s great. And it’s so much safer than these online apps. There are people around, there is usually a no dope policy, there are plenty of safer sex supplies. I think that this is a much better way that opening your door to someone you “met” on Grindr.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • onthemark
      onthemark

      I’d venture to guess that most guys reading this have never been to one. But you might be pleasantly surprised if you tried one at the right time.

      Pluses: they check ID (keeps the crazies / closet cases out), free condoms etc., free porn etc.

      Check out their website first to see times / events, age-appropriate stuff etc. – for instance, if you have no sexual interest in T’s or BDSM or whatever, you don’t want to end up there by accident at that once a month event.

      @buffnightwing: You probably haven’t been in a long time because the really bad ones don’t stay around. But yeah, if only you could stay in your room and use wi-fi!

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike
      Mike

      I just remember walking around once in my towel thinking “Hey…these guys look NOTHING like the guys in the advertisements”. However, if I were into out-of-shape guys in their 60’s…. it would be a great place to get some action (and a pretty good foot-fungus too)

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @buffnightwing, “Maybe if someone opened a really clean one with free wi/fi.”

      That exactly describes Toronto’s Steamworks. Nice and clean, with lots of young guys going there, so it is not a generational thing there (and free WiFi, but who the hell uses that there?).

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      Bathhouses are just so much more convenient, more efficient for meeting guys, and safer, than apps like Grindr. In places where they build nice ones, like Toronto, they are quite successful at attracting a cross section of guys including a lot of the younger generation. Contrast that to NYC’s crappy WSC, for example

      So if you build them to be attractive places, they will come.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sweet Boy
      Sweet Boy

      Disappearing?….far from it, here in Montreal there are four or five, all alive and kicking, for different demographics..there’s even one for straight couple/swingers/bisexuals/omnisexuals….

      Aug 28, 2014 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • barkomatic
      barkomatic

      The bathhouses might be going away but back rooms at certain bars are roaring back. There are a number of bars where after a certain hour turn a bit amorous.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 10:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • wpewen
      wpewen

      Close them down based on the fact that they are an example of capitalism run amok, and I’m no commie. SF did, San Diego didn’t back at the start of the epidemic. The guys who run these places couldn’t care less about young gay men’s health. I’m 56, went to em to get laid, always had ambivalence. Offering young guys discounts proves my case-you’re 20 and you’ll want it. Better to start your own j/o club than put money in the pockets of these vultures.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 10:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99
      Stache99

      @Teeth: I think dope is what keeps them afloat no matter how many signs (wink, wink) they put up.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 11:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache99
      Stache99

      “The Midtowne Spa in downtown Los Angeles, for instance, lets in 18- to 20-year-olds for just $5. Los Angeles’ Melrose Spa offers free admission to 18- to 25-year-olds on Tuesdays.”

      Ha. So what they’re saying is that 18-25 yo’s just don’t use them anymore. Btw. those places are dirty and just plain nasty. I wouldn’t go there if they paid me.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 11:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sweet Boy
      Sweet Boy

      @wpewen: Maybe south of the border they don´t give a rat´s ass…here they provide free condoms and lube…if guys do not use them then that is a whole different story

      Aug 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MarionPaige
      MarionPaige

      A while back, there was press in the NYT and other non-gay media about an alleged “sex club” operating in Times Square that had no bathrooms. What are the odds that that whole thing wasn’t some NYPD sting operation? This all raises the issue of “who could you trust” today to legitimately operate a gay bathhouse, especially in NYC? Last time I went to an adult bookstore in NYC to actually buy a movie, a White bitch came up to me and asked me to a booth.

      At the end of the new Godzilla movie, there is a television story displayed that has the banner: “King of The Monsters: Savior of Our City” Couldn’t that easily apply to Giuliani? Giuliani was definitely “King of The Monsters” (along with fucking Koch) and yet some people see him as Savior. Giuliani pretty much destroyed what 90% of the foreign tourist went to New York City for.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bayonetto
      Bayonetto

      So, are bathhouses really nothing more than a place guys go to have sex? They’ve got no other redeeming functions that enrich the community other than propagating the stereotype that we’re all just sluts and whores? If that’s the only reason to patronize them, then let them slip into extinction. No one needs help hooking up anymore. If I’ve missed something about them that’s actually important to the community in the present, then please, let me know. Otherwise, just download grindr already.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ummmm Yeah
      Ummmm Yeah

      @Bayonetto: I don’t think it’s so much the bathhouses going away that bothers people as seeing another part of gay culture disappearing along with the rest of the gayborhood.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @vive: That is kind of how Steamworks is in general. Its not the gay bath house that is in danger. Its the horribly ran horribly designed gay bath house that is in danger. Its simply a culling of the weak on the market. Some of my favorites are Club Columbus and a nice one in San Jose (forget the name). There is also a really nice one in Providence, RI (that gets a lot of Boston boys).

      There are plenty of guys of all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of activities and types of relationships occurring. It really is simply about what you make it.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @wpewen: Funny, I couldn’t tell how ambivalent they were about diseases when they offered free HIV screening twice a week, had condoms in almost every hallway and plastered the whole place with posters concerning safer sex and disease prevention. Hell, they have done more for disease prevention at this point than most schools in the USA. What exactly are you talking about again?

      Aug 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maude
      Maude

      I predict that when the Gays become more politically interested, and run and win political office, bathhouses will actually advertise and thrive.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 4:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NateOcean
      NateOcean

      @buffnightwing:

      Based on what I’ve seen, the free WiFi could make a lot of sense.

      That way we’d all get back those extra three “online inches” featured in our profiles.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maude
      Maude

      @Maude:
      Hotels will advertise that they cater to the Gay Community just as many do now, the difference is, advertisers will openly encourage sexual activity between gays, or “homosexuals” to engage in sex in their honeymoon suites/ rooms by the hour is not inconceivable , in other words there will be no prejudice against Gays, or they will be sued.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MarionPaige
      MarionPaige

      In NYC, prosecutors alleged that a hotel was promoting prostitution by renting rooms by the hour. Of course, this was all just a bullshit way to close down the Hotel and force the owner to sell his property to a real estate developer. There is already rumored to be a GAY AIRBNB APP. If someone is willing to let a room in their house or apartment to gay couples it seems not all that much of a stretch to let a room for gays to have sex.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 5:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • redcarpet30
      redcarpet30

      There is something to be said for dedicated real-life gay sex space, you practically have to be a professional community organizer to get a group together and even then you still get noshows. But bath houses are not exactly needed and if they don’t find a way to class them up and adapt to the Grindr world then they WILL die out like book stores. But I’m of the mind that there is a way to make them appealing and profitable if they are modernized and re conceptualized in some way. People just haven’t quite figured out how or timed it right yet.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MarionPaige
      MarionPaige

      An Airbnb For Gay Men
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2014/06/27/an-airbnb-for-gay-men-and-why-women-love-it-too/

      Aug 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kangol
      Kangol

      Please, let bathhouses survive!

      Aug 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TommyTrojan
      TommyTrojan

      I’m an early 30s guy and I’ve been to bathhouses in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, and Seattle and had great times. Everybody knows why everybody else is there, and you can look and touch and play as much as you want.

      At the Florida locations, I could sunbathe nude, go skinny dipping in the pool, and chatted with cool guys sitting in the hot tub. The Chicago location was PACKED with men to choose from. True, the clientele does tend to skew older, particularly on “slower” nights, but I’ve seen a little bit of everything, including some ridiculously good-looking men in Chicago.

      The issue for me is the cost: it’s $25-35 for a room, plus membership/entry fees. So it’s something fun I do on occasion while traveling, but not something I’m likely to do on an average Saturday night.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob LaBlah
      Bob LaBlah

      The majority of these comments really made me laugh. Who in their right mind could not figure out the ADVERTISEMENTS for nearly all things gay feature young, bubble-butt, six-pac MODELS? Are you going to see THOSE particular models in there? I seriously doubt it.

      I find bath houses much more safer than I do letting a total stranger walk into your home with the only thing you know for sure is that he turns you on. How are your chances for catching a STD or HIV lowered by meeting someone online? Do you think this possibly methed out individual is going to tell you the truth about their status?

      I still go to the baths and have my good days and bad days. I have gone sometimes and banged so many young drugged out twinks who look like they just stepped off a porn movie set that I feel like I died and went to heaven. Age be damned, if they want to get banged (and the majority of them do) they are more interested in size than age.

      Other times I feel like “what the hell am I doing here” with so many guys my age who did not take care of themselves over the years and look like stereotypical trolls. (I am in my mid 50’s, hit the gym at least twice a week and still get plenty of action from the young ones).

      It’s all in how you see it but again, I feel safer knowing my valuables are locked, and I.D. is required to get in and if they appear to high or drugged out, they are not let in (age be damned). I see what I am getting right there on the spot. To me it beats hoping that a picture posted online is what is going to show up, as I am sure many of you have had a disappointment or two in that scenario. I tried online dating several times but I just can’t get over the fact I know NOTHING about this person I am letting in my house. For me, that ain’t going to work.

      Good luck to all of you in your cruising. It is YOUR choice regardless of which way you go.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @Bayonetto, “So, are bathhouses really nothing more than a place guys go to have sex? They’ve got no other redeeming functions that enrich the community other than propagating the stereotype that we’re all just sluts and whores?”

      There is nothing wrong with being a slut, as long as you treat yourself and everyone else with dignity and respect. But no, apart from providing a safer and more convenient space for sex than Grindr, they are also social spaces. Guys talk more easily with new people there than in bars or clubs, and I have met friends and people I dated there. And most of them are plastered full of safe sex information (e.g., on things like PEP that most guys otherwise would never know about) and even have free testing clinics.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @tdx3fan, in Providence we have two bathhouses, but they unfortunately have both gone MAJORLY downhill in the past couple of years – you can read the latest reviews on gaycities for the details. The Boston market could really do with a Steamworks – it’s unbelievable that Boston has ZILCH.

      Aug 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • buckula
      buckula

      Like the copy says “Gay Bathouses first rose in popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when homosexual acts were still illegal. They provided a safe place for gay men to rendezvous”. I am sure there is some entrepreneurial spirit in the current world, other than North America, were they are thriving! It just not reported! Ding Ding the more you know!

      Aug 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MountainBoy
      MountainBoy

      @Paul Nadolski: They were closed in San Francisco back in the 1980’s also. Sex Clubs have sprung up to offer something similar and the three or four big ones in The City are popular, especially after last call, they are very different from The Baths; no private rooms with doors kind of changes the whole idea of what was here in the past. The major impetus to close them was the gay community ‘AIDS’ groups; you saw the devastation first hand here in the 80’s and it has changed the whole concept of recreational sex.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 8:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @MountainBoy, so in these sex clubs in SF only ‘public’ sex is allowed. Seems the opposite of NYC, where you get yelled at for anything that doesn’t take place in a closed cubicle.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bellerophon69
      Bellerophon69

      I always liked the bathhouse because I could “comparison shop”, particularly if the place was hoppin’. It had been a few years since I had made a visit to my old haunt, so in 2012 I went just for the shits and grins and it really was dark and seedy. Then I remembered to myself, it always was! The charm and ambiance of sinful, ill lit, illicit sex was half the reason I went in the first place, not to mention you could have a “sampler” before the main course! “The younger generation’s main fear is that it’s some dark, seedy place,” Well it always was, and hopefully, always will be, only with more red and blacklight; it’s nice to see what you’re playing with. I suppose my generation, with the Bomb and the Fear of Deadly AIDS hanging over our heads, had a more fatalistic turn on life. “Unsafe environments” were a thrill to many of us, and the Darkened Bathhouse was just another place you felt lucky to walk away from.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maude
      Maude

      Coney Island bath houses were always fun, but closed at night.
      Still, you could hook up with a young, middle, or older guy and
      go home with a smile on your face.
      When HIV hit, nobody went anymore, at least nobody with a brain.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tickerage
      Tickerage

      The mainstreaming of gay life and increased visibility of LGBT people is great, but we should not lose gay culture. Places like “The Clubs” in various US cities are great because they provide what is essentially a town hall for gay men. They are more than just sex, they are relaxing spas. People still pay top dollar for gay clothing optional resorts like Island House in Key West or White Parties. Bath houses are a much more affordable option than those or “Club circuits” that people just coming out can experience the community free of judgments and taunts from straight people. Sure it’s great for a kid in the Midwest or South to watch Kurt on Glee, but actually going to a bathhouse will open up a whole new level of gay life for them. Grindr is all well and good, but it is a one-on-one, personal, hit-or-miss thing. There is something to be said for being able to go somewhere and know that you will be around other gay men and can do what you want or nothing at all with them. Unless you live in Manhattan, WeHo, SFO or a few other places, hooking up at the grocery really isn’t an option.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @Tickerage, you are right, except I would say with “mainstreaming” of gay life we are not becoming more visible – we are becoming INvisible again except, as you say, in certain specific places. Indeed, because there are so few of us compared to straight people, gay people really get lost in the crowd and so you are right, you can’t meet people in the grocery store or gym outside of a few (sections of) a few cities.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 12:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Black Pegasus
      Black Pegasus

      I think the reason bath houses are closing is because of the image they represent to the younger, self righteous types. Many of these younger liberated men will hookup with a guy without knowing his first name, yet act all repulsed by the idea of going to a bath house. I remember venturing out to one of the bath houses on “college nights”. We got in for half price with our college I.Ds. My dude and I would just walk around for kicks and giggles lol. We were too inhibited to get undressed or do anything sexual with the older men roaming around, but it wasn’t all that bad.

      Having said that, I doubt there’s anything that can be done to stop the closings. Unless they reinvent their business model, gay men will avoid these places because of the stigma associated with bath houses.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JDean
      JDean

      not surprised. These places are frequented by the old whores who think fucking strangers in the crapper is cool. No wonder they got disease.

      I used to be part of a gay group and the old geezers would hit on us who were younger constantly, many had the gall to get mad when they get turned down. It got so creepy after a while that we stopped going. Same story here.

      Come to think of it, a large part of my friends are 30 and younger have never been to a bath house save for the few whores here and there who think it’s cool. We also don’t meet at gay clubs anymore, the last time we went to a gay club was probably 2009 or 2010. Haven’t been since and can’t say I care or miss it. There is so many cool places to sample out there, why limit yourself? We frequent lots of the local cafes and bars though, some of which are owned by gay dudes, and it’s cool, we don’t have to worry about caught being gay because nobody gives a shit. Definitely beats eating terrible food and watching drag shows.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @JDean, I’m sure nobody is more glad that you stopped going out to gay locations than all the other gay men in your town, of all ages.

      @Black Pegasus, if they make the bathhouses nice, clean, modern places to visit and advertise them, lots of young guys will go, as is shown by the fact that lots and lots of the young generation visit the nice bathhouses I have been to in Canada (and I am told exists in Chicago and Europe) So yes, you are right that it is about the image of the places. It’s when they stop maintaining them to the point where stuff is falling apart and they seem dirty that they lose clientele of all ages.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 4:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jmmartin
      jmmartin

      You write: “Gay bathhouses…provided a safe place for gay men to rendezvous. Bathhouses saw their heyday in the late 1970s, with nearly 200 located in cities across the country. But by 1990, that number had been cut in half. Today, less than 70 bathhouses remain nationwide, and the patrons tend to skew older.” You omit the reason bathhouses declined in the 80s. It is a gloss, but silence is death.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @jmmartin, yes, it is a surprising omission. Many were closed because of AIDS, although there is a good case to be made that they were so well situated in the culture to be centers for safe sex education that they might well have been able to help reduce the epidemic if they had been allowed to stay open.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BadSeed
      BadSeed

      @Maude: It has not been the case in SF that increased political interest has encouraged bathhouse culture. Fifteen years ago a group of bathhouse proponents organized under the acronym CUSP (Community United for Sexual Privacy) to fight the SF Health Dept.’s ban on private spaces (i.e., lockable cubicles — bathhouses weren’t ultimately closed in SF, just privacy banned). CUSP won the vote to end the privacy ban in every community forum it engaged (3 or 4). Very important among those was the vote of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club where the vote was unanimous against continuing the ban. Nevertheless, these votes made no difference. Why? The assimilationist LGBT political establishment in SF caters to the straight Democratic Party to protect and possibly increase what power it has and that straight establishment seems unable to tolerate institutions that have no significant parallel in the straight community. Love and marriage? Ok. Military service? Ok. Social spaces where gay and bi men might be able to enjoy each other’s company privately? Not ok. In the intervening years, neither the Milk Club leadership, nor its endorsed political candidates have dared to challenge straight power with regard to the privacy ban that prevents traditional gay bathhouses from re-opening in San Francisco. If you think SCOTUS’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas gave homosexuals the right to privacy, think again. It hasn’t done so in SF.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MarionPaige
      MarionPaige

      “in the late 1970s, with nearly 200 located in cities across the country… Today, less than 70 bathhouses remain nationwide”

      There are not a whole lot of thriving business models out there that specifically target gay people. Gay bookstores are closing, gay bars are closing, gay themed movies aren’t profitable enough for nationwide releases and, most non-porn gay websites couldn’t make a living on actually selling anything to gay people.

      If anything, one would think that GAY PORN and GAY BATHHOUSES are PROTECTED INDUSTRIES in that they can probably rely on “mainstream corporations” not being eager to venture into those industries.

      Every minority group has had SMALL minority owned businesses that thrived on patronage from its minority group. However, once that minority market is viewed at being “significant” enough to pillage, then the BIG corporations move in and drive the small business owners out. In the case of GAY, a lot of corporations are finding out that there isn’t enough gay specific dollars out there to justify their big investments in gay.

      Aug 29, 2014 at 8:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Queer4Life
      Queer4Life

      How to save bathhouses? Make a tv show where a gay bathhouse is the central location. I think this is truly sad, one part of bathhouses is about sex sure. There used to be bath houses that were clubs houses too. #SaveTheBathhouse

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BadSeed
      BadSeed

      @Queer4Life: Didn’t Terrence McNally write a hit farce about a gay bathhouse that was later made into a film with Rita Moreno? — “Saturday Night at the Ritz”? In any case, LGBT leadership these days is lamentably assimilationist and middle-class. These people are embarrassed by gay bathhouses, which bring to the surface their sexual guilt –as if sex was the only thing bathhouses are about. At least that’s the case in San Francisco. The LGBT Community Center here actually posts as its first rule “No sex on the premises.” (Was it really necessary to spell that out? What are they afraid of?) A couple of years back the newly appointed head of SF’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, a gay man who had been hired away from Portland OR where there are two bathhouses, was asked whether he felt at a disadvantage at having to lure gay men to a city w/o traditional bathhouses. After boasting that he had never set foot in a bathhouse in his life, he said “no” — never mind that some visitors come here for the sex clubs. A gay couple from NYC once told me there was nothing like the SF sex club Blow Buddies there. I have nothing against sex clubs, other than they tend to be too single purpose in the facilities they are permitted to offer as vaguely licensed businesses that operate in political limbo land.

      Sep 5, 2014 at 9:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JDean
      JDean

      @BadSeed: Lol assimilationist. Not wanting to be a disgusting whore is now assimilationist? Since when?

      You sound like the creeps who hit on me when I was in my teens. Coming from Europe we didn’t have bathhouses so these old queens would pester me, and try and convince me how cool bathhouses were and how I should visit because that’s what gays did they said. When I didn’t take and brushed them off they would tell me that maybe I wasn’t really gay, just confused, or maybe I was asexual. Or that I was a stuck up European kid, rah rah. Some would get angry.

      Face it. We in the young generation are destroying bathhouses and gay clubs by simply excising our right – not visiting and not caring. Take a deep breath, it will soon be over. Five years tops and most of them will be gone

      Sep 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BadSeed
      BadSeed

      @JDean: Why would you want to destroy bathhouses and gay clubs? These are what we fought for 50 years ago and out of which the gay, now LGBT, movement sprang. Nobody’s forcing you to patronize such businesses. A lot of people don’t go and never did. However, I have to say the first bathhouse I ever encountered was in Europe, Vienna in fact,50 years ago. The sex action was on the down-low, but there was plenty of action for those Viennese who sought it out. Bathhouses date back to antiquity. They are admirable social institutions which have been maligned by homophobes and prudes. Sex is hardly mandatory in them, but hopefully never unwelcome. San Francisco used to be such a great town with its variety of bathhouses. Now it may as well be Minneapolis. Bathhouses mostly gone in five years? Sure, and all gay men will be happily married behind white picket fences in the suburbs with their straight brothers and sisters. Spare me, please. By the way, I’m no whore, nor are most other patrons who give sex away and accept it, too. The best things in life are free: the sun, the moon, sexual exchange and communication.

      Sep 8, 2014 at 1:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JDean
      JDean

      @BadSeed:

      I meant that my generation, and the younger, have decided we don’t like bathhouses, so we don’t patronize them which is killing the bathhouses off. As evidenced.

      I don’t remember ever a time bathhouses were admirable social institutions. Lol What? Hahah. Come on now. Admirable. Maybe for the sluts who frequent them but I distinctly remember as a teen other gay guys snickering about and at the people who frequented these places. Lets face it, then and now pretty much only the sex obsessed bunnies trolled those places, and it remains true today. Even more so now that you window shop for a guy with the swipe of a finger.

      From what I’ve observed the bathhouses are frequented by sex addicts, old geezers, lots of below average looking guys, and closeted husbands who are too stupid to come out. The few sluts I keep in contact with complain often that only “grannies” cruise nowadays and how they can’t find anyone they like. One is uploading photos from these “gay resorts” in Miami and from what I’ve seen the pretty ones really stand out from the crowd.

      By the way, homophobes did not malign your admirable bathhouse institutions, you maligned them yourself. The AIDS epidemic started from from these places thanks to the sluts that couldn’t keep it together, snorted gallons of poppers and fucked anything that walked by for days year round.

      The world has changed, the rate at which bathhouse supporters are dying off I believe my prediction is pretty accurate. Not all gone in 5 years but lots of them. The rich gay guys are launching hot restaurants, clubs and bars in Miami, not gay clubs and certainly not bathhouses.

      Sep 8, 2014 at 4:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BadSeed
      BadSeed

      @JDean While I’m reluctant to agree the world has changed, I would readily agree that the circumstances of gay men and lesbians have changed — at least in some geographical areas. Both L/G’s, as well as straight white women, have more social and employment options open to them than before Stonewall and the reforms that followed. Were it not for burgeoning businesses like gay porn, resorts, cruises, websites and sexy male underwear, not to mention cultural and sports organizations, I might even be inclined to think gay culture had died as has been argued by some for well over a decade. HIV/AIDS and those like yourself (apparently) who have found it convenient to scapegoat bathhouses for AIDS and even bars where the likelihood of physical contact is much less have diminished the number of commercial gay venues compared with what existed 30 years ago. Also with assimilation has come an increased classism in LGBT communities, but your point of view is not new. Even in the ’70s, there were those who dismissed others as sex addicts, trolls, sluts, grannies, sluts, old geezers, etc. and would readily disappear the businesses that serve them. Beware — fortune is fickle and youth ephemeral. You may not always have the wherewithal to support “rich gay guys . . . launching hot restaurants.”

      Sep 9, 2014 at 3:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bambamboom777
      bambamboom777

      I lived in Australia for a while and it seemed like bathhouses were much less controversial and common there. Never went to one, but it came up in conversations all the time and there didn’t seem to be the same judgmental attitude about the subject as you find in the U.S.

      And the comment about the WIFI, actually the one bathhouse I’ve been to did have free WIFI and lots of people brought their laptops. There were areas set aside with tables and snack machines, a lounge area with a TV and people were on their laptops. And the hilarious thing was that Regis Philbin show was on. You saw a lot more socializing or people walking around looking than you did sex, unless someone left the door open to their room. If not for the gay porn playing you could almost practically bring your str8 friends there. At least that’s the way the the one I went to which wasn’t nearly as seedy as some people’s descriptions.

      Oct 16, 2014 at 12:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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