The Golden Age of Gay Sex
A columnist for the South Florida Gay News, probably around my age, recently reminisced about the days when the only infections gay boys had to worry about were syphilis and gonorrhea. Those were days I look back on fondly today as the Golden Age of Gay Sex, when getting it – sex I mean – was easy and real. Today, the members of the younger generation with their smartphones and phone apps think they got it made, but actually, as I’ve said many times before, the internet has, for many, become an end unto itself – virtual sex in the form of sexting and skyping. It may sound strange to say this, but in those technologically barren days of the 70’s, 80’s and into the 90’s, when we felt like members of some secret society, not demographics for politicians and marketers to exploit, being gay was a lot more fun.
For me, the golden age of gay sex is synonymous with my days as a New York City slut. On weekends, there was the West Village scene and Christopher Street, Boot and Saddles, the Monster, and Tys, which morphed into a zebra bar (white guys and black guys cohabiting). But for most of us, those bars – and places in the West 20’s like Rawhide – were just foreplay to the triumvirate of hot guys, the Eagle, and the Spike, both on West Street, and just a short walk over, the quiescent leather bar, the Lure. Cruising, real cruising, not the flirtatious cockteasing you find in bars today, was why you were there. And the arousable scents of sweat and piss and poppers were far more intoxicating than the liquor they served.
Sadly, most of these watering holes are gone, and the once deliciously seedy West Village has been largely yuppiezed.
For the more practical minded there were the East Side Baths, uptown off Third Avenue, populated by a seasoned blue collar crowd, and the West Side Baths, downtown, where the young and buffed pranced around like peacocks.
In the 70’s, Man’s Country, a multi-storied whorehouse in the 20’s, ran two dollar locker nights on Tuesdays that resembled some ancient Roman orgy. In fact, it was at Man’s Country that some hottie introduced me to poppers that to this day, like Pavlov’s dog, I associate with hot sex.
Even when it isn’t.
Twenty years later in the 90’s came Wally’s Place, a warehouse-sized sex club in the West 20’s, named after the same guy who had given birth to the Lure, where on a Wednesday or Sunday evening you checked your clothes at the door in a paper bag and left a few hours later with cum dripping from your goatee.
I can also thank the baths and sex clubs for helping me build my private stable of fuck buddies – Joe, the cancer researcher who worked at Sloan Kettering; Mike, a pharmacist at Pfizer’s who introduced me to its new experimental med, later marketed as Viagra; and Doug, a cameraman for NBC, who started our evenings with grass and a beer and ended them with sex and a few lines of coke. We knew how to push one another’s buttons; after all, we had all product tested one another in the whoreholes.
Bobbie Rosenberg from my playful New York days lived on the Upper East Side in an old walk-up, a relic of the turn-of the-last-century days when immigrants crowded what were then considered tenements. We had met at Uncle Charlie’s, a local bar, played around one night, then morphed into Saturday night bar hopping buddies. Moonfaced, stoop-shouldered, Bobby nonetheless knew how to play the system, and I was, yes, jealous how successful he was at it.
Bobbie also had the not-so-coveted knack of contracting the Disease of the Month which didn’t bother him at all; in fact, he’d often brag to me about what exotica he had caught getting fucked. Amoebas were my favorite.
December 31, 1979, Bobbie hosted a New Year’s Eve Party in his tiny apartment. I remember watching Dave Clark who had that gay iconic group, “The Village People” on. They sang some song extolling the upcoming new decade and the buzz among us gay guys that night was that the ‘80’s were to be OUR time.
Instead, the 80’s signaled the abrupt end of the Golden Age of Gay Sex.
Had we known what was ahead, we would have dumped our poppers down the toilet and joined a seminary. Looking back, though I know it wasn’t true, AIDS seemed like some Biblical retribution for the Sodom and Gomorrah ‘70’s.
And Bobbie was among the first wave of gay men to be swept away by the scourge.
But hey, you have to admit one thing.
For as long as it lasted, we sure as hell had fun.