Aug 26, 2017

15 Reasons You Should Go to A Bathhouse

There are only about 30 gay bath houses left in the United States, down from the hundreds in the 1970s -- they have fallen prey to homophobic health regulations, a puritanical culture, and hook-up apps like Grindr.  But chances are you're within 300 miles of one, and it's well worth a destination visit.

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.

9. There's no hurry.  Club meetings end in a few hours, bars end at 2:00 am, but most clubs are open 24 hours a day, and your membership is good for 12 hours.  You can also go out, have dinner, and come back again.

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.

13. If you just want to meet people, striking up a conversation is much easier in a bath house than in other gay venues.  Something about being naked or in a towel makes most men lose the Attitude.

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: 15 Rules of Gay Cruising.; That Bathhouse in West Hollywood

Aug 22, 2017

Can't Stop the Music

My brother, who is heterosexual, was a big fan of The Village People (also Barbara Streisand, Liza with a Z, and Olivia Newton-John).  During the winter after Grease, when their "Y.M.C.A." hit #1 on the pop charts, he kept asking me "Why don't you like them?  They're gay, aren't they? Like ABBA?"

That's the problem.  They weren't about being gay, they were about innuendo.

During the 1970s, the old stereotype of the gay man as a mincing, lisping queen received some competition from the stereotype of the Castro Clone: slim, hairy, with a Tom Selleck moustache, a lumberjack shirt, and tight jeans.  The Castro Clone had three passions: disco, drugs, and sex, and he partook of vast quantities of all of them.  So they were pure ids rather than prissy superegos.  It caught on, and even today, students tell me that "Gay men can't control their sex drive" about as often as "Gay men think they're women."

Record producer Jacques Morelli capitalized on the new stereotype by designing the Village People, a mismatched group of Tom of Finland cartoons solicited from the streets of Greenwich Village: The Soldier, The Cop, The Construction Worker, The Cowboy, The Leatherman, and The Indian (wait -- Tom of Finland never drew any Indians).

Only The Indian (Felipe Rose) was gay in real life, and even he gave interviews with teen magazines talking about the kind of girls he liked.

They were all straight pretending to be gay, or rather hinting that they might be gay (except the Indian, who was gay pretending to be straight hinting that he might be gay).

The lyrics to their songs seemed perfectly innocent and uplifting.

"In the Navy": Can't you see we need a hand, come and join your fellow man.
"Y.M.C.A.": They have everything for young men to enjoy, you can hang out with all the boys

But the fun for listeners was in realizing that the lyrics could be read as dirty, feeling marvelously knowledgeable about the nasty, decadent world of the Castro Clone.

I didn't find it fun.

I still went to see the fictionalized account of the rise of the Village People, Can't Stop the Music (1980), because it starred Steve Guttenberg (who starred in The Chicken Chronicles) as record producer Jack Morel, who wears incredibly tight pants as he roller-discos through life.

And athlete Bruce Jenner (now Caitlin Jenner) as Ron White, his business partner and apparently his boyfriend.

There are ample shirtless and underwear, plus full frontal male but no female nudity, and no heterosexual sex scenes.  But there's a heterosexual love story, all of the Village People are presented as heterosexual, and no gay people appear.

Or rather, everyone is gay.  The fun is in seeing how open they could get without actually having to admit that they are aware that gay people exist.

See also: Culture Club.

Aug 20, 2017

How I Found Nico Greetham

The problem with popular culture is, they keep making more of it.  Not only am I expected to know all about my childhood favorites, like The Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, Mission: Impossible, I Dream of Jeannie, Batman, and Get Smart.  I have to know about the childhood favorites of people born in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, like Saved by the Bell, Gimme a Break, We Got it Made, Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Married: With Children, Lost, Twin Peaks, Pete and Pete, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Modern Family.  

Sometimes it all blurs together in my mind.

For example, I heard that One Direction's Harry Styles had been linked romantically with Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw, who is gay.  The name Nick Grimshaw sounded vaguely familiar.

So I looked in my folder of beefcake photos waiting for future posts, and sure enough, there were some shirtless shots of a Nick Greetham that I found while researching someone else. Must be the same person.  And Radio 1 must be a singing competition like The X-Factor.

But the only Nick Greetham I could find on the internet was the manager of a print shop in South Africa.  His facebook photo showed  him kissing a girl.  Not gay, not a singer.  I must have gotten the name wrong.

So I looked up everyone who has appeared recently on The X-Factor.  Nothing.  But there was a Nico Greetham who performs on So You Think You Can Dance.  He's an 18-year old recent high school graduate from Woodbridge, Virginia.

Not dating Harry Styles.

Well, is he gay?  Or does his work have any gay subtexts?

The IMDB revealed only two credits, the heterosexist So You Think You Can Dance and the movie From Within (2008), where he played "Boy on Bicycle."

The Broadway Database revealed nothing.

A google search on "Nico Greetham" and "gay" revealed a tumblr that says "Age: 19 Male. Gay," but that might just be a fan.

His tweets are noncommittal, but one of his images showed him hugging a guy, Paul Kamiryan.  Could that be his boyfriend?

Now I had to find Paul Kamiryan.  More research.
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