OK so the city where I was living had 3 or 4 bathhouses at the time. I tried 2 of them, as the reviews for the other were sketchy.

I’ve learned about myself by going. What I like. What I don’t like.

What I like

Going to the baths was my dirty little secret. I didn’t EVER tell any of my straight friends, and I didn’t even tell any of my gay friends. Sometimes I would talk about it with random guys online, but reactions were mostly negative.

They couldn’t understand why I would want to go to places like that. They were dirty. They were full of drugs and ugly trolls and desperate closet cases. I should be going to the clubs or coffee shops or just pick up guys online like everyone else. They thought I would be more likely to get something from having sex in a bathhouse. When confronted with that, I would ask how many random guys they had hooked up within the last two weeks. It was usually at least 2. I would say, I’ve been to the baths 2 in a year and only had sex once. So there. They were more likely to have gotten something from the randos they bring home. I don’t know why they think the location more or less likely to get a sexually transmitted disease.

It’s a neutral space

I was living in residence in university and I had roommates for the years after. I didn’t want to be bringing guys home. I was embarrassed and ashamed as sex was a taboo topic. I’m still not really comfortable discussing it in person with people I don’t know extremely well, and forget about family.

I was always a bit afraid going to a hook-up’s place. Are they an axe murderer? Am I going to get robbed? What if I can’t get home? Etc.

A bathhouse provided a space where they didn’t know where I lived, and I didn’t know where they lived and no one cared. Its a space designed for sex and then you leave.

It comes with live options

OK so you can plan to meet someone there. If you don’t click, or someone lied, then goodbye. There are plenty of other guys just down the hall.

Online chat. Online apps. Swipe, swipe swipe and nothing. 

Endless chats and flirting and they ghost you.

You FINALLY nail someone down on a time and place coming to yours and they flake and don’t show.

A good night at a bathhouse is so much better than Grindr. The bodies are there and already at least ½ nude. There are no filters (unless you go on dark night or red night or something). There’s no faking it with better angles. There’s no ‘look at me at Machu Pichu’ and ‘don’t have a great life’ pictures. Everyone is in a towel. It’s a great equalizer.

It’s so hot, even if you don’t hook up

OK so I’m a bit of a voyeur. I like porn. I like watching. In a bathhouse, you are going to see some stuff. It might be just naked guys changing. But it might be a threesome in the sauna. Or a group of guys banging someone in a sling. Or a room full of hot guys jerking to porn. IT IS LIVE PORN. It’s not always good porn, but if you go on a busy night, you are going to see something.

I like hot tubs

A soak is wonderful! Plus, I have a thing about seeing naked guys in pools. In hot tubs. In saunas. In locker rooms. The bathhouse has ALL of that (usually). 

The experience is freeing

I’m repressed, I suppose. I don’t really express myself in the way that I want, but I”m also an introvert. I don’t get flirting. I don’t know how to pick up guys ‘in the wild’. I’m OK online I guess, but with so many options for them, they ghost quickly or flake or it’s just a waste of time.

The bathhouses are a place where I can be naked and not be worried that someone might see my hard dick. I’m in a locker room, hot tub, sauna….anywhere…nude; with a raging hard-on. I’m watching porn in a large open room with other guys in it. With a raging hard-on AND I’m jerking. AND that’s all OK – expected – welcomed, encouraged. They are doing it too. They are excited too. I felt safe to be a sexual being. I felt safe to explore and to proclaim that I like men and didn’t have to be afraid or ashamed to show it.

Everyone is there for the same purpose. You try and pick up a guy in a coffee shop. Maybe he’s horny. Maybe he’s not. He’s there for coffee; that’s all you know for sure. Maybe he is there to pick someone up for sex, but you don’t know that. At the bathhouse the purpose is sex; watching it, having it. You are there for that purpose. There doesn’t need to be excuses or awkward smalltalk. You communicate with looks, with touches, with gentle ‘probing’ to see where the boundaries are. AND you can break some of the normal social boundaries. 

Example. I saw a hot guy come in and sit in one of the other hot tubs in the room. Did he sit there because he wasn’t interested in me? I didn’t know, but he did shoot a couple of glances at me. I got out of the one hot tub and walked over to the one he was in. In the time it took me to do that, I was at full mast, bouncing as I got into the tub. And there’s no way he didn’t see. And that was ok. I sat beside him. That’s all ok. A few furtive glances back and forth and I put my hand on his thigh. He didn’t remove it. I slide it up and inside his leg. He looked at me and moved my hand to his chest – permission and acceptance. We made out and ended up fucking in one of the gloryhole booths, and it was amazing. I didn’t have to make smalltalk. I was allowed to reach out and touch him. (Had he removed my hand or moved away from me, that would signal no, and I would have moved on). I WOULD NEVER TOUCH ANYONE out in the real. No is still no in there, but you can bend some of those contact rules a bit.

YOU get to look. A lifetime of trying to hide glances goes out the window. You are allowed to look. You are allowed to WATCH. Some guys WANT you to watch and leave the door open or have sex out in the open. Sex isn’t something dirty that you have to hide away and never speak of. You share it  everywhere in there.


There are guys of all kinds

Against what I was warned about, the bathhouses are not just full of creepy old men. There are creepy old men, but there are also young guys, thin guys, fat guys, HOT guys, muscle guys and every kind in between. And while most communication is non-verbal, I’ve had some conversations with guys – usually in the hot tub as it’s neutral ground, sort of. It was so surreal having general chit-chat with a group of naked guys all in a hot tub about to, or just back from searching for or having sex with random guys. And yet we can sit and just chat. And then do it all again. One couple I talked to had travelled for vacation just to visit the bathhouse. They were early in their relationship and thought it would be a good thing to do together before things got too serious and caused issues with having sex with other people.

The Mystery

Its the same thing that keeps guys on apps – the promise of what may yet come. This is a blessing and a curse. For the bathhouse it means that you could run into all sorts of guys there. And they aren’t as far out of reach as you might think. I’ve hooked up with guys I thought there would be no way I would have a chance with. But they are there, and horny (and only getting hornier) so they might just be tired of waiting for the next best thing. Or it could be the environment frees them of having to meet expectations. Maybe they like more kinds of guys but think their friends would tease them if they admitted they didn’t just find muscled adonises attractive.

I’ve actually missed out on a few opportunities because I was hesitant. One of the things I’ve learned from the baths is that you have to take action. If you see something you want, go for it before someone else takes it (or join in). The worst that could happen is they say no. You just move on then.

It’s all in the attitude. If you go for the purpose of hooking up with the hottest guy ever, you may be disappointed. If you go to enjoy a sexual environment, and maybe see some hot stuff then you’ll get what you wanted and sex will be a bonus.

The hidden gloryholes, the mazes, the darkrooms…all full of possibilities. A lot of guys probably wouldn’t venture in there. It’s full of old guys and trolls they would say. Well, could be. But more guys than they realize actually find it really hot to step up the anonymous side of sex. Then it becomes about the senses and how you feel and not who gives you the feeling.

But the mystery of it all keeps you wandering in circles. On a slow night, if there aren’t many guys, you could be wandering the areas all night looking for something better. Or the FOMO – leaving to check the other spots to make sure something hotter isn’t going on there. Some guys just find a place they like and stake it out, set up camp. Others bounce back and forth.

I get that it is not for everyone. I think it’s worth a visit though, even if you don’t do anything.

What I don’t like

It can be gross.

If they don’t clean well enough or often enough. Very gross to walk through a dark area and step in cum.

There are trolls

Most guys take no for an answer. Most guys know when to stop, or when to not bother. That’s hard to tell though. LIke I said, you never know, so taking a try at it doesn’t hurt, as long as you respect the no.

There are drugs

I haven’t really come across anything other than the smell of pot and poppers, but I”m sure other stuff is being done.

You could catch something

Having sex with people you don’t know comes with risks, no matter where you are meeting them. You have no idea if the guy you are about to hook up with is there every day or has never been before. Does he have sex every day, or once a year? Unless you ask you don’t know. Same rules apply anywhere so…

It can still be a bit embarrassing going in

I guess that still may be me thinking there is stigma on guys who want to have sex for fun. When everyone is on grindr hooking up, I don’t know why this would still be an issue.

Luckily, most of the bathhouses have very plain entrances. Unless you know what it is, you wouldn’t know what it is.

It can still sting to be rejected

Just because everyone is there for sex doesn’t mean that they want to do it with you. You might not find anyone, you might start in a threesome that becomes as twosome without you…regroup in the hot tub or sauna and move on to somewhere else.