Join the “Club” nYc 1971 – 1983

Back in the gays in the early 1970′s New York City had it’s share of bathhouses but there always seemed like there was room for more. In 1971 Club Body centers brought their chain into NYC when they purchased a townhouse at 24 First Avenue in Manhattan.

The bathhouse was featured in a 1974 film called “A Very Natural Thing”. The baths offered lockers or rooms on the upper floors and a large orgy room on the top floor. They offered two steam baths ( Hot and Hotter), a hot tub and showers. On the first floor there was a comfortable lounge with an ample TV and shag rug (for shagging). The baths also offered a glassed in winter garden with lush greenery and faux bird calls.

In the 1970′s the Club baths were managed by Bob Kohler ( 1926- 2007) an early activist and former owner the Loft store on Christopher Street. In 1975  a famous Lesbian writer Rita Mae Brown donned man-drag and  accessed the male only bath. She wandered the halls for three and a half  hours and made observations of the place. Upon leaving she was quoted as saying that she felt like she had stowed away on the Queen Mary.

The Club Baths closed 1983 as the city was beginning to react from the fourth coming crisis. The former baths is now home to LGBT Drag restaurant Lucky Cheng’s.

Here are some photographs Courtesy of outhistory.org Thank you

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One Response to “Join the “Club” nYc 1971 – 1983”

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  1. Macedonia says:

    It should also be remembered that on the first floor were vending machines and I think two tables with chairs, I think built into the floor like picknick tables. On Friday and Saturday nights several groups of “friends” who take over this or that table for an hour or longer. It was the only chance for a lot of under 30 gays to socialize in the 70s outside of bars. The “baths” of the the 70s and 80s were not just sex places, even disregarding the nightclub/restaurant “Continental” in the Ansonia Hotel. St. Marks Baths was pure sex, as was the Everhard in the main, but The Club really was a “Club” for gays, especially under 25 who were still living in at home in the 70s.

    One of the sad things for those of us, now in the 60s, who remember New York before AIDS, skyhigh prices for rentals let alone buying apartments or houses in not only Manhattan, the Miami Metropolitian Area, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and drinking legally not at 21 but at 18 and without ID, is that in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, people of different ages from 16 to 70 were all around everywhere. Today, much more than before, bars, discos, nightclubs, restaurants are usually very much older than 50, or if there is a younger crowd, it is minority of one kind or another and poor. The internet has completed what started with expensive housing, loss of low income white collar jobs in the cities where gays used to have “neighborhoods”, a segregating of gays by age and income. The Club Baths really was a free-wheeling, friendly place separate and apart from the best sex in the city.

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