My friend Calvin gave me the moniker “Bathhouse Betty” mocking the number of times I have visited my local bathhouse. We actually had a huge falling out once as he described in great detail the statue that should be erected in the lobby with me wearing only boxer briefs, tube socks, and a headband, bent over on all fours positioned in such a way that all of the patrons would have to mount me in order to gain entryway to the rest of the facilities. At the time, I took grave offense to the whole ordeal considering the fact I had not patronized the joint in years at that point and even if I did he would still hands-down win the “number of men slept with” contest so I was just appalled by the whole slut-shaming concept.
Fast forward a couple of years, Calvin has since passed away, and my sexuality has been shuffled to the back of my consciousness while I dealt with some real-life issues that all funneled down to my personal financial affairs that have left me teetering very close to complete and utter oblivion. I’m happy to report that while I’m not where I want to be, through hard work, diligence and prayer; pressure has returned to that cabin. And with that, I suddenly look around and find myself with an almost vampiric hunger for human companionship. My last relationship infiltrated all my systems like a cancer and for years now I have been going through spiritual chemotherapy trying to kill all of that negative energy from my heart logic, from my head logic, from my spiritual reasoning, from my sexual prowess; that little afroed psychopath got all up in me and it’s taken this long to clean him out of my blood. During all that time, I would reason that only a “masochist” would put themselves out there like that again. Nowadays, I think it would be more of an “adventurer” who would. Though I am sure there is some overlap between the two.
My last relationship infiltrated all my systems like a cancer and for years now I have been going through spiritual chemotherapy trying to kill all of that negative energy
So Bathhouse Betty made a return this year, touring all of Los Angeles’ hot spots. Older, pudgier, arthritic, but none the worse for wear, I have squeezed my size 7XL overalls into every bathhouse, glory hole, sexy party and porn shop that had a big enough bed, ledge or chair that wouldn’t break under my weight. I remember telling my friend Lei that, during the course of this year, I made the realization that I’m a bottom to wit he spit out his tea and choked out, “You just figured this out NOW?” I rolled my eyes and replied, “This is why I don’t like to talk about it. Faggots get all sassy and are delighted at the thought that someone is as big of a sissy as they are.” There is a whole other conversation that needs to be had regarding Top/Bottom politics but needless to say, I am the “Bottom Whisper.” No matter what I do, and I assume it has something to do with my size, my beard and my voice, I tend to attract all bottoms within a twenty-five-mile radius. It might have something to do with pheromones like, I think my spleen produces a substance that engorges every “Mangina” within my vicinity. Which is cool with me. And I have partaken in many a "Top" activity, but Papa needs some D thrown back at him sometimes. Engorge my “Beargina” if you will, it needs some lovin’ too.
Now tonight, with a surplus of funds that were hard-earned from my many cabin pressure sustaining jobs, I decided to make one last end of the year tour of the bathhouse. My last couple of ventures were nothing short of spiritual movements. If there were a theme song for this particular aspect of my story, it would be Erykah Badu’s “Kiss Me On My Neck.” I need somebody to walk up behind me and kiss me on my neck. Breathe on my neck. I want somebody to walk up behind me and kiss me on my neck. Breathe on my neck. IT’S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME, I FORGOT THAT I WAS FINE. SO KISS ME ON MY NECK. BREATHE. FUCKING BREATHE. NIGGA. ON MY NECK. GODDAMN, THAT SHIT FEEL GOOD!
But I digress.
Still suffering from a sense of Homeless Adjacent PTSD, I had a close watch on the buttload of money I recently acquired. I had a feeling the night itself was going to be a bit expensive, but I was just going to keep a very watchful eye on my expenditures. I easily imagined myself sliding from bathhouse to bar to Vegas to hotel and back to oblivion. The soundtrack to that would be “Nowadays” from the Chicago soundtrack. There’s men everywhere. Jazz everywhere. Booze Everywhere. Life everywhere. Joy everywhere, nowadays. Then I wake up under a vomit and pissed stained blanket on Skid Row.
But I digress.
FIRST STOP: CVS FOR SOME ESSENTIALS
I wanted to go to Pleasure Chest, but it seemed so far away so I decided the local CVS would be fine. My condom collection was getting a little crunchy, so I decided to pick up some fresh ones and some off-brand lube. I decided to pick up some Red Bull too just for a quick pick me up. I was so astounded by the price that I took a picture of the receipt and posted it on my social media profiles with the caption, “I would almost think it’s cheaper to get an STD but I have close friends with STDs so I guess I’ll just pay this exorbitant amount of money.” To wit friends who are a part of HIV/AIDS Advocacy Organizations got themselves in a tizzy around the idea of me actually paying for condoms when they give them out like candy at the clinic and urged my friends to come in and get tested. Honey, they’ve had the butt flu for a really long time, they’ve got it covered. And if I didn’t have time to go to Pleasure Chest, I didn’t have time to go to the clinic, and aren’t you happy that I made the decision to actually just go ahead and pay for condoms and not just raw dog it? Thank you very much. Then other people actually zoomed in on the receipt to see that I purchased Extra Large Magnum condoms and were duly impressed by my illusionary monster horse cock. I’m not saying that I don’t have a monster horse cock, but what I am saying is that… I’m... gay… so… there’s ANOTHER dude involved who might need an Extra Large Magnum condom. But by all means, feel free to spread THAT rumor.
TOTAL COST: $39
NEXT STOP: THE BATHHOUSE
Fun fact. Los Angeles’ premier bathhouse is located right on the edge of skid row. To avoid bumping into alter-Universe Breeze waking up from under his vomit and piss stained blanket scoring some crack, I decided to take the 5 freeway to the 10 which avoids the whole dystopia altogether. My membership elapsed so I had to buy a new one. Along with the room itself. And the use of their parking lot. The cashier had an attitude. He totaled the bill and spoke with a tone the expressed that I did not have that much money. Well… I slid over my sleek black CashApp debit card to show him. It was declined. As was my Venmo debit card. And the PayPal debit card. But when I showed him my Wells Fargo card and it got declined I just paid cash. I walked through that door with dignity and pride.
I was inserting myself into some random older Chulo with way too many tattoos, I kept fantasizing about beef brisket and Barbeque ribs.
TOTAL COST: $42
I settled into my room and made some money transfers on my tablet to make sure I had some liquid cash available for any other expenditures that might befall the evening. And while online, I caught a glimpse of an event going on this evening; a holiday dinner with the organization BearsLA. Well, I was totally devoted to some hardcore porn-like activities that would find me pounding and being pounded way into the midnight hour. But somewhere around 6:30 p.m. while I was inserting myself into some random older Chulo with way too many tattoos, I kept fantasizing about beef brisket and Barbeque ribs. By the time 7:00 p.m. came around, I was in the communal area with some fat white dude on one tit, this old skinny fully clothed Rastafarian on the other tit trying to finger fuck me and some light-skinned bearded dude of indeterminate ethnicity giving me head. I wondered if they had pasta.
NEXT STOP: DINNER WITH BEARSLA
I won’t give the actual name of the restaurant, but I will say this, of the many ranches available in the grove, I wouldn’t choose the Wood one (wink, wink)
The group was scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m., so when I rushed through the doors at 8:00 p.m., I was expecting to be fashionably late with a refreshed blush of someone who, while trying to fake an orgasm so he could have dinner while having three different dudes suck on him at the same time, actually wound up having multiple orgasms in front of a dozen or so people. I sauntered through that door as if that place was Minneapolis and I was Mary Tyler Moore ready to throw my hat in the air! I looked to the left and there were just two hungry bears and Gabriel, the president of BearsLA in all his dimpled glory. Turns out he reserved the place for 20 people and WE were ALL that showed up. They were not going to seat us until at least six more people showed up in our party. We all chatted for a while, one more person showed up, we decided to just get a smaller booth. That is until another member of BearsLa came over and said he just saw us waiting by the door. Turns out another fifteen or so people (!!) actually showed up prior and the Maître d'hôtel on staff didn’t take them to the reserved BearsLA area, but just sat them at individual booths throughout the restaurant(!!!) The manager came and refused to reseat the bears that were already there and said he could only offer us a both near them.
The temperature in L.A. has been awfully chilly lately, it’s nothing compared to the gratuity of pissed off Bears.
If a Worldstar HipHop moment happened and chairs were thrown and/or a big food fight happened, I would not have been mad. But Gabriel and all of his dimpled handsomeness did his best Michelle Obama impression, took the high road and made the best of a pretty shitty situation. I for one had a blast, met some really cool people, had some really awesome conversations and learned a lot about preparing to enter a Bear and/or Leather contest over overpriced mediocre brisket (they were out of rib tips), pretty hard macaroni and cheese and questionable service. At one point, Gabriel and I were exchanging “scar” stories, his physical, mine emotional. I’ve never seen his. He’s never seen mine. I imagined us as little kids by a creek and I go, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” He takes off his shirt. I pull out my heart. We both say, “It doesn’t look that bad.” This part is “All My Days” by Alexi Murdoch. You can look that one up yourself.
Afterward, we all said our pleasantries. After the majority of people left, I reminded everybody that we didn’t have the obligatory We’re-In-A-Group-Setting-And-Having-So-Much-Fun-So-Let’s-Take-A-Picture-And-Post-On-Instagram moment. To wit, Gabriel said, “you know we still can!” And we did. Oh, Gabriel…
They didn’t validate my parking because I parked in a structure that wasn’t theirs. I would have haggled with them about that, but I remembered that while the bill of our individual booth was three figures, the tip left was in the single digits. The temperature in L.A. has been awfully chilly lately, it’s nothing compared to the gratuity of pissed off Bears.
I wound up having to get a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop in order for them to validate my parking, and even that only took off part of the fee. So, with coffee, I still wound up paying $10 for parking. So, with parking and the food…
Total Price: $46
Which actually adds up to $127. So I guess this should have been called the $127 night. This is an example of why I found myself in such dire straits at one time; my budgeting, adding, and finance skills are FUCKED. But I do want to say that what I have left… is over four figures. So, while it’s a lot to spend on one night, it wasn’t done without acknowledgment of a bigger picture and I had an absolute blast.
I miss Calvin every day. There has not been a day that I have not thought about him and talked to him and wondered what he would do if he were here. He would call me a whore and joke about me flopping around like a fish out of water in front of a dozen people. He would berate me about leaving such a small tip. He for sure would mock my insistence that I am the “Miranda” or even “Carrie” character from Sex and the City insisting that I always have and always will be “Samantha.” Fuck you Calvin. I miss you every day. I wish you here to help me live my best life. It cost fucking $127 today. Worth every penny. Rest in heaven old friend. Love, Bathhouse Betty.