Art Haus

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

Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum1Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is offering New Yorkers a rare glimpse into the pre-AIDS gay sexual culture at their Prince Street Project Space with The Fairoaks Baths, a collection of photographs by Frank Melleno. The Fairoaks Hotel was a converted apartment building owned by a group of gay friends on the corner of Oak and Stiner and San Francisco. Fairoaks lent a counter-culture approach to the traditional bathhouse setting. Rather than cubicles, Fairoaks offered normal rooms with non-institutional furnishings. Artists were commissioned to paint and design the rooms and there were a number of regular programs including yoga, therapy groups, and monthly theme parties. Melleno was the night manager of the bathhouse and took these polaroids during the spring and summer of 1978.

Images by Frank Melleno

Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum3 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum2 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum8 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum7 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum6 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum5 Fairoaks Baths Image Credit Frank Melleno for Leslie Lohman Museum4