The Price of Admission
The Price of Admission

So let me ask you a question. What can $25.00 buy you right now? The novel for the next book club? Some groceries? Your weekly packs of cigarettes? For me, $25.00 is the price to rent a room for eight hours at the baths.

Regarding the baths, I have lost all perspective on how I have forfeited my money over the years. I have spent at least three times weekly at the baths for the past ten years. If you multiply the $25.00 I spend per visit by 3 (three times a week), you come up with 75 bucks – which is a lot of money for some people. But multiply that $50 by 52 weeks will average to $3,900.00 a year, which I spend going to the baths. In the ten years, I have been going to the baths; I’ve spent $39,000.00!! Who couldn’t use that type of money right now?

Most of the time, you can walk into a bathhouse without identification; some bathhouses require you to purchase a membership. In some states, bathhouses have to be listed as a “club” to operate as a gay sauna in reality. To be licensed and eligible as a “club,” membership for its patrons is required to keep operating.

Membership is okay as it may give the user a considerable discount if they make multiple visits to the baths. The bathhouse I go to has a discount for its members, which saves me a ton of money.

Initially, I did worry about how much money I was spending. After all, I could have bought a condo by now. After leaving the baths for the day, I sometimes walked down the street thinking, “I’ve spent $75.00 this week!” Then I would start going through the list of things I wanted to buy in my head. The new CD I wanted, the pair of pants I need or my lunch money for the coming week. It’s funny; I will not spend $1.50 to purchase a daily newspaper, preferring to get a free copy. But I have no qualms about forking over $25.00 for a bathhouse visit!

Some days I feel like an addict with how I’ve spent my money on this activity. It never seems to matter if I only have ten bucks to my name or a thousand 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 verges on addiction, like drinking, smoking, and even breathing. In the early days of going to the tubs, I would continuously think in the back of my mind, wondering if there was some cute guy at the baths I was missing right now. I would obsess about who might be there and what is happening – the excitement and pleasure of a sex environment you will not find anywhere else. Should I go or not? I would hem and haw, go back and forth, until finally, I trot off to the baths.

I do not have that conversation internally anymore, nor do I worry about the money I spend. I go with no hesitation. It is a routine, as you can always find me at the baths three times a week at the same time. I could be at the gym, watching movies, or even doing housework. But no, here I am for the umpteenth time, aimlessly walking up and down the hallways of a half-empty bathhouse – hoping that the next great lay is around the corner.

Now the cost of going to the baths is expensive no matter which bathhouse you frequent. $25.00 to $75.00 is a lot for some people, especially retirees, on a fixed income. Many bathhouses feature “specialty rooms” that can set you back a pretty penny. These unique spaces get priced according to what is featured. Some rooms may have a television, allowing the occupant to view porn films in privacy. 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 rooms will be much more expensive, ranging from $75.00 to $150.00 for an eight-hour stay.

That is why lockers are much more popular, as they are cheaper, about $9.00 to $12.00 for an eight-hour stay. The only problem with this option is the lack of privacy; you don’t get any. If you are tired of cruising the hallways and want privacy, there is nowhere to hide. However, the worst part about getting a locker is zero privacy to have sex if you meet a guy, and neither of you has a place to hook up.

In that situation, some guys upgrade from a locker to a room. First, you must decide whether to absorb this cost or if both parties should split the difference. If you both choose to share the price, who will get the room after having sex? What I have usually done is upgrade and absorb the cost myself. Only a few bathhouses will allow customers to switch from a locker to a room midway through their stay. Most do not allow upgrades because it is a hassle for the desk attendant to change a customer from a locker to a room. The desk attendant has to calculate the difference, check the customer out of a locker, and re-check them into a room. The customer then has to dash to their locker, grab their clothes, rush to the new room, dump their clothes, race back to the desk to return the locker key, and then run back to their room and finally have their sexual moment in the sun.

Since an upgrade is so complicated (and sex can happen faster than fast food), most guys will try to find a secluded spot in the bathhouse, like the sauna or a dark corner in the hallway. But the problem is all the other guys cruising up and down the hallways. Other patrons will find you, stand next to you and stare. Forcing the couple to say to each other, “Your place or mine?” Then leave the baths together.

However, I am not the only one spending this much money. I repeatedly see the same people at the baths in the same rooms, week after week, year after year. Those guys are spending just as much, maybe even more money than I am. So while I am distressed about the amount of money I am forking over every 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 or even more. Such as golf, circuit parties, and bar hopping, as they all cost money. Some men spend $150 taking a guy out to dinner, with no idea if this money will buy a night in bed with some hot sex or maybe even some other fun.

When you think about it, for $25.00, 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’ll be back. I’m interested in the bath house scene. You say there is one in Portland. I think I may go find it.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

  10. 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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