Sex Ed in Bed
Life is a bathhouse
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Paradise. If you do any amount of traveling sooner or later you may find yourself in a place that you would describe as paradise. Of course there are different definitions and places for different people, but whatever the setting, it’s that place where you think life couldn’t get any better. It is that place you could put down roots and live right on the spot forever.

Maybe it’s the exhibitionist in me, or maybe it’s just that I’m a sexologist, but my heavenly spots often have a sexual component, like lounging on a nude beach, or hiking to a mountain stream so far from civilization that clothes aren’t necessary. It seems logical that when in paradise (or close to it) a person would like their activities to be just as euphoric. And what better activity to reflect eternal bliss than being sexually satisfied. Maybe that’s why sex in these places seems to always be really hot and exciting.

When I am longing for such a paradise but can’t get to one, I instead occasionally pay a visit to a bathhouse. Although some gay spas are far from any semblance of paradise, I think they all have aspirations of a utopian experience.

One example is that I believe human beings ultimately want to be known by, and open to others. Shedding our attire is a practical step in that direction, and in gay spas the standard dress code is a towel or nothing at all. This is different from a sex club where most people keep their clothes on to one degree or another.

Also different from a sex club, most gay spas are places to relax, to let go of stress, and even improve one’s health and well-being. Palm Springs is particularly good at producing whole resorts of this nature that can pamper your every whim. Many gay spas employ professional masseurs as well as health and sex counselors. Some have pools, saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs. I know of a couple of bathhouses in Florida whose gyms and workout equipment would rival any of today’s cutting-edge fitness centers.

What bathhouses have in common with sex clubs is that the possibility of being sexual is ever-present, and having sex in these different environments can be as exotic as the sex itself. There’s a bathhouse in Chicago where the Jacuzzi fills an entire room with a steel catwalk over the top. Though I wasn’t sure if I was in a spa or the Poseidon Adventure, it was very exciting indeed. A former partner and I explored a bathhouse in New Orleans (I hope it’s still there) that housed the showers on the bottom level with several floors of balconies surround them. So down in this watery pit we made sweet naughty love for everyone to see. It was smokin’ hot in the Big Easy that night!

Some people believe that bathhouses are magnets for unsafe sexual activity and they’d like to see every one of them closed down. Yet, closing these places would also close prime venues that educate about, and demonstrate STD prevention. Furthermore, if these sexual venues were to close, men would retreat to the privacy of their bedrooms where the opportunity to educate is greatly minimized. Honestly, you can’t enter a gay spa without being bombarded with sexually responsible education. After all, these establishments have a vested interest in keeping their cliental healthy. In fact, I can’t think of any other place that promotes healthy sexuality more comprehensively than a bathhouse. Of course there are men who have unprotected sex in these places. But that’s a result of irresponsible choices, and unfortunately these kinds of choices occur everywhere.

Bathhouses can create a kind of community — a place of safety, expression and belonging. There’s a bathhouse in Northern California where the lounge area is more like a warm and inviting living room. Some spas have BarBQs on the weekend, and even Sunday brunch. In Europe (don’t get me started on how great those spas are — they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years) a few bathhouses are integrated right into the communities around them with bars that at one end, serve drinks to the guys in the spa, and at the other end, they serve people that walk in right off the street.

I wonder, with open and honest education, the chance to relax, a sense of community and positive sexuality, can life get any better than in a bathhouse? Come to think of it, I believe this question is reminiscent of the definition I used at the beginning to describe paradise.

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