It was the Sunday after a particularly taxing series of late nights, and mine was one of a dozen slick, flushed bodies hunched over and dripping heavy licks of sweat onto the steaming wood slats of the Russian Room. The furnace was raging heat throughout the 8x20ft room, and it was approaching degrees. Spoiler alert: this was not the case -- probably because we live in New York, not in a cartoon. Spa Castle horror stories muddying the local bathhouse industry be damned.
Inside the Russian & Turkish Baths, the East Village's Best Worst-Kept Secret
It was advertised as reminiscent of "the glory of ancient Rome". The features of this bathhouse included a small disco dance floor, a cabaret lounge with a baby grand piano, both only feet from a narrow "Olympia blue" swimming pool, sauna rooms, bunk beds in public areas, and tiny rooms as one would find in any gay bathhouse. The facility had the capacity to serve nearly 1, men, 24 hours a day. One gay guide from the s described the Continental Baths as a place that "revolutionized the bath scene in New York City. Some features of the Continental Bathhouse included a warning system that tipped off patrons when police arrived.
Lately I have been charting my progress or lack thereof in my attempts to rejoin gay society. In what is becoming an increasingly difficult exercise, I found that I have been beating around the proverbial bush for too long. I knew I had to up the ante.