Christmas @ The Baths
Christmas @ The Baths

One of the unique aspects of a bathhouse is the hours. You can go at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The baths are even open during the holidays. As a veteran of the tubs, I have gone on Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Easter Sunday, and Xmas Day. Yes, as strange as it sounds, the baths attract a minority of men on Christmas Day. You must be reading this, thinking, “Being at the baths on Christmas, how pathetic. It must be truly depressing.” Well, yes and no.

Let’s start on Christmas Eve. It is dead during the day, as many people are still doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. But the evening is a mixed bag, depending on where you live. The bathhouse I go to is completely dead during the evening. However, some bathhouses plan Christmas Eve parties. For example, the Flexbaths in Cleveland, Ohio, have a special Xmas Eve bash yearly. The following letter is from the manager of the Cleveland Flexbaths.

After reading your Xmas story, I had to comment. Of course, it is all true, but sometimes the slant should be slightly different. After becoming a manager here, I learned we had to be open on Christmas Eve and Day. I am sure you know how desolate a bathhouse can be on Christmas Eve. Not wanting to be alone on Christmas Eve, throwing a party with a purpose was easy. Everyone who was a record member (paid six months or yearly membership) before Dec 23rd got in free. Any room in the club was free for our standard 8-hour limit. We had a full buffet–also free. To top it off, a leather Santa visited to distribute gifts for all “bad” boys. It worked! That was five years ago, and now, this is the most popular party spot in town on Christmas Eve. The premise was simple: have a party for everyone. Behind the premise was the genuine knowledge that many men do not have a place to gather as a family on Christmas Eve. It was an opportunity to provide them with that “family,” even if ever so fleeting. Because this became a popular yearly event, we now have more men coming to the baths because they know there will be men there, and they will be in a party mood, not a sad “there is no place else to go” mood. That is the tubs’ friendly side, and it is always great to see men enjoying men and their company.

That is Christmas Eve. But why go to a bathhouse on Christmas Day? Because with the bars and clubs closed, the gay baths are the only place open for gay men to meet. Since it is Xmas, many bathhouses try to organize something special. At my regular bathhouse, the staff puts together a Christmas buffet. It is a complete turkey dinner with all of the fixings. Picture this – 20 to 30 men all lined up at the buffet table, plate in hand, wearing only a towel. That is truly a sight you have to see for yourself. Then see a whole array of men sitting around in the lounge area, eating a turkey dinner practically naked. There is a Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, and even Christmas music. So it is like a party.

Who are some men who go to the baths on Christmas Day? A few years ago, I did some internal surveying. I asked, “Why are you here on Christmas Day?” You have men who don’t celebrate Xmas because of their religion, such as Jewish men who observe Hanukkah. Then you have some men who’ve finished celebrating with their families and go to the baths to kill some time. You also have men who are not out to their families. Some get anxious and uptight, putting on a charade for most of the day. Feeling like a fraud, they need to interact with other gay men. After a day of pretending, it’s a way to feel good about themselves.

Some men did not want to go to see their families. While others just had no family to speak of. But many gay men genuinely had no place to go on Christmas Day. I remember asking one guy at the baths what he did on Christmas. He said he was here (at the baths), and it was packed. I was surprised, thinking he would be with his family, and I told him that. He then looked down and said he and his family don’t speak. He then ran off. I felt terrible for pressing him like that and went to apologize when I saw him again. But he brushed it off, saying his family was always a sore spot.

Some others had to work earlier in the day and dropped by the baths to relax with some steam. Plenty of social workers work in the soup kitchen. Handing out toys to needy children and ensuring people experiencing homelessness had a hot meal. After a day like that, a bathhouse is a great place to unwind and relax. Finally, some men are just truly horny, even on Christmas day.

Lastly, the teen hustlers and straight male runaways live on the streets. They try to scrape together enough money to spend the night at the baths. Being on the streets on Christmas is entirely depressing. It’s a chance to have some normalcy for one day, an opportunity most would jump at, even if it were in a bathhouse. To have a hot shower, a warm bed, and a Christmas dinner is a welcome change from life on the streets.

The common theme for all these men is not wanting to be alone on Christmas Day. So going to a bathhouse is the only place on that day to be around other gay men. That is what the baths can sometimes be, a temporary family.

The baths are indeed a unique place to experience, especially on Christmas day. But it is only for some.

4 thoughts on “Christmas @ The Baths”

  1. Nothing pathetic about being at the baths on Christmas. i feel sorry for the poor sods who spend time with the family for sheer sense of obligation, but would rather be spending the day cruising and relaxing in the sauna.

  2. Met our third – and best – husband at the Baths on Christmas Eve 1982. A gorgeous horse-hung blond fish-fucking Adonis who, alas, broke our heart and left us bitter but wiser. Remember: Big dick means Big trouble!

  3. Far and away the most intelligent, insightful, informative and entertaining biographical account of the bathhouse scene ever published! Would love to read more from this guy, but where?

  4. I have enjoyed reading your stories thus far. My comments is about the holidays. I agree with you, but also, out of normalcy your horny from the hard work week, so I always look forward to going to the Bath’s on Christmas Eve. However, where I live, patronage has gone down 75% over the last 4 year. It use to be if you didn’t get there before 11pm you would have to wait up to 4 hours before you got a room. After 11 years I have become so bored and over the superficial guys there that I started having private sex party at my home. I have been totally blown away at the number of attractive guys physically and mentally that have come out to my parties. So, I hope to start a new tradition on the holiday, given guys another alternative for the holiday.

Leave a Reply

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