recreation

Anonymous Sex + Endless Lube: Welcome to the World of Gay Sex Clubs

Men in drag are not allowed entry.

Glen explains: “I tell them we have a dress code. I do let one guy wear heels here because he’s a longtime customer. And he has a muscular body. He likes to wear high heels and daisy dukes. He rides a motorcycle here.” What about an F-to-M trans patron, I ask, fully expecting a transphobic response. “I had one last night,” Glen says as if talking about a Snickers bar. “He’s very muscular, covered in tattoos, looks like a man. We take it on a case by case basis.” One thing is for sure: women are never admitted; even the HIV-counselors have to be men. In a gay sex club, Glen informs me, “Women are dick killers.” Truer words …

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Perhaps Glen’s favorite aspect of the sex club experience is the absence of class — which is interesting, given he grew up in a wealthy Manhattan suburb. “You don’t know if the guy you’re sucking off is driving a Bentley or a Pinto. Everyone is pared down. There’s no stigma.”

Except when you leave the club, perhaps. While he seems very proud of what he does, when it comes to whom he reveals his occupation, he picks and chooses. “I tell everyone I work in a gay club but I don’t tell everyone it’s a sex club.” He insists it’s not about the shame of working here, but more about “keeping people calm, not giving them a bad view of gay life.” I ask Glen if there is such a thing as too much sex. “I don’t know,” he says, stumped. “I think there are definitely sex addicts who come here, people I see every night, but it’s not my place to judge them or turn them away.” Glen has had patrons request that he deny them admission to the club but he refuses.

The issue of HIV is always delicate and the minute I utter the acronym, Glen interrupts me with something he’s clearly said before. “I think everybody who comes to a club like this should assume everybody else is HIV-positive and if they don’t play that way then they’re foolish. I don’t want anyone getting sick on my watch but it’s their choice.” Patrons are required to sign a waiver saying they will only engage in safe sex but that’s simply not enforceable. At a meeting with owners of encounter establishments, a high ranking California official suggested that in an effort to reduce HIV transmission, HIV-positive patrons wear pink ribbons inside the club to identify themselves. “That’s like going back to the days of Hitler,” Glen says angrily.

After our conversation, Glen invites me to “stay and play” at the club. I am flattered and, like any good Jew, lured by the offer of something for nothing. I walked around the dark corridors, men’s stares piercing me, speaking the not-so-secret language of cruising. I wish this place was more like Cheers where everybody knows your name. I’d like to walk in and smell the rich mahogany of an old-time bar instead of the noxious fumes of industrial strength floor cleaner, poppers, and lube. Cheers had a little more character. And in his prime, I might have followed Ted Danson into a glory hole.

This piece from Matt Siegel, a Queerty contributor, was originally published on Advocate.com, but you might have recently read how those two parties aren’t exactly speaking these days, and the item was removed. Tune in for never-published Part 2, tomorrow.