So, here’s the thing, there’s only one gay sauna left in New York. The big apple has a complicated history regarding bathhouses, dating back to the HIV epidemic of the late 80's/early 90’s. The bathhouses were vilified as being virus spreaders and despite the efforts to prove that in fact, they were a force for good to educate the gay populace, they were ultimately almost all closed down. Sadly, shame won out and its lingering legacy meant the majority of gay saunas and bathhouses never reopened. Only two remained: the East Side and West Side Club. The latter closed during the pandemic and the former does not have the best reputation to say the least.
However, alternatives do exist for those looking for some no-strings attached fun within the city:
East Side Club
If nothing but a gay sauna will do, then there is but one option: The East Side Club. The bathhouse gets a bad rap, rightly or wrongly. It certainly does not hold a towel to the options usually found in cities the size of New York in terms of facilities, cleanliness, action, and customer service – just check out the reviews online for further evidence of this. One thing that can be said for it, however, is that as the only gay bathhouse in New York it does tend to draw in the tourists, so you’re likely to find at least something you like perusing its seemingly endless corridors. Those in the know though, tend to avoid it in favor of the options below. If you’re daring, go and decide for yourself.
Provided you are willing to trade a towel for a harness, this legendary bar is THE place to get some in New York. The Eagle is ostensibly about leather, but really anyone with a kinky bone in their body – or anyone hoping to get a kinky bone in their body – is welcome. It is most popular with bears and older guys, who make up the majority of the clientele.
The Eagle is an institution, having been open since 1970 in wake of the Stonewall Riots and has been the gathering place of hot men since then. The building was – perhaps aptly – originally a horse stable and now has a sleazy, yet welcoming, vibe. There’s porn playing in the background and often DJs to lighten the mood. No matter what your kink though, you’ll find a place – or a person with which – to express it in The Eagle.
It’s not all about sex, sex…sex though. The roof terrace is a great place to chill out and enjoy some good gay company – especially in the summer. At the back you’ll also find a pool table all the better to challenge a leather daddy to a game at. The Eagle also runs events ranging from jockstrap Wednesday to cigar nights to their (in)famous Mr. Eagle competition.
The Cock – in East Side New York – ramps it up a notch with raunchy fun, despite the signs behind the bar clearly stating, “no sexual activity of any kind”. It is one of the few places in New York that has both a bar and a darkroom (only open on the weekends). The no-sexual activity is of course limited to the bar, not the darkroom – a large but dark and dank two floor basement area – and it is relatively easy to hook-up there with like minded men if you can fumble your way through the dark. Back up at the bar there’s both DJs and go-go boys to enjoy. The place fills on the weekends and the vibe is dirty and dingy in all the right ways, being a self-proclaimed “rock and sleaze fag bar”. Worth noting that rather randomly the bar is cash only and there’s an entry fee to bear in mind.
The Sex Parties
General Sex Party Advice
Perhaps the best alternatives to gay bathhouses are the famous sex parties of New York. However, they aren’t as easy to locate and require a little effort on your part. This can be anything as simple as joining a mailing list to learn a location, to having to fill out an entire application with photos and references – like you’re applying for a full-time job – so choose wisely. Privacy is of the utmost importance no matter which you go to, so expect to have to check in electronic devices with your bags on entrance. Physical cash is required for entrance fees or anything else they might be selling, but remember these parties really are about the sex and as such alcohol is usually prohibited, as are drugs. Dress codes vary but you can never go wrong with being naked if you’re unsure. Also, prep before going as the facilities available vary and are unlikely to include either showers or douching stations.
Here are a few of the best:
MaleBox Sex Parties: New York Jock Party, Scum and More…
MaleBox are the more exclusive option if you want to put some work in and really feel part of an underground world. To start with you must go to their website and fill out an application form – with face and body pictures – in order to receive the unsubtly named “fit pass”. If approved, you will then receive invites to such infamous events as the New York Jock Party and Scum, at which sex is all but a given. Getting an invite is a lot of work and they’re very focused on filtering out any but toned and muscular guys. Still, if that’s your scene, you should give it a try for the experience if nothing else.
Blow Buddies NYC
The name makes it pretty clear what’s on the menu at this oral sex party. Blow Buddies NYC takes place in Midtown Manhattan every Thursday and Sunday evening at an undisclosed location, until you join their mailing list. This time however, no application is required, and the location is freely given to those expressing an interest. There’s a 30$ entry fee and they welcome all shapes and sizes – yes that type of shapes and sizes – with a no-discrimination policy and very few rules except being clean, respectful, and only partaking in oral.
The Bear Party
Run by the same company as Blow Buddies NYC, again the name gives it away – it’s a party primarily for bears. Although, they make it clear any are welcome be you a bear, an otter, chubby or a “chaser” of any of the above. They have two locations you can learn by joining their mailing list and they hold parties three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Bears by their nature tend to be a kinkier bunch, so fetish gear is just as welcome as underwear or being naked. As an additional rule they advise against wearing strong colognes because of the raw manly vibes they wish to cultivate. Besides Blow Buddies they also run four other events: The Chub Chaser Party for the bigger guys and their admirers, Workman’s Lunch for those who work and wish to enjoy a midday work break “snack”, Later Thursday for the pre-party crowd and Manhole a fisting party. All of which can be learnt about through their respective websites.
Big Party Options
New York might not have fixed sex clubs per se, but it has a lot of monthly Circuit parties – and let's face it, wherever you have half naked men dancing, you’ll find sex. Meat is the sexiest of these parties where – to quote them – ‘you can unleash your deepest, dirtiest desires’. Whatever that may mean for you, Meat provides a massive play area to find some meat directly off the bone. Besides this, expect the usual hot sweaty topless men dancing to big international DJs below stages with go-go boys. Most go there to party with the subsidiary goal of getting some action, but these are two goals that need not be mutually exclusive.
The leather daddy of all circuit parties, however, is Black Party – dating back to 1981. It is unfortunately only held once a year in Spring, but should you be lucky enough to be booking your trip to New York around it, you’ll find a party which celebrates wall-to-wall sex in a way that would make even Berliners blush. Black Party is run by The Saint At Large – a huge event running company and boutique online shop – and is one of the biggest gay parties in the world with all the international DJs and large stages that entails. It also has bizarre sexy themes such as barnyard and outer space, with erotic live performances that range from hardcore bondage to a live performance with a boa constrictor – no, an actual boa constrictor. Not to mention the well-equipped play areas – full of slings, glory holes and anything else you might need – make up about half the club and are the place to go if you really want to lose yourself in the darker – yet undeniably sexier – side of the city that never sleeps.
Featured image credit: BoyBerry