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Steam heat at the tubs

A users' guide to Toronto bathhouses

OPEN THE DOOR. Dark pleasures await inside bathhouses like The Cellar.

Steamworks.
540 Church St, second floor.
(416) 925-1571.
Steamworksonline.ca.

Fanciest bathhouse in town with specialty rooms (reservations required), a giant hot tub, sauna and smoking perch overlooking Church. Popular with musclebound clubbers coming from the bars. The ID rigmarole has relaxed since opening. Plenty of condom dispensers.

“The crowds seem to be fairly mixed in terms of age, race and desire. On a busy night, the guys have sex everywhere and are kinkier than you might expect. Imagine if you will, a nice group scene in front of the DJ booth — pretend you are at the office water cooler. It’s surreal. Fisters, bring your Crisco.

“If anything, go for the king-sized hot tub and stay for the bottoms. The men will literally lineup to wait for a hard-working top. The place has made me rethink the concept of community service. As one might suspect, the dark common areas are the busiest. Access the wireless web, buy a sandwich from a machine, workout in the gym. A home away from home.

“Fun fact: One of the drinking fountains shoots out watered-down mouthwash. Careful what you swallow.”

The Cellar.
78 Wellesley St E.
(416) 975-1799.

Popular with an older clientele, many refugees from the much-missed Barracks. Wednesday cheap nights are packed.

“The main benefit of The Cellar is that it is dark, very dark, which always works in my favour,” says writer RM Vaughan. “And they seem to have a limitless selection of bad gay porn from the ’80s. So if all else fails, you can watch guys with huge frosted hairdos get it up their Nautilus-worked bums. Sometimes they even wear leg warmers.

“What do you get there? It’s mostly quickie suck jobs in the blacked-out back area and the occasional cluster fuck, too. If you’re into sex that requires a lot of furniture, go elsewhere. There’s no whirlpool, so don’t come with your hag posse and expect to be all Palm Springs by the jet streams. If Steamworks is the Drake Hotel of baths, The Cellar is the alley behind the Drake.”

Spa Excess.
105 Carlton St.
(416) 977-4629.
Spaexcess.com.

Licensed bar, whirlpool, sauna. Mixed clientele but popular with a younger, party set.

“Spa Excess always appeals to my stingy side because of their recurring special rates. When they offer a $2 locker deal the real question at hand is, ‘How come I’m not there right now?’ If you are into getting it on to show it off, then this isn’t the place to go. The clientele seem a bit on the reserved side. It’s a rare sight to see people making use of the sling or the St Andrew’s cross.

“Stop by on a Friday night for Deep Dark And Naked, an event that encourages guys to get naked anywhere they want. Hang out and be social by the bar, play with some balls at the pool table or tell your troubles to the friendly staffers.

“The darkest of the dark areas generally seem to be the busiest. A nice touch is having the option of hanging out on the rooftop patio and getting a bit of air.”

The Oak Leaf.
216 Bathurst St.
(416) 603-3434.

Real piece of history: A genuine steam bath with oak leaf scrubbers available for extra. Homeless guys use this place so discretion is advised.

“Cheap: You can often tell them that you have only $5 and they will still give you a room for that price. But dirty: Often there are TB notices and warnings posted by Toronto Public Health. You can go out an exit, climb up a ladder and sit on the roof to get a beautiful view on a hot summer night. I’ve seen the odd Toronto celeb there.”

Central Spa.
610 Dundas St W.
(416) 588-6191.
Centralspa.com.

Offers registered massage therapy. Lineups for rooms on the weekends, so go for the lockers. Doesn’t always stay open late if no one shows up but there’s usually a core group of regulars on hand. Hosts a trannie girl night on Tuesdays, as well as the occasional Todd Klinck porn shoot, so check the website’s calendar.

“Ever the dirty, little fun place with married (hetero) men, especially on weekends and late weekday afternoons.”

GI Joe’s.
543 Yonge St, top floor.
(416) 927-0210.

Steam, sauna, lukewarm Jacuzzi, sling room (you have to pay to use it), gloryholes. Free condoms and lube. The most ethnically mixed bathhouse, popular with black guys and Asians. Big maze with nooks and crannies, good to get laid when you have only an hour. Pay TV lounge with cinema-style seating. Recent renos, but not the best maintained venue.

Club Toronto.
231 Mutual St.
(416) 977-4629.
Clubtoronto.com.

Whirlpool, sauna and, in the summer, an outdoor pool where the sunbathing can get crowded. Lots of stairs and odd, cramped hallways in a building that still has many of Victorian architectural flourishes. Very popular with bears.