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SEX VENUES BITE THE DUST...


Tom Isern
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For the past several years I’ve had the privilege of working with a few dominatrixes in a bdsm dungeon here in the New York. I’ve learned a lot from watching these remarkable women in action. I hadn’t heard from them in the past several months, so today I gave the dungeon a call. Business is down, it seems, because the police are harassing and raiding the dungeons, calling up and posing as customers, etc. The police and the health department have closed two of the dungeons down in the past several months. To make matters worse, the NY Post has swooped down and photographed owners and taken names and put it all out on Page Six.

 

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04262008/news/regionalnews/palace_of_pain_spanked_108135.htm

 

The surviving dungeons have responded by refusing any clients who want male/male action (those customers, I was told, are more likely looking for sex) and by insisting that all customers know that the bdsm scenes are STRICTLY non-sexual. Roleplay is forbidden. Dildos and anything remotely resembling a sexual apparatus are strictly forbidden as well.

 

This all, of course, fits the larger pattern. Over the past several decades ALL of the New York sex establishments have been shut down—as far as I know, for instance, there is not ONE SINGLE back room in any bar in New York City. (If anyone can correct me, I would welcome the news!) There are no remaining sex clubs of any kind. Two bathhouses remain in Manhattan, and they fucking suck—dark dirty holes where you have two options: walk around cruising or get in a cubicle. The steam room and sauna are locked shut. It's suprising the showers still work! Even the steam room in my gym is closed thanks to the health department. Sex, you see, belongs domesticated. In the home. Behind closed doors.

 

Now in the 70s the gay community would have raised holy hell if the city were behaving like this. Today? Well, we know where all the money and power of the “gay community” is being focused: On those who want to shackle up in tidy little nuclear families just like the straight people and adopt heterosexual norms and values. And fighting for sexual freedoms—perish the thought. Those sickos practicing bdsm and leather and those freaks who want to have sex in the Rambles or on the piers or in the park or in the back of a taxi cab or do it FOR MONEY—well, they deserve to get arrested. And locked up! Marriage and progress and RESPECTABILITY are on the roll! (And shame on anyone who doesn't get on the bus!)

 

Now before everyone piles on me and accuses me of running around the city out of control, know this: I no longer frequent public sex places. That was something I did my first 2 years in the city, when everything was new, when I was a kid in a candy shop. I’m not at all ashamed of it, those were fun and magical years. And young kids new to the city today deserve those same kind of freedoms, I believe. New York aught to be a different kind of place from Minneapolis! Not every city in America needs to be made safe for the teenieboppers from New Jersey.

 

But then, young kids probably won’t want sexual freedoms, or need them. They’ll grow up happy in the norms of their parents and move directly from the married home of their parents to their own happy little married home in the suburbs with their two-car garage and their consumer lifestyle and their bourgeois and heteronormative values. They'll have “NEW VALUES”—Gay Marriage. And expensive utility bills! SMELL the progress!

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But in Indianapolis . . . RE: SEX VENUES BITE THE DUST...

 

Tom, I feel your pain.

 

It's ironic that while New York was once one a center of the sexual revolution, it has less sexual freedom than, say, Indianapolis. (At least in terms of sex clubs.) We have two baths, the Club Indianapolis and The Works, each of which have active and often uninhibited steam rooms. And we even have a strip joint, the Unicorn Club, where lap dances can still be had for $1 (and in a dark corner and tip the right guy $20 or $30 and you'll get quite a dance).

 

The world has changed a lot since I was a student in NY in the mid-70s. It's mind boggling. If anyone had told me then that gay rights would be about marriage and not about sexual freedom I would have thought they were crazy.

 

I'm 100% for marriage rights. But I find it hard to fathom that there's no bathhouse sex to be had in NYC, and no organized voice for that sort of sexual freedom.

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But in NYC we still have....

 

But at least we still have the NY Bondage Club, which after much migration has found a place to meet... But, Tom, you would be disappointed because there rules there are NO SEX other than jerking guys off - no insertion, no sucking.... just lots of bondage and SM.

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RE: But in NYC we still have....

 

Thanks a lot guys. After the bitter tongue-lashings I've been taking for questioning the obviousness of the gay marriage=progress proposition, I really appreciate the supportive words.

 

When I moved to NYC, it was in large part to be a part of the queer/alternative/radical nightlife that permeated every block and corner or the city. While a boyfriend and a graduate degree program and the pressures of economic life have moved me out of that phase, I find it very sad that New York is virtually a deadzone on the radar of sexual fun. Where will young people, looking for fun and frolic, go to escape the tedium of the Midwest? Berlin is, I hear, the center of it all now. (And there, EVERYONE gets healthcare irrespective of marital or economic or professional affiliation status--imagine that!?!?!)

 

And the relationship with gay marriage is obvious. Our political leaders can't be seen supporting drag queens and leather men and bdsm dungeons and back rooms and bathhouses and transexuals and the confused bisexuals and sex in subway bathrooms and all those "freaks" when they are on their knees begging for respectability, a seat on the straight-to-straight bus, a "place at the table." It makes me very sad.

 

I'm happy for those who think their freedoms are expanding. I'm just not at all sure they actually are. ;(

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Guest Wetnwildbear

I agree that cities - especially NYC, need some GRIT and a sexual

 

underbelly. Though I don't frequent sex clubs I'd like to know

 

that they can and do exist should the urge raise its head again.

 

 

By the same token, I believe that thier is room in the Gay Community

 

for those who seek to protect thier relationships with the legal

 

protection that Civil Marriage affords.

 

 

Regardless of the rantings of the Religious-NeoCon-Neo-Fascist Right-

 

Wing- Biggoty-Babbity-Bastards;

 

Marriage is a Civil Contract which confers property,inheritance

 

custodial, taxation, pension, etc., rights and privlieges.

 

 

I'd be just as happy with the Legalization of Civil Unions for

 

either same or opposite gender couples - as long as the rights

 

and responsibilities conferred were identical to those conferred

 

upon married opposite gender couples.

 

 

 

I am horrified by government (local,state and Fed)

 

wasting time and resources on things like prostitution, sex clubs,

 

baseball - steroids, pornography and now horse-racing, while there

 

are REAL problems to be solved.

 

 

So lets Keep America SAFE for Bathhouses, BondageBoys, ButtPlugs,

 

Porn, PissPigs, Prostitutes, Slings and Sleaze as well as Same Gender

 

Couples who want to live in committed monogamous relationships with

 

the full LEGAL rights afforded to every other American Couple.

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Guest zipperzone

RE: But in NYC we still have....

 

>Our

>political leaders can't be seen supporting drag queens and

>leather men and bdsm dungeons and back rooms and bathhouses

>and transexuals and the confused bisexuals and sex in subway

>bathrooms and all those "freaks" when they are on

>their knees begging for respectability,

 

I suppose that it never occured to you that these same "political leaders" also consider you and your occupation to qualify as one of the "freaks" - your word, not mine.

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RE: But in NYC we still have....

 

Thanks, Zipperzone, you are right! Escorts are among the freaks. Who will dare suggest that our business aught to be legal—which of course it should be—when we are on our knees begging for respectability and the privilege to marry. The "gay rights" movement has become desperate for social approval to reach that marital goal, and in the process, standing up for sexual freedoms has been, is, and will continue to be out of fashion. And those of us who do stand up for sexual freedoms will be shamed and put down for it. We’ll be told over and over again to get on the “proper” bus of progress.

 

The sad truth is that marriage—legally, socially, normatively—has always been, is today, and will continue to be a sexuality control apparatus. And the norms that come with it—not just monogamy—but also the idea that sex belongs in private, between sheets, behind closed doors, between two people, and a whole host of other norms as well—those norms will be brought right along with it into our community and set up as what marks “respectable” people from us “shameful” types. And I find it frankly horrifying that everyone seems to ASSUME that this is the obvious and only next step in the progress of our movement!

 

We have chosen a path as likely to lead to the destruction of our sexual freedoms (it already is) as it is to greater freedom.

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I'll certainly agree that life in NYC is less interesting now without some venues for "safe" anonymous sex - that is, safe in the sense that they are sexual spaces in which everyone is basically there for the same reason and you don't have to worry about bashers, etc. I enjoyed the occasional trip down to El Mirage, for example -- it was just liberating to walk around the place naked and occasionally get into a hot scene... Really miss that.... ;(

 

And back in the day when I first came to NYC, I just loved to take an occasional trip to "Man's Country" or the "Club Baths" or the "St. Marks" - although some of my favorite times were in that club in the basement of the Ansonia on the upper West Side with that big very heated swimming pool.... I had some wonderful times splashing around in the pool playing with other guys - it was playful and fun and we were slipping and sliding around each other and there was lots of chlorine in the water so you didn't want to swallow it but at the same time anything nefarious was getting bleached out... And the old East Side Sauna (I think that may actually still be there) was so terrific in the old days.... Ah, memories.

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Despite its lurid reputation as Sin City, New York has a long history of cycling between "anything goes" and puritanical repression, and back again. In my lifetime, I've observed this complete oscillation about every twenty years. In the mid-1960s, for instance, gay sexual activity was much more rigorously repressed in New York than in Philadelphia, despite the dowdy reputation of the latter city (the Philly bars were packed with New Yorkers on the weekends). The wild excesses of NY in the 70s--ah!memories!--were followed by the AIDS panic of the 80s, when all my favorite venues were shuttered, then the opening up again of gay life in the 90s, and now the wheel seems to be turning again. The causes and the shapes the new order takes seem to be different, but the underlying pattern remains roughly the same. It makes me suspect some sort of underlying generational dialectic, but that's too fuzzy to tempt me into serious analytical pursuit.

 

Tom, to put it in literary terms which I'm sure you will understand, you are a Byronic rebel, about to be drowned in the incoming tide of Victorian respectability. I feel your pain--seriously, I do: we need Byron as much as Wordsworth.

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Guest verymarried

Tom, or others: Can you tell me the current status of sex in Central Park, in terms of activity, law enforcement, and safety; and, if the answers are high, low and high, I wonder if there are escorts on this site who might be persuaded to spend a little time there, if the customer checks out okay.

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zip..I have NO USE for the man..But realistically Blame It on HIV-AIDS and all the STD's that now are still going around!

 

Public Places always attract the "I have it So Why not you" types!

 

Give the Public what they want..and they have been known to "Fuck It Up"!

 

IMHO of course as always! ;-)

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An Easy Solution to the NYC Dungeon Dilemma.

 

Tom… I think there is an easy solution to the NYC dungeon dilemma. Set up one of your own… Hopefully you have a spare room… and even if not you can always give one of the other rooms a dungeon motif. For example, a Saint Andrew’s cross would not only make a nice focal point for a dungeon, but also could be the central ornamental element in a well decorated living room. Likewise, a bedroom could also be the subject of such an interior design makeover. Furthermore, if a number of dungeons have been closed down of late there must be a certain number of "fixtures" that could be found at flea markets and tag sales… or possibly the NYPD might be auctioning off what they don’t want to keep for their own use…

 

Give it some thought… for if as you relate that the present mindset states that, “Sex… belongs domesticated. In the home. Behind closed doors”, then follow the wave of the future. This would be the perfect solution for a “Byronic hero” such as you. So end your brooding melancholy and turn your rebelliousness into action and go for it…

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>Now in the 70s the gay community would have raised holy hell

>if the city were behaving like this.

 

That's not what I've heard and read. When the city closed the Anvil, Mineshaft, Gloryhole, St. Marks Baths, etc. in the early-mid 80's, there was no "holy hell raising." And nobody was talking about gay marriage, either.

 

Today? Well, we know

>where all the money and power of the “gay community” is being

>focused: On those who want to shackle up in tidy little

>nuclear families just like the straight people and adopt

>heterosexual norms and values.

 

I guess you have a point that the fight for marriage equality has had some effect on the sex clubs being shut down. Oh, wait, in California they still have all the sex clubs plus now they have legalized marriage. Oops...not such a strong argument after all. :p

 

>But then, young kids probably won’t want sexual freedoms, or

>need them. They’ll grow up happy in the norms of their

>parents and move directly from the married home of their

>parents to their own happy little married home in the suburbs

>with their two-car garage and their consumer lifestyle and

>their bourgeois and heteronormative values.

 

So, gay people should only live in rented apartments in cities? If they want to live in rural or suburban areas and own property, it's somehow selling out? Why stop there? Shouldn't we also quarantine them on their own little island somewhere so they don't spread their evil gay disease, too?

 

Btw, when you deride the "consumer lifestyle," does that mean that you don't purchase anything? You churn your own butter, raise and slaughter your own livestock, sew your own clothes, build your own computer and cell phone, manufacture your own lube and condoms (oops, condoms are only for straight people to avoid pregnancy, right?)...? Or do you perhaps think that, just maybe, this consumer lifestyle of which you speak has nothing to do with sexual orientation?

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RE: But in NYC we still have....

 

>Thanks a lot guys. After the bitter tongue-lashings I've

>been taking for questioning the obviousness of the gay

>marriage=progress proposition, I really appreciate the

>supportive words.

 

Where are all the bitter tongue-lashings? Everyone has responded to your posts respectfully and even when disagreeing with you, they've all agreed that it's worthy of debate. Sounds like you're being a bit thin-skinned and don't like it when everyone doesn't agree with you. It's a bit hypocritical, too, when your many posts on this subject have been quite derisive and condescending toward those of us who want to get married.

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But in Indianapolis . . . RE: SEX VENUES BITE THE DUST...

 

Hey Brian,

It is my suspicion—only a hunch—that the further you are away from the centers of gay power (like NYC and San Francisco—another place where public sex is dead) the more you’re going to have sexual freedom these days. Conservative places like Indiana can, ironically, be freer spaces because the gay community isn’t as busy pushing for marriage and feeling the need to be all so respectable. They are less self-policing. That’s just my hunch. On the other hand, Puritanism seems as alive on the Left as it is on the Right these days.

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Hey Charlie, don’t be so hard on Wordsworth.

 

Love, now an universal birth,

From heart to heart is stealing,

From earth to man, from man to earth,

—It is the hour of feeling.

 

That’s an attractive Romantic erotics. Imagine, for contrast, your life trapped inside “Villette” or “Jane Eyre.” There’s our future in the world of gay marriage, coming to drown us all—not just me—in Victorian respectability.

 

Always good to hear your voice.

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Verymarried,

 

I'm afraid I can't tell you much about activity in Central Park these days. The last time I was there was several years ago and I found the Rambles infested with yuppies and baby strollers. I suspect that is still the case. The park is probably safe enough to sleep in--just don't touch your private parts or you'll end up in jail. Serious.

 

The Giuliani administration--friendly to gay couples and gay marriage but hostile as fuck to fun--wanted to install motion detectors in the park so they could detect, find, and arrest people at night for merely being there! Just the way they arrested people for sitting, walking, or breathing during the Republican convention several years ago.

 

That's how pathetic things have become in the "city that never sleeps." If you want sexual fun, you'd better find it between the sheets of your hotel room or visit another country. I'd suggest Berlin, Paris, Prague...just about any place in Europe is bound to be less repressed than here. I've even come to understand that Vienna has become fun (go figure!).

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