Bath­house blitz

GA Voice - - Sex & Dating -

By RYAN LEE

I was re­cently at a meet-the-neigh­bors cock­tail party at my friend’s home in a gen­tri­fied swath of the West End when a woman started telling us about how she and her hus­band were headed to a swingers’ club af­ter the gath­er­ing. I ex­pressed en­thu­si­as­tic fas­ci­na­tion, mainly be­cause I’ve al­ways been cu­ri­ous about the het­ero­sex­ual ver­sion of sex clubs, but also be­cause most of the con­ver­sa­tions that night cen­tered on home ren­o­va­tion projects.

“Well, ev­ery­one walks around in noth­ing but a towel,” she whis­pered as if she were ex­pos­ing for me a for­bid­den un­der­ground world.

My friend and I flashed each other dev­il­ish glances and I in­ter­jected, “We’re gay. You can skip the ba­sics and get straight to the sex.”

Gay cul­ture has a long and touchy his­tory with sex venues. In their best light, sex clubs and bath­houses are treated as our naughty lit­tle se­cret, but they are most of­ten con­sid­ered a political li­a­bil­ity or pub­lic health risk.

In re­al­ity, most sex clubs are sexy and shady, ex­hil­a­rat­ing and sober­ing, spir­i­tual and de­hu­man­iz­ing, he­do­nis­tic and a huge let­down. And, un­de­ni­ably, they would be the envy of most het­ero­sex­ual men (if they were aware of them), who can only have wet dreams about venues where a will­ing, al­ready naked sex part­ner is around ev­ery cor­ner.

FLEX

The neigh­bor­hood gath­er­ing was on the Fri­day night of a hol­i­day week­end, and our dirty talk with the kinky house­wife left my friend and me tin­gling for some towel-wear­ing ex­plo­rations of our own. We went to the pa­tri­arch of At­lanta’s sex play spa­ces: Flex Bath­house in Mid­town near Ge­or­gia Tech.

My friend saved a cou­ple of dol­lars by rent­ing a locker, while I fig­ured it was worth the ex­tra $10 for a pri­vate room for us to be able to “host” any cute guys we came across.

My friend and I dis­robed and wrapped

Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016

our tow­els around our waists, then took a loop around the hall­ways of the main floor, pass­ing other towel-clad men and glanc­ing into a few rooms where guys were stroking invit­ingly or wait­ing with their asses in the air.

There’s not much ro­mance or small talk at bath­houses, which are al­most 3-D ver­sions of chat rooms where guys are likely to flash their man­hood and ask if you wanna suck it be­fore they say hello. By the time we made it past the glory hole setup, my friend had ex­changed words with some­one and whis­pered to me that he needed the room key, so I con­tin­ued to the lower level, where about a dozen guys were loung­ing in the dry sauna and eye­ing each other.

I popped my head into the steam room to com­plete the cy­cle through Flex, and by the time I made it back to the dry sauna a cou­ple of guys had grown bold enough to com­mence some ac­tion.

It was about 45 min­utes of cruis­ing be­fore I had my first con­nec­tion, which turned into a four­some when my friend needed the room again for his new­est con­quest.

THE DEN

A hid­den gem of gay At­lanta is the “Lunch Ses­sion” that The Den hosts five days a week. While usu­ally hop­ping dur­ing evenings and week­ends, The Den also serves a niche of men hun­gry for a day­time re­lease. The am­biance at The Den is al­most per­fect for a work­day ses­sion, as the pri­mary area is a maze of cu­bi­cles with mat­tresses for those who need them.

The Den isn’t for the shy; in­stead of a towel, pa­trons are given a wash­cloth. As at Flex, The Den sup­plies free con­doms, but the lat­ter also pro­vides com­pli­men­tary lube. An­other dif­fer­ence is the clien­tele, as The Den is a fa­vorite of black and Latino men.

Af­ter a few min­utes of cruis­ing, I came across a mus­cle bot­tom get­ting drilled while a group of guys watched. I joined the au­di­ence, ex­chang­ing know­ing looks with an­other guy who was watch­ing as oth­ers started to ease his hunger. Even­tu­ally, the fel­low voyeur and I made our way to the com­mu­nal dark room, adding our moans to the gut­tural cho­rus.

Hav­ing pa­tron­ized sex clubs and bath- houses for 15 years, I know that some nights you leave eu­phoric and oth­ers you leav­ing say­ing, “Never again!” In that time, the group sex scene has def­i­nitely shifted to­ward pri­vate sex par­ties, ar­ranged over the in­ter­net and via text mes­sages.

I’ll al­ways have a soft spot for old­school sex venues, which many in our com­mu­nity view with em­bar­rass­ment or con­tempt, but which I cel­e­brate as a pri­mally unique facet of gay cul­ture.

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