Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Here are 15 reasons why you should include a bathhouse on your recreational agenda:
1. Going to bathhouses is a part of gay history. Before the 1970s, bathhouses were the only place where men could socialize without fear of being assaulted by homophobes or arrested. Many early Gay Rights pioneers did their organizing at bathhouses.
2. You can go during the daytime, instead of waiting around until 10:00 or 11:00 pm to hang out in a bar.
3. And there's no cigarette smoke clogging your lungs, no obnoxious drunks, and no blaring music, like in a bar.
4. You will see more naked men than you ever thought possible. The only other place to see naked men in real life is in a locker room, where you can, at best, steal a glance at the guy stripping down next to you. At the bath house, there are dozens of naked men, of every size and shape, and none of them mind gawkers.
5. You will discover the infinite variety of same-sex relationships. You will meet men who have sex with men but fall in love with women, men who have sex with women but fall in love with men, men whose boyfriends are ok with "playing," men whose boyfriends aren't, and everything in between.
6. You will discover the infinite variety of same-sex behavior, from newbies who have never had sex before to regulars who have sex twenty times per week.
7. You will discover that life doesn't end at age 40. You will see 60, 70, and even 80-year old men, vibrant, active, knowledgeable. Where else in age-stratified gay culture can you talk to men who lived through the dark ages before Stonewall and the first heady days of Gay Liberation?
8. You don't have to spend any money except for your membership and entry fee. You can wander around all day for free.
10. There's no day or night. Most parts of the Club are bathed in warm semi-darkness, with no windows. Time stands still. It's an eternal "now."
11. Finding a partner is much easier than exchanging endless "stats? pic?" emails and then arranging a meeting. You see someone you like, make eye contact, and walk toward him, or just grab. If he's not interested, he says "No, thanks," or if it's noisy, raises his hand in a "stop" gesture. But to be honest, refusals aren't very common. Most guys are interested.
12. If you just like to watch, most guys don't mind spectators.
14. They have fully-equipped gyms, so you can get your workout in before, during, and after cruising.
15. Plus steam rooms, saunas, swimming pools, and often discos and restaurants. You can get all of your recreational needs met under one roof.
When you leave, blinking, into the bright light of the city, you've exercised, had a sauna, had as many partners as you want, watched, chatted with people, and seen a hundred naked men. That's a lot to accomplish in just a few hours.
See also: 10 Bathhouse Boys
Sunday, July 5, 2015
When I was growing up Nazarene, we faced similar conundrums. Preachers and Sunday school teachers had to apply the law with the sagacity of a Talmudic scholar.
You can't work on Sunday.
1. Does that include yardwork? Yes. What about mowing the lawn on a riding mower? Yes.
2. Does it include performing CPR on someone who has had a heart attack? No.
3. What if you work in a restaurant where your schedule occasionally requires you to work on Sunday? Politely refuse, and if you are forced, quit.
1. What if your college roommate wants to drink in the room? Change roommates. He's evil.
2. What about if alcohol is being served in one room of the building, but not in the others? Don't go within ten feet.
3. Can you take a job in a drug store that sells beer, among other things? No.
1. Can you watch folk dancing? No.
2. What about jazzercise, a very popular exercise of the 1970s? No.
3. Can you just sway? No
You can't go to a movie theater.
1. Can you go into a theater if your car broke down and you need a telephone? No.
2. What about if it's a school field trip? No.
3. What about a movie on tv? No.
As a result, I was in a movie theater only a few times before college, and then always with guilt and fear as I waited for the heavens to open and God to strike me dead.
But my Cousin Buster found an loophole.
Buster lived in the trailer in the deep woods, next to my grandfather's house just outside Garrett, Indiana. His parents were lapsed Baptists, but he went to a Nazarene church and learned the same restrictions that I did.
The summer after sixth grade, when we were visiting, he said "There's a monster movie marathon playing at the Drive-In. Let's go."
He grinned. "Uh-uh. Movies have pictures and sounds. We're just going to see the picture. With a monster movie, it doesn't matter what they're saying, anyway."
It wasn't the building or the big screen, because we couldn't watch movies at home on tv, either. It must be the combination of pictures and sound!
"No sound, no movie," I said. "It might work. But how are we going to do that? Leave the little speaker thing off the car?"
"Just wait and see."
Buster told our parents that we were going to go star-gazing, and we rode our bikes down the dusty country roads to Route 6, to the theater. But instead of going inside, we walked our bikes across a field of summer corn to a little knoll beyond last row of cars. The screen was far away, but still visible, especially with binoculars.
We lay on blankets on the rough ground, shivering in the breeze, eating potato chips and watching something about Frankenstein fighting Godzilla.
And we managed to see a movie without getting God mad, unless He was miffed by the lying to our parents, trespassing, and theft.
Best night ever.
What? You were expecting a hookup? I did think about things other than cute guys once in a while when I was a kid.
See also: Looking for Uncle Edd's Gun.
Here are my 10 biggest suggestions;
1. Cousin Joe, my older cousin, whose Kielbasa+ I glimpsed in the bathroom when I was seven years old. "I didn't think you were gay when you said 'The President's not cute!' I had no idea until you moved to West Hollywood! But thanks for the free publicity -- tell your female readers that I'm single and available!"
3. Dick, my old bully, who I hooked up with at Christmastime during my terrible year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas: "I didn't live anywhere near Dewey's Candy Store, and I was never into guns! Why don't you tell them about my relationship with Jack? We've been together for thirteen years."
4. My celebrity boyfriend: "You make me sound too superficial -- it was a mutual breakup! But thanks for not outing me! By the way, why didn't you put me on your Sausage List? I'm bigger than most of those guys!"
5. Ryan, with whom I had the Worst Date in West Hollywood History: "We only did about half of those things! And who says it was the worst date in West Hollywood history? I had a great time!"
7. Blake, the Manhattan opera buff who was the subject of my "roommate switch": "Was that real? I had no idea that you were so devious! And you are wrong about Yuri and I -- we dated for about three months! By the way, I should go much farther down on your Sausage List. I'm definitely a Kovbasa+!"
9. Chad, the waiter at the Neptune who was living with the Satyr in Upstate New York: "You got the relationship all wrong. We joked around a lot, but we were just roommates, not some weird houseboy thing."
10. The Rapper, the ex-lover of the crying Truck Driver in Upstate New York: "I never wanted to become a rapper -- that was just for fun. I'm mostly into jazz, with a little classical. And why didn't you put me on your Sausage List? I'm bigger than most of those guys! Tell you readers I'm a Mortadella+++!"