between two evils . . . . .
Pick the one you never tried before
developed a "baths language," our own code of behavioral ethics, so to
speak. When you were open to a sexual encounter, you left your door
open. This was a signal that anyone could enter. If you wanted anal sex,
you lay on your stomach with a can of Crisco by your side [this was
before the KY and Wet Stuff era]. If not, you reclined in a provocative
manner to indicate that you were receptive to other advances.
you were not turned on by the visitor, you politely said, "Thank you,
I’m resting." If you were into S&M, you lay face down, with a belt over
your back. If you were into orgies, you told your visitor to leave the
door open, thus allowing as many as could fit into the room to come
in. If you had enough for a while and wanted truly to rest, you then
shut the door. I’m surprised no anthropologist wrote a thesis on this
new means of mammalian interaction. If they had they might have called
it Primate Privates: An Examination of Fornicative Communication as
Practiced by a Newly Evolving Specimen of Homosexual Sapien.
------Steve Ostrow "Live at the Continental"
Men's Bathhouse Etiquette
Towel Boy's Etiquette
Get rid of the
Don't chew gum
Don't walk around
eating food like you're in a theme park.
"grabby hands." This is especially problematic for
well-endowed men who like to show it off. A few obnoxious guys view
well-endowed men who have their merchandise on display as an open invitation to "grab" the goods. Don't
grab anyone anywhere unless you have been "invited" to do so.
"Grabby hands" causes well-endowed men to keep themselves covered
which denies the rest of us the sight of their natural wonders.
Don't be a
stalker. There is nothing more annoying than a guy who
"tailgates" you and follows you everywhere. We all have favorite
guys we like to "shadow" so that we "coincidentally" happen to
arrive at the steam room the same time they do. But don't be too
obvious and don't stare like you're a serial killer. Wait for the
right moment. Be cool. "Shadow" but don't stalk!
nicely. When a troll or other substandard entity dares to make a
play for someone as fabulous as you are don't take it as an
"insult." Don't think that because a troll thought he might have a
chance with you that you have lost rank in the gay pecking-order and
that you must react with anger to regain your status. Please try to
reject him as nicely as possible. The fact is that sometimes we all
get lucky and occasionally score with a guy who is "out of our league."
Don't knock a guy for trying.
blow-jobs can give you bad breath. Rinse with mouthwash between
Remember -- if
you smoke, you stink. Wash you hair, scrub your skin, clean your
mouth and gargle. Too many guys who smoke are unaware of their stale
If you're a
bottom --- douche! Nothing can ruin the moment more quickly than
pulling out and finding a condom covered in scat.
Even if you're
not a bottom clean your bum so you don't leave skid marks.
Shave your back.
There are very few men in the world on whom back-hair is
actually sexy. Unless you've got a body like Ray Dragon --- shave
Why Gay Men Go To The Baths
Racism Or Preference?
Chubs And Chasers
The Politics Of Oral Sex
The Mentally Challenged Cuddler
Christmas At The Baths
Been There-Done That
Judging A Book By Its Cover
The Glory Hole
The Lunch Special
The Foot Fetish
The Price Of Admission
When Desperation Sinks In
Making The Connection
Sex With Clothes On
Body Vs. Race
Drug Use At The Baths #1
Drug Use At The Baths #2
GWM & GAM Speak Out!
My Tenth Anniversary
Real Men Cuddle
Pride Day At The Baths
The Out Of Towner's
Tricks Of The Trade [Hustlers]
Sex In The Dark
typically divide their time between the showers /saunas/ Jacuzzis and
the main areas of the establishment. Customers who have rented rooms may
choose to rest there from time to time, while those who have rented
lockers must rest in the public areas such as the café or lounge.
Customers who have rooms may leave
their room doors open to signal that they are available for sex. An open
door can also be an invitation for others to watch or join in sexual
activity that is already occurring. In these situations, a partially
open door often means that observation from outside the room is desired,
but entry into the room is not wanted. A door that is completely open
however, usually signifies that anyone is welcome to join in the
activity inside the room. In all situations, it is considered poor
etiquette to simply walk into a room without some form of invitation by
the occupant. When a room is occupied only by a single person, some men
will position themselves to suggest what they might like from someone
joining them in the room: those who would like to be penetrated anally
("bottoms") will sometimes lie face down on the bed with the door open,
while those who prefer to penetrate others ("tops") or to engage in
fellatio might lie face up.
In the past, the baths served as
community spaces for gay men. Even now, some men choose to go to the
baths with their friends (even though they may not necessarily have sex
with each other). While many men talk to each other at the baths, even
forming long-lasting friendships or relationships, many others do not,
preferring, for various reasons, anonymity.
Interested men will usually look at each
other; in this highly sexualized environment a look is frequently enough
to express interest. A nod signals interest, while looking away or
shaking the head is usually enough to signal a lack of interest, though
sometimes people misunderstand or refuse to take the hint.
In darkened areas of the establishment
including the mazes, video rooms, group sex areas, and the saunas or hot
tubs (but not generally in the showers, toilets, hallways, gyms, café
areas and lounges), men are usually free to touch other patrons; it is
expected and usually — but not always — welcomed. A shake of the head,
or pushing away the other's hand, means that the attention is not
Some establishments allow or encourage
sex in public areas (albeit usually excluding the hallways, toilets,
cafés, gyms and lounges) while others do not; in some jurisdictions such
activity is prohibited, and sex must be confined to private rooms. In
such areas individual bathhouses enforce these rules to varying degrees,
often at their own legal risk. Some forbid sex in pools for hygiene
reasons. Customers are usually free to watch others masturbating or
having sex in public areas, and also to join in, providing none of the
Out New York October 2007
couldn’t see his face, but I could tell he
was handsome. He was on his belly,
signifying that he was a bottom. His face
was turned to a wall, meaning he wanted
anonymous sex and he wasn’t turning anyone
away. That’s a hot scene for me. I entered
his cubicle and closed the door. Wordlessly,
I dropped my towel and lowered my nude body
I’m not a
regular of Chelsea’s West Side Club, but
I’ve learned how to cruise bathhouses. I
found the place—and its affiliate, the East
Side Club in midtown—shortly after the
demise of my marriage. Fifteen years of
monogamy had left me eager to dust off the
dormant bisexuality of my youth. Online
hookups were easy to come by, but I was
drawn to the old-school practice of checking
out men in the flesh, in an all-male
assumed that all of the city’s bathhouses
were shuttered in the early days of the AIDS
crisis, but these two around-the-clock
establishments have flourished for three
decades. Each is discreetly tucked in a
nondescript building and open only to
members, though temporary memberships are
easily acquired at the door. The East Side
Club tends to attract married suits; the
West Side Club draws the Chelsea boys.
protocols of cruising are essentially
unchanged since the heyday of St. Mark’s
Baths a generation ago, or even the time of
the aptly named Everhard Baths a century
before. I picked up the codes readily
enough. In the corridors and showers, men in
towels cruise in silence, accepting or
rejecting partners with a cursory glance.
Some members rent cubicles and leave their
doors open. Those who lay on their bellies
are offering their asses. Those who sit back
want their cocks serviced. I’m a top, so I
prefer to wander the cubicles, lingering by
the door of any man who catches my eye. If
he shakes his head, I’m not his type, so I
move on. If he nods, I’m invited to stay.
is not for those who dislike such
perfunctory judgments. The West Side Club
has a reputation for being particularly
harsh on those who don’t conform to the
Eighth Avenue clone style. For me, though,
these superficial ratings are part of the
attraction. Many men look past me as I
wander the club’s dim hallways. But those
who take a second look take me as I am. I am
desired not because I’m smart or clever, but
because I look good—or at least, good
enough—and I’m available.
simple anonymity had me hot for the bottom I
had found. I rubbed my body against his,
kneading his muscles with my fingers,
aroused by the thought that I would be in
him and he would never know my name or see
my face. I pressed against his firm ass, and
looked around the cubicle for condoms and
lube. He would have to provide these, as the
passing men carried nothing. I found
don’t have condoms?” I asked. His head
shook. I pressed once more against him, and
then stood. I collected my towel and left,
propping open his door as I passed. He was
attractive. Someone else would bareback him.
I found a twink to blow me.