The Price of Admission
The Price of Admission

So let me ask you a question? What can $17.00 buy you right now? The novel you need for the next book club? A CD? Some groceries? A few packs of cigarettes? Well for me, $17.00 is the cost of admission to buy a room for six hours at the baths. The price of admission.

When it comes to the baths, I have lost all perspective on how I have spent my money. I have spent at least three times a week at the baths for the past ten years. Now if you take the $17.00 I spend per visit and multiply it by 3 (for three times a week), you come up with $51.00. $50 bucks a week is a lot of money for some people. But if you multiply that $50.00 by 52 weeks for the year, that would average out to $2,600.00 a year that I spent going to the baths. And the entire ten years I have been going to the baths, I would have spent $26,000.00!! Believe me, I could use that money right now.

Some days I feel like an addict, with the way I spend my money on this activity. It never seems to matter if I only have ten bucks to my name or $1,000 dollars owing on my credit card. Come hell or high water, I will cough up enough money to make it to the baths. I have tried to stop, but unfortunately it is an addiction. Just like drinking, smoking and even breathing. In the early days of my going to the baths, I would be constantly obsessing in the back of my mind. I was always wondering if there was some cute guy at the baths that I am missing right now. I would want to see who is there, what is going on, take in the excitement and pleasure of a raw man/sex environment that you will not find anywhere else. I would hem and haw, back and forth, until finally I went. Now I do not have that conversation in my head anymore. I just go. It is almost like a routine. Three times a week at the same time, you can always find me at the baths. Sometimes think I could be at the gym, or watching a movie, or even getting my housework done, instead of aimlessly walking up and down the hallways of a bathhouse, which is half-empty anyways. But no, here I am for the umpteenth time, hoping that the next great lay is around the corner.

Now the cost of going to the baths is a bit expensive no matter which bathhouse you go to. $17.00 to $20.00 is a lot of money to some people, especially for some of the retired men that are on a fixed income. Some other places feature "specialty rooms" that can set you back $25.00 to $35.00. These "specialty rooms" are priced according to what the room features. Some of the rooms may have a television, allowing the user to view porn films in the comfort of their room. While other rooms may feature a king size bed, mirrors on the ceiling, or even a sling for those guys into S+M and bondage. These special types of rooms will be much more expensive, ranging from $35.00 all the way to $50.00 for a six hour stay.

That is why lockers are much more popular. Lockers are cheaper, about $9.00 to $12.00 for a six-hour stay. The only problem with a locker is that you do not get any privacy. If you are tired of cruising the hallways and want some time for yourself, there is nowhere to hide. But the worst part about getting a locker is if you meet a guy and both of you have no room, then it gets difficult to hook up. When that has happened to me, what I have done (and have seen others do) is upgrade from a locker to a room. First you have to decide, do I want to absorb this cost or should both parties split the difference. Then if you both decide to go Dutch, who will get the room, after both of you are done? What I have usually done is just upgrade, and absorb the cost myself. But to upgrade, only a few bathhouses (including the one I go to) will allow you to do this. And only if you ask nicely and explain the situation (I found a hot guy!) But most do not, since it is such a hassle for the desk attendant to upgrade you from a locker to a room. The desk attendant has to calculate the difference, check you out from a locker, and re-check you into a room. Then you have to dash to your locker, grab your clothes, rush to your new room and dump your clothes, race back to the desk to return your locker key, and then run back to your room and finally have your sexual moment in the sun. Now since an upgrade is so complicated, most guys will just try to find a secluded spot in the bathhouse, like the sauna or a dark corner in the hallway. But the problem with that is with all of the cruising up and down the hallways, people will find you and stare. So I have seen guys say to each other, "Your place or mine" and actually leave the baths together.

While most of the time you can walk into a bathhouse with no identification required, some bathhouses do require you to purchase a membership. The membership is only used to make sure you are not an ax murderer or a gay basher. Management is sometimes a bit wary of whom they let through the doors. People who have an ax to grind generally will not purchase a membership just to get in. Membership may also give the user a huge discount, if he plans on making multiple visits to the baths. After years of going to my "friendly" bathhouse I have recently purchased a membership, to save money since I go three times a week. It is a pretty good deal, considering the amount of money I am paying. It is cool to be a regular, one of the few in an anonymous environment like this one. I even have a regular room, which the staff always tries to give me.

But I do think and worry about the money I am spending. After all, I could have bought a condo by now. There have also been times when I have struck out and picked up a hustler (which is rare, but only when I have been horny as hell and desperate). After leaving, I am walking on the street thinking to myself "$17.00 plus $40.00 that is $57.00!!! What could have I spent that on?" Then I go through the list of things in my head. The new CD I wanted, the pair of pants I needed to buy, that leather jacket I have been eyeing in the store window, or my lunch money for the upcoming week. It is funny; I will not spend 50 cents to purchase the daily newspaper, preferring to get a free copy. But I have no qualms about forking over $17.00 for a bathhouse visit!

But I am not the only one spending this much money. I see the same people at the baths over and over again, in the same rooms, week after week, year after year. So those guys are spending just as much, maybe even more money than me. So while I am distressed about the amount of money I am forking over per week for this little "activity", I have to put it in perspective. Many other guys fork over money for other activities that are just as expensive. Such as golf, circuit parties, and bar hopping, they all cost money. A man may spend $100 taking a guy out to dinner, with absolutely no idea if this money will buy a night in bed, some hot sex or maybe even some further fun.

When you think about it, for $17.00, the odds are better at the baths.

13 thoughts on “The Price of Admission”

  1. There are 12 step programs for people with “sex addiction.” Sexual Compulsives Anonymous is in NYC, Chicano and St Louis and gay friendly.

  2. When I first came out in 1987, I lived in suburban San Diego, CA. At that time there were four bathhouses: The Vulcan, located off of Pacific Highway, Club San Diego, in Hillcrest, The Mustang in North Park, and Dave’s in Ocean Beach. I went to all of them particularly, The Vulcan, reading about the different themes, brings back lots of memories. All I need now is the music, from that era. The last time I was back there, I know that The Vulcan and Club San Diego were the only ones open. For my money, The Vulcan is the friendliest.

  3. Do they check ID at the bathhouses because I am planning to go to one but lost my drivers license. I am currently waiting for the DMV to send me another one but I am so horny I just want to know if a can go without id.

  4. I am going to L.A. on a business trip in October and haven’t been to a bathhouse in about 25 years, so I know things have changed. I read you article about the price of admission, but what about the price of other things at the baths? What is the average price of lube and other items for sale there? I am a married, bi WM and just want to enjoy this opportunity, which may not come again.

  5. I would like to know the address for the bathhouses in NY city area. I do not know where to find them. I tried searching the web, but nothing came up. Could you help?

  6. My addiction to the bathhouse was at least twice a week before I came out to the world. I came out when I was 50 years old. My Family was raised. We divorced within six months of my coming out. I’m now in my 62nd year have not been to a bathhouse for two years. Living with AIDS very little sex drive but continue to be attracted to men. I’ve finally accepted myself and am as happy as any man can be living in a heterosexual society.

  7. Enjoyed your writings about the baths. I have years of experiences at the baths and appreciated your perceptions very much. Come to Honolulu sometime and enjoy the appreciation of Asian men that we have here

  8. Excellent very helpful wish there had been this info. Written so realistically & in an affirmative manner, when I started visiting bath houses. congratulations

  9. I love reading the stories about bathhouses. I have been going to one in California and have been happy with the way people are treated there. But the other day I approach a guy and touch his chest and he threw an elbow at me, just missing my nose. I could see if I was bothering him and coming on to him multiple times, but it was my first approach. Everyone hates rejection, but this was the first time I didn’t feel rejected. How can anyone treat another person like that. When I saw him later in the night, I wanted to go up to him and punch out his lights, but thought otherwise. Anyway, keep up the great stories

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