So gay (not LGBT!) bathhouses are rebranding and becoming cool again. Check out Frank Melleno's (Work Unfriendly) Polaroids from The Fairoaks Hotel bathhouse in San Francisco 1978 to get an idea of what most people think of when they think of bathhouses.
According to Hawpost:
At its prime, bathhouses were cool because of their popularity among gay, bi and closeted men. There used to be somewhat of a beauty competition on who was allowed to enter these establishments. Sort of like the lines at the hottest nightclub in town where bouncers let in the most gorgeous and stunning people as others get left behind. The 75 year-old president of the North American Bathhouse Association also known as NABA, Dennis Holding recalls his experience of this in the 1970s:
“There was a club in LA called The 8709. It was on the second floor. In its day, there would be a line down the stairs to the street, and you’d wait and you’d climb all the way up, and if the attendant didn’t like your looks he wouldn’t let you in. I got rejected there once, but I got let in three or four times, and I remember the process quite well. But if they thought you weren’t attractive enough they wouldn’t let you in.”
At the height of their success, there were about 700 bathhouses operating throughout the country in the late 1980s. Today that number is down to a merely 60 in operation!
“The acceptance of gays has changed the whole world,” Dennis Holding, who owns a small bathhouse in Miami told the AP. “It’s taken away the need to sneak around places like these and today, you can go to the supermarket, launch your Grindr app and hook-up.”
Yes technology and social media have changed the rules of the game but technology will never be able to replace the safe and comfortable environment that the baths have to offer. At least not yet. Although Grindr can connect you with guys you MIGHT think look like their profile pictures, it doesn’t give you an easy option to walk away once you meet the guy for the first time.
I've actually never been inside a bathhouse. Am I missing out?