Why Gay Men Go To The Baths
Why Gay Men Go To The Baths

You may be sitting in front of your computer reading all of these stories, wondering why I spend so much time in a bathhouse. That is a totally fair question. This essay will give people a better understanding as to why I and so many other gay men around the world spend time at the baths.

The bathhouse scene is a real society with its own rules, culture and politics. It is a whole other world, one that has never been written about - until now. One thing the baths can offer gay men that no other gay establishment can offer is total acceptance. Let's face it; the gay community is a very segregated and superficial environment. If you are a gym bunny, you belong in the circuit scene. If you are a Twinkie, it is the nightclub and bar scene. If you are a Bear, it is the leather scene, and so on. You would be really hard pressed to find a Gay Senior or a Chub or a Visible Minority at any of the gay scenes mentioned above.

The baths is the only gay meeting place where you can see a cross section of every gay group imaginable under the same roof. On any given night you can see Latinos, Twinks, Bears, Chubs, Asians, Blacks, and Gay Seniors. Of all nationalities, all ages, and all shape and sizes. Everyone is accepted and no one is turned away at the door.

Being practically naked, there is a certain inhibition and vulnerability. Stripped down, people's walls and guards are down. It puts men interacting with one another on an equal level playing field. You have corporate lawyers interacting with truck drivers. You don't know what the other person does, since everyone is only in a towel. There is a certain equality being at the baths. Much more so than an atmosphere like a bar as people are judged by what they look like or what they wear. Being naked brings a sense of equality, with some men being better looking than others (obviously).

Yet despite all of the strides and advances that have been made for gays and lesbians in the mainstream society, it can still feel very isolating being gay in the gay community. That is why it is great to be able to go to the baths and mix with other gay men from all walks of life. But another reason as to why so many gay men go to the baths is the need to connect with someone. Why this need? One word: loneliness, or rather a subconscious feeling of loneliness.

The need for sex in the gay community is in reality a need to connect with another gay man. (Read Making The Connection for more) Whether it is a quick blowjob to anal intercourse, the sexual act fills the loneliness and the need for companionship. That is why there is a lot of sex at the baths. Simply put, there are a lot of lonely gay men in the world.

But there are also many gay men that go to the baths, looking for some sort of companionship in a non-sexual way. That is why you see more married, bi or closeted men at the baths. These men don't have many dealings interacting with the gay community and the need to connect someway with other gay men is strong. Whether it is conversation to observing two gay men having a quickie. It fills that need to be with another man. These men feel safer connecting with other gay men at the baths than the bars or clubs, because it is such a closed doors environment. What the baths offers these men is a false sense of security and acceptance. There is a sense of freedom to let go and feel uninhibited.

But it is not only these straight men having a need to connect. There are many gay men that are lonely and have this need to connect with another man as well. That is why you can see so many of the same men over and over again at the baths, just to hang out. Just as you have a regular going to the same bar nightly, that person would be labeled a regular bar patron. It is the exact same analogy as being regular bathhouse patrons (myself included). Why Like I said at the beginning, a sheer subconscious feeling of loneliness and a need to connect with other gay men.

The bathhouse I go to on a regular basis (and is the backdrop to all of these stories) is known in my city as the friendlier place to go. All the regular clientele is warm and friendly. In short, it is not only a sexual atmosphere, but a social one as well. That social aspect is the primary reason why men go to this particular bathhouse. The available sex is the secondary reason. Usually it is the other way around, so that is why this bathhouse is so special. Also, you do not have to restrict yourself to do just one thing. If there is no one interesting around, there are other things you can do. You can sit in the sauna/steam room, you can relax in the whirlpool, you can read magazines in the lounge, you can watch TV or porn flicks, and you can chat with other guys. There is something for everyone.

When you start seeing the same men over and over again, conversation really does start to take place. And a friendship can develop. But the thing you have to remember is that all of these friendships are superficial. Once you leave the baths, you never see these men again until the next bathhouse visit. And that is only by the off chance you run into them again. And you can easily pick up the conversation where you last left off. That could have been a week ago, or even six months ago. For instance, a while ago I was sitting in the lounge with another friend shooting the breeze. There were many guys that passed by us, and I said hello to this person and to that person. And I knew all of them, 15 in all. But I'm experienced enough to know that these relationships are superficial and don't go out of the bathhouse environment.

If you are aware that all of the relationships you develop at the baths are superficial, that's great. Unfortunately, many guys buy into this false sense of security that they are developing relationships at the baths. If you TRULY think you are developing a friendship, you are setting yourself up for a BIG fall. Plus not all bathhouses are friendly. Conversation is practically non-existent at many bathhouses across the country. The majority of them are rather cold and uninviting. For example, another bathhouse in my city attracts the most drop dead gorgeous men; everyone looks like they have stepped out of GQ magazine. Yet if you even happen to glance at any of these men, they will verbally rip you to shreds. The atmosphere is so intense; the guys are there for one reason. Getting laid as much as possible. So the sex is clinical and functionary, the way a lot of baths are.

Therefore, I keep going to this one particular bathhouse (not the one with the gorgeous men), because of its friendliness. I have been a loyal customer, ten years. My personal reason of going is to escape. After a long day, it is wonderful to escape from the world. To have a steam/sauna, dip in the whirlpool, and chat up someone. You really feel as if you have escaped from the world, just for a little bit, and that no one will find you. You are away from cell-phones, faxes, e-mail, pagers and everybody in the world. Sometimes it is funny. I will be in the baths, sitting in the lounge, completely naked, in my towel watching the 6 0 clock news. Beside me are a coffee, and a roaring fireplace. I look out of the window and see it is raining. There on television is the real world, and here I am behind closed doors, in this escape world. The irony does not escape me.

39 thoughts on “Why Gay Men Go To The Baths”

  1. Most men who go to the baths do so because it’s expedient. They want sex with a guy. Pleasure. They are not looking for love and romance, nor are they looking for social interaction. There is little or no conversation. Communication is done with body language. The majority of the clients are closeted married guys or gay guys who don’t have a boyfriend, or they are cheating on their boyfriend. They are there to AVOID emotional connection. They simply want the sex. They are not there to service you; they are there to use your body. If you’re at the bath and hoping to find an emotional connection or boyfriend, you’re fishing in the wrong type of waters. But the sex is like cocaine high. Immediately afterward, you often feel guilt or remorse…. and the only way to fix it is to do it all over again.

  2. To read what you write jells so much of what I’ve sensed but couldn’t articulate. I just want you to know that you’re a gift and you’ve shared it with me. La Rochefoucald’s search for truth by knowing oneself, finds the most progress with you I’ve seen. You’ve helped me see that too. I just wish I could have gotten to your point at 30, what a lucky guy you are!

  3. My friend, first of all I have to say I pretty much agree with your bathhouse blog. The stories are interesting and quite real. The fact that the gay community is so cliquey sickens me actually. Myself, I tend to be attracted to Asian men mostly, but also enjoy other races as well. One thing I won’t do is to be rude to someone or not talk to him just because of his “race”. My belief is you should treat the person the same way, as you want to be treated. Thank you for your stories. You sound like such a nice person.

    1. To TOM VLASIC –

      Sir, I have NEVER been so comforted by an article in all my life as I was (am) by yours. I believe you have not only hit the nail on the head, but you have answered questions I have felt for the past 35 years. What you said struck a note with me, one that resonates more each time I think about it, and every time I read it – I simply feel much better about myself, thanks to you.

      I hope this message gets to you as yours has gotten to me, and again, thank you…

  4. Keep up the great writing skills you have. I enjoy reading them. It makes me feel like I am at the baths.

  5. My dear, I’m a Brazilian guy living for 6 months in Canada with the purpose of learning English. In Brazil it’s easy to make the connection and get sex, but here in Canada…

    That’s why I tried bathhouses. First I lived in Vancouver, where I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life: I met a guy in a bathhouse who immediately I connected with. We could even date, but I had to leave the city and now I live in Edmonton, where my experiences haven’t been so good. I feel people not as nice as people in BC. Here they seem afraid of each other, and just a little movement happens in the bathhouses.

    I really like the smoothness of Asian bodies, and I tried to get sex with two Asian guys: the first one touched my dick, and when I asked to fuck him he told that he would never do this, and quickly left the room!

    The other one asked to suck me and 10 secs later stopped and told me I was smelling, and simply turned back!

    I’m going back to Vancouver next month, luckily. What can you say me about the houses here in Canada, and how to show I’m a top?

    Thank you so much. Take care.

  6. Hi! I chanced upon your site today and I absolutely love your entries. In fact, I’m amazed that someone has actually documented down all his bath house experiences. Great job! I’m definitely bookmarking your blog

  7. Thank you! I read your words and it helped me understand what is happening in our community. I am a Gay black man. I have felt the same as you when it comes to dealing with white men, but I will say I too ignored Asian men it was not until I traveled to China and meet men that changed my perception. Your article has helped me. Thank

  8. Hi. I have never been to a bathhouse. After perusing your wealth of bathhouse knowledge, I find myself quite curious. I wish to thank you for your words of wisdom. I would also like to let you know that I am a 30-something GWM, and I wouldn’t hesitate to make any, interested, GAM smile!

  9. Wow, yours has to be the saddest, most pathetic website I’ve ever seen posted on the Net.

    I guess you were sitting at a coffee shop one day, and thinking, “fuck, I’m nothing but a used up old Whore, I’ve done nothing with my life, except endless, repetitive, compulsive, addictive cock sucking day in & day out, and I’ve wasted all my opportunities … what am I going to do with myself!?” .. then you had the “brilliant” idea that you could take your “marketable” skills as an Old Slut, and teach others of the “sex-addict wisdom” you’ve acquired .. is that the story? Wow man, you are one big, fucked up sex addict!

    That you can even think what you’re doing has any redeemable qualities attached to it is even more pathetic than the so called “service” you think you’re offering. Ya, that’s a great thing to be encouraging confused, closeted, married men to do .. how to become desensitized, how to be totally disconnected from their deeper needs of intimacy, belonging, and love .. ya, teach them how to walk the halls of the baths at 2:00 a.m. for years on end (like you yourself have) .. teach them how to numb out from their real feelings of loneliness and the longing for real connection, show them how to block out the passage of time and opportunity, and advise them of the best position for propping their ass up in the air to look inviting to all the other whores passing by their doorways as if on a conveyor belt of addiction.

    Sister .. get yourself to a therapist .. or to a 12-Step meeting for sexual addiction, because if you really think this is your “life’s calling” you are in a very sad and dangerous state of mind indeed! Wake up you stupid, old Whore .. this is NOT what you should be doing with your energy and creativity. This is NOT a service .. It’s a pathetic, last ditch attempt to attach some worth, meaning and credibility to the empty pit of your own experiences .. you’re trying to make it look like some slick, professional service, but this is so transparent .. you’ve hit the wall Mary .. you’ve run out of exit doors, and you think this might, in some pathetic way, give legitimacy to your decades of emptiness and unproductively.

    I will really say a prayer for you .. because you’re really walking in the dark backwards, and you clearly have given up on yourself. There is help out there, and I think you know that. Good luck ..and I really hope you can find some real reason to be alive .. and showing people how to “successfully” navigate in a world of emptiness, self-loathing, loneliness and empty, driven, addictive sexual ritual .. honey .. that’s not a reason to be a human being on this earth. You must have more in you than that … don’t you? I think you do .. and I hope you reach out to find the help you so desperately need.

    Don’t bother responding .. as I’m not too interested in hearing some self-deluded rant about what a great thing you’re doing .. and how you’re helping all these poor, closested guys .. etc. etc. What those men need is therapy to help them feel good about being gay, how to come out, how to find a positive, gay social environment, how to date, and find a partner that will love and care for them .. all of them .. not some lonely version of themselves roaming the halls of the local bathouse in a towel.

    I hope you find some inner sense of peace, and the love you deserve .. both from yourself, and from other people .. not more strangers in the dark who could care less if you live or die .. or anything else about you. Bye for now.

  10. Well, I fell on your site and fell in love with it. I’m 36 and have been going to baths safely for years. Some of your stuff is awesome — I totally understand. As for me, I’m a white guy, and I really don’t care which race I have sex with. I go to the baths to get naked, get hard (I never use a towel), and suck and fuck and just have a great time. I never understood this deal where you have to be having sex with either the “right” looking guy, or “right” race, or whatever. Hell, if a guy wants to suck my dick he can go for it and I do the same thing. Anyway, I’ll keep reading. Hit me back with an e-mail sometime.

  11. Great Great Great. You really tell your side of the story, and you tell it like it is. It’s too bad you must stay anonymous but some of the things you say might not be taken in a constructive light.

  12. I met my current young lover 4 years ago after our first month and I took him to a bathhouse, his first experience. He was surprised and grateful that I would share this with him. He found your site for me last night. I love what you have done here. I’m not sure how to participate yet but I’ll keep looking. Thank You.

  13. I found your site very interesting. When I thought about it I’ve probably been coming to the baths for 25 years, but definitely not 3 times a week!

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and so noticed some differences between your experience and mine – I am a 52 year old GWM, so I guess that’s to be expected.

    Aussie baths normally have private rooms available to anyone who’s paid the door charge. Entry varies from about $US7 – 10, depending on the place, and the time of day. The rooms are basic, with a bench for lying on, an adjustable light, and normally basic supplies – paper towel, lube, condoms. Glory holes tend to be in glory hole areas – there’s one place in Sydney where there’s cubicles on two levels – the bottom level for those who suck, the top level for the tops, who shove their dicks through the holes. They get quite a workout.

    In all the time I’ve been going there, nobody has ever asked me for money, although someone I once met there became a hustler some time later.

    I can’t remember people keeping their clothes on much – only once, a very beautiful Asian guy who kept his jeans on – it was his way of slowing things down so that he was able to negotiate with the person he wanted to have sex with.
    I’m a rice queen, I guess you could say, and I have noticed that whilst I might have been a minority of one a long time ago, a lot of Aussies with Anglo backgrounds are interested in Asian men here right now.

    And my 35 year old Chinese boyfriend gets a lot of interest and offers at our local suburban gym, which seems to be the experience of a number of Asian men I know. Too much eye contact from interested parties, rather than not enough.

    I haven’t researched this, but I’ve often wondered about it: sometimes the kinds of people I want are all over me, sometimes they won’t have anything to do with me. The last two times I went to the baths – the first time there were eight or ten men I was interested in, not one of them was interested in me. The next time, there were about the same number, and nobody said “no”.

    Was it that the first time I was just unlucky, this particular group of people were only interested in younger men? Or was it some subliminal message I was giving them? (BTW, none of them took me on in preference to another Asian – not that I’m aware of, anyway).

    I’ve certainly met a lot of people at the baths, some of whom are my friends to this day (including an ex now living in San Francisco). But I’ve also experienced a complete sense of desolation and loneliness, to the point where the light goes out of my eyes (and people comment on it, as in “When I first met you, your eyes seemed completed dead, so far gone it was scary” – I don’t actually think going to the baths does a lot for my life energy. And my experience was that it was a training in desire – always looking at the next person, not being satisfied with the one you have right now.

    My current boyfriend won’t go near the baths, and hates me going there. He has an acute ability to pick when I’ve snuck off there (lying to him doesn’t work, he can always work it out) – he gets so angry he’s left me with bruises all over. But I still have this desire for … affirmation, and some form of connection, some how.

    I think it’s good you’ve got your website up and running.

  14. I enjoy meeting people for mutual entertainment; I enjoy anything that’s safe and sane!!!

    Had good time on Monday night at Man Club, Met Kiwi Guy with BIG BLACK COCK & He screwed me a few times, with the other guys there!!!

    “Born to take it, both ends!!! All the time!!!”

  15. I love your site – once I stumbled onto it, I couldn’t stop reading. Not that I agree with you on everything, but that doesn’t matter. You’re thoughtful and smart – and you write about a place no one else is writing about. I love the bath houses . I travel all over the country (and Europe) and have seen more bath houses than I can remember. So thanks for keeping this web site. And remember that some of us white boys under forty really do love Asian (or as my friend says, Gaysian) men. The only reason I can imagine that more white guys don’t hit on Asian guys is because most white guys don’t have any taste. Keep up the good work.

  16. Great site — your journals are well-written and interesting; it’s neat that someone has taken such an objective look @ the baths — it’s a unique world — nothing else comes close

  17. When I came out I fell into the lusty world of things here in NYC. I have always wondered what if I had never been born here. But at the same time I have no regrets on my sexuality or carnality. I enjoy the quick and unpretentious of the instant encounter. At the same time I have always tried to remain a nice, mannered and decent guy. I believe you do too. When people say the word “slut” remember that’s its an anagram for the word “lust” and out of all the 7 deadly sins I will gladly have that rather than greed, envy, hate, etc. I am open to a relationship or a quickie. I let life define itself as it unfurls itself to me. No agendas. Goals and dreams yes.Thanks for taking the time for writing your diaries. They show a mind of intelligence behind the primal lust.

  18. And I thought I’d given some thought to the psychology/sociology/pathology of the baths! it will take me some time to absorb your observations and I’m looking forward to responding to them.

  19. Your site is great – i really enjoyed reading it. As a fellow gay man I could relate to your experiences. Thank you for your insights and candor! Take care – keep up the good work.

  20. I haven’t read all your articles yet, but I would like to thank you for sharing your experience. When I get a bit more time I may share some of my stories with you.

  21. I have never been to a bathhouse… It’s always been forbidden fruit to me. I even walked in one in Chicago then walked out–I lost my nerve. I just lost my boyfriend because he likes to go tricking around and I can barely stand to go to a bar! So, I’m feeling like I may have to loosen up some. I’ve been out to my parents and a few friends only for the past five years. Back then, in 1996, my model of a relationship was like what my mom & dad have, only it’s two guys. Boy, was I naive…I’m still not comfortable with how fluid gay relationships are. I don’t do casual sex–it’s so frightening and alluring at the same time–though I’ve had plenty of opportunities. That’s why I’m writing. It is really valuable to be able to read what it’s like so I’ll know what to expect–if I ever get my courage together to try a bathhouse again or casual, “recreational” sex. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  22. Just went to a bathhouse for the first time last weekend. It was an interesting experience. I am really grateful for your website for giving me the courage to give it a try. I definitely did not regret my descision. Loved hearing your stories about the experiemces and people you found there. I definitely want to give it another try.

  23. I just want to thank you for sharing your stories – I’ve never been to a bath house, but want to go. Until now, I haven’t found an honest description of what the world inside is like. You’ve given me a great personal sense of it, and now, I may just step inside and feel more comfortable (and excited) about the experience. Thanks

  24. Liked your stories. But I found some of what you say quite disturbing. It seems to me that you have given your closet a physical essence (the walls of the bathhouse) and that you are comfortable with yourself inside the bathhouse but not outside it. Get a relationship outside the bathhouse & get more comfortable there too. remember, the bathhouse is just a physical closet & in some ways it seems to have become your prison.

  25. Loved reading your writing. You hit the nail right on the hammer. Or is it the other way around? LOL I just find it amusing that I am one of the only guys I know who likes Asians when I go to the baths. But then again I’m one of the only guys I know who will talk while relaxing there. Anyways keep it up. I enjoyed the stories.

  26. This is fantastic, everything so true, like you, I am a bathhouse fan and some of the most interesting things have happened. I found that some towns have friendlier places and bathhouses, not full of the Adonis types and guys who just want to talk. One crazy experience, in a normal place, hooked up with a guy and we jerked off in the whirl pool ‘in front of the others’, he thought I was mad…

  27. I love your stories and got so excited by them. I wish I could find one of these facilities to find out more about myself. Can you tell me where to find a good one? I lived in Pittsburgh once for six years but have not seen any

  28. Hey, did you actually do that stuff? I’ve never done anything sexual, and I’m still totally in the closet. So these stories are awesome, but have you ever seen any guys get seduced? that would be a great story. email me, cya

  29. Hi loved reading what you said. I myself visited the Water Gardens everyday. I actually studied for school there and got a lot done while guys were fucking in the next room heehe I’m white guy 45 love Asian guys since I was 20 I guess. 5 9″ slim smooth 29w 150# I would love to meet you.

  30. Hi, I believe we have something in common. I too have been going to the bathhouses for a couple of years now. I got interested in bathhouses in Europe. I truly believe they have the best houses. I now live in Michigan and use to frequent the bathhouse in Chicago. The steam works as it is called now (before=unicorn). There you have all shapes and size and color. I love the clientele. I hope to hear from you soon on the subject.

  31. Gguuuurrrrrrllllll, lets tell the truth about what is really seen at the baths or a.k.a. grandma’s!!!!!!! My friends and I went and yes I was fun but let me just say that anyone, no matter how they look will show up there expecting to get some…. no ma’am some three hundred pound walrus was floating around in the pool ” on a raft ” and four other trolls were , well lets just saying getting down poolside for our viewing disgust but trust it was a place to go instead of going home cracked… so I’m not bitching at all it was quite hilarious – so honey when you write your experiences add a chapter entitled ” The no ma’am chapter “

  32. Hey, I live far away from you, but my observations and guys’ behavior in Polish gay baths are exactly the same. The same way we get hot, the same way we suffer when rejected or disregarded by more cute and younger guys. But still… we keep going there. Have you ever thought about publishing your stories as a book?

  33. I found these stories sweet, touching and honest. I’ve never been to the baths and really have no desire to go. But I love the open heartedness of the author and would like to talk and cuddle for hours with such a beautiful soul.

  34. I enjoyed reading your stories. Now I was wondering where this friendly bath house is located. I went to one in Chicago a few years ago on Western. The people there were very friendly, I don’t believe it is still there though. Anyway, thanks for the interesting page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove You Are Not Spam * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.