I will never forget that night. I was sitting in my car
across the street from the bathhouse trying to get up the nerve to go
in. It was my first bathhouse experience, and, like loosing my virginity,
it was a night I will never forget.
I was 32 years old and had previously
confined my sexual exploits to gay bar pick-ups, adult theaters and
peepshows. At this point I was really getting tired of the bar/disco
scene. I wasn't young anymore and my boyish good-looks were fading fast and it was simply too much of a hassle to work
the bars. The cost/benefit ratio was increasingly turning against
Adult bookstores were fun for awhile but a recent
citywide crackdown had placed pressure on the adult bookstores to
clean up their acts and now bookstore managers would shoo guys away
from loitering and cruising the peepshow booths.
I was so lonely. I needed male contact but my old
options weren't working anymore. I knew that parks and restrooms
were also a place for quick sex but could never bring myself to go that
route. I was simply too afraid of being beaten up by gay-bashers or
arrested by the cops. So, out of sheer desperation, I turned to
I don't know why I was so afraid of
them. I wasn't in the closet and wasn't in a "committed relationship"
with anyone. It could have just been fear of the unfamiliar but I
suspect the main reason was the image I had of myself. I had always
though of myself as a "good boy." I was raised in a very white-bread,
middle-class "TV sitcom" neighborhood. I never drank, smoked
did drugs. The "good boy" idea I had about
myself kept me out of bathhouses for the longest time.
At the time, the term "bathhouse"
carried a stigma I simply couldn't shake. Since I didn't
have any idea what went on inside, my imagination got the better of me. I
imagined orgy rooms, whips and chains, dark sleazy sex mazes, filthy
toilets and perverted old trolls giving me dirty looks.
Now, with all of my other options
closing, I finally mustered the courage to enter my first bathhouse.
It was called the "Mustang Spa." It
was in my hometown of San Diego right next to a leather bar called
"Pecs." Nervous as hell, I rented a "room" and began to cruise the
joint. I kept my underwear on underneath my towel. As I walked around
what I found was a bunch of "regular" guys just like me! No whips! No
I really didn't want much sexually at
this point in my life. Just something light. All I wanted was a guy to
very gently run his fingers over my dick, very slow and very lightly
[who knows why?] And that night I hooked up with a guy who did
just that! Not only that but he told me I was "hot and sexy!" These
words meant so much to me at the time because I still had a lot of
When I left the bathhouse I was
floating on air. My first experience went great and I thought I had
found gay heaven. From that night on I was hooked.
I went to bathhouses whenever I
could. I wanted to see what they were all like and what kind of a crowd
they drew. I wanted to know everything. I quickly visited both other
bathhouses is San Diego and when I got bored with them I found myself
driving to Los Angeles on "bathhouse adventures." Of course, on my vacation to
San Francisco you can guess what was at the top of my "must see" list.
Even on my European vacation to London and Paris I manage to visit
almost every single bathhouse in both cities. Even if I didn't have any
sexual contact it didn't matter. I just enjoyed hanging out and watching
all the guys.
What I love about bathhouses is their
feeling of both "safety" and "freedom." You feel "safe" because you are
walled off from the outside world and are surrounded by nothing but
like-minded gay men. And you feel "free" because you have shed your
clothes [and the psychic baggage that goes with them].
Another thing I love is there always
seems to be something or someone for everyone. On the outside I rarely
get looked at twice anymore. I am now a 40-something old man, although I
have a good body-type [I think]. My body-type is similar to that of Colt
supermodel Steve Kelso. That is, if he was bald and 20 pounds heavier
[OK, OK 30 pounds].
Outside of bathhouses no one gives a
fuck about me. But when I enter a bathhouse and strip, suddenly guys
take an interest. It is a great ego booster. Over the years I have been
positively amazed at some of the hot guys I have done it with. Guys I
know would not give me the time of day on the outside: young men,
beautiful men, well-endowed men. And then there are the guys who look so
"average" when they enter: blue collar workers, nerds, sloppy dressers.
Remove their clothes and WOW! --- hairy chests, beautiful dicks, bubble
butts and rippling muscles. By removing their clothes you also remove
the class distinctions that normally separate people. Paupers can do it
with millionaires. Old with young. Black with white.
Even the obese and trolls seem to
find partners regularly. There are chubby-chasers and grandpa-chasers.
Something and someone for everyone.
Inside, you also find guys that would
normally be off-limits because they are "straight" or married.
Bathhouses, of course, have their fair share of flaming queens and
fem-bots but you also find a good number of genuinely masculine men.
Bathhouses have also helped me
emotionally. They have helped me relieve some of the loneliness I feel
as well as being a great stress-releaser [general stress as well as
sexual stress]. Listen to the music, relax in a Jacuzzi, take a hot shower. At this stage in my life, if I enter a bar or disco
it does nothing for me except cause tension [while entering a bathhouse relieves it].
How I wish I had discovered them
earlier. I spent so many lonely nights as a teenager and college student
jerking off to Playgirl magazine. How great it would be to go back in
time and be able to get erections all day and have 2 or 3 orgasms a
night. If I had known about bathhouses in my twenties that would have
saved me a lot of grief and frustration.
For me it is all a great fantasy.
Leave the real world behind and enter a protected gay sanctuary. An
oasis in the city. A little bit of Shangri-La full of beautiful men.
That, my friends, is why I love bathhouses.
History of gay pulps:
"Pulp Friction" by Michael
"Gay on the Range"
[For gay pulp cover art]
Gay Male Pulp Fiction