Lately I have been charting my progress (or lack thereof) in my attempts to rejoin gay society. In what is becoming an increasingly difficult exercise, I found that I have been beating around the proverbial bush for too long.
I knew I had to up the ante. I would need to leave the comfort of my isolated world behind and seek out a new frontier.
The Gay Bathhouse has been an object of awe, myth and great speculation for me ever since I first heard they existed.
I don’t even know how common it is for gay men to visit bathhouses. However, no exploration of gay life would be complete without a visit to one of these mythic fortresses.
The greatest challenge I faced was getting my damn feet through the front door. The first night I planned on going, I chickened out and ran home to watch several episodes of Dynasty, instead.
The second night, I could not find the place and was far too nervous to try locating the address.
And so it was upon my third trial, that I finally braved my fears and misgivings and crossed that invisible pink threshold.
What would transpire in these steamy corridors? I half-expected to see a queen dressed as the Divine Miss M and belting out “Pop Goes the Weasel” as an appreciative and buck-ass naked crowd cheered her on.
Summoning all my Boy Scout charm, I asked the attendant at the front what I should do.
No kidding. In fact, I think my exact words were: “Well, golly, sir. I’ve never been to a place like this. What do I do with myself?”
After being given the lowdown on membership rates, a condom and a complimentary sample of lube, I was pretty much set. The clerk handed me a towel and invited me in.
It was one thing to throw myself into the unknown. It was quite another to do it in nothing but a white towel to separate my goods from the prying eyes of the eager clientele. Tossing my clothes away with haste, I threw the towel around me before anyone could sneak a peek at my manhood.
Trevor, this is no time to be bashful. You are in a bathhouse, I heard myself thinking.
Wrapping my key around my wrist, I headed into the dimly lit hallways of the establishment. I figured a thorough examination of the premises was required if I were to have anything to report on. The sexually ambiguous vocal talents of an unseen siren belted from the speaker system. This was to be the soundtrack to my visit. A techno beat reminiscent of the early ’90s guided me through the experience.
As I made my tentative way down the first corridor I noticed a number of narrow doors. These, I assumed, led to rooms where carnal delights were being entertained.
Some doors were closed. Others were open. With my nerves doing their best to keep my eyes to the floor, I still managed to steal a look or two. Of particular note was a sensual looking gent lying on a thin bed awaiting the approach of a spanking new lover.
Tempted as I was to poke my head in and say, “You were waiting for me all this time?” I pressed on. I had to see what this fine establishment had to offer.
Quite literally, I felt I had to get my feet wet first. Pushing through the darkness, I chanced upon a roaring hot tub.
Grateful for the lack of revealing light, I felt comfortable shedding my towel and climbing in. I was only vaguely aware of the men coming and going around me. The blast from the jet pounding the top of my bare buttocks provided a welcome distraction from my nerves. It would also be the only kind of “action” I would get.
There is not a whole hell of a lot to do in a bathhouse if you aren’t looking for sex. If I learned anything from my excursion, that would be it. I spent more time playing with my wristband and key than I did fondling anyone’s nether regions.
One thing that struck me about my visit was how unsettlingly quiet the place was. Aside from those ’90s techno beats, there was nothing to be heard but the sounds of a man in the throes of pleasure. It was not sexy though. On the contrary, it sounded like a wounded lamb that was being put down.
All in all, the experience was quite surreal. There I was, finding out firsthand what all this “gay sauna” business was about. The night was not the salacious event I thought (and secretly hoped) it would be.
In all honesty, I was quite prepared to write a fierce condemnation against the very existence of the Bathhouse. But I came away respecting the sense of freedom the establishment offered.
The bathhouse is just another venue for men to meet each other. It strips away all the pretenses of nightclubs and bars and simply cuts to the chase.
Does that mean I will go again? Honey, not on your queer life!