Back in the early to mid nineties I used to visit Rios, “London’s Leading Naturist Health Spa”, maybe a couple of times a year. It was ten minutes walk from home and Mrs H. very occasionally would come along too although I think the third time was probably the last for her. The propensity of the male clientele (and 90% were male) to follow her wherever we went was too much and I certainly did not enjoy it.
If it felt a little seedy with the bar with the topless female staff then this was exacerbated by the little signs installed in the sauna cabins instructing men that there would be no tolerance of them playing with themselves. Those signs were not there at first but appeared on later visits. Were they there on my last visit? Then I had one guy come and sit inches from me in an otherwise empty warm pool with space for 20 others without saying anything but nudging my foot and then later another guy strode out of the same pool sporting a rather magnificent erection and not the least bothered about it.
In those days Rios did not describe itself as it does now as being “for liberated people aged 21+ where you can enjoy the company of likeminded adults” but with ‘private rooms’ upstairs it certainly catered for that clientele. I found it off putting that it was not clear why people who may or may not engage with me were there. There were undoubtedly ‘genuine naturists’ which is the basis on which I went but there all sorts of others including were men who were there with women who I think had been paid to accompany them and gay men who were looking for more than naturism.
I had difficulty in enjoying this place where for one group of people it means one thing and another group something else.
So as an experiment I went to Pleasuredome at Waterloo.
A gay sauna.
Why I should take this action to help me learn more about my self is difficult to pin down and maybe will be the subject of another blog, but go I did.
Initially I was surprised that just about all the men wore towels most of the time. But soon I found myself in what was probably a 12 man sauna cabin with benches either side and there one man sitting opposite me and another sitting a foot to my right. We were all naked and we were all masturbating openly.
I can’t remember how it started or finished in terms of who arrived first and left last but I do know that at least while I was there there was no physical contact. It was dark, but not that dark, and the lack of mutual touching may have had a lot to do with, at least on my part, a total aversion to making eye contact, but in this confined space with these two men I was very aroused and I knew the reason for my arousal was watching these two erect cocks being stroked while having two men watch me stroking my own.
What surprised me, and I remember the feeling clearly, was how I felt so relaxed there in that sauna. We were three fit men not hiding anything from each other, not communicating in any way other than through providing visual pleasure to each other, and I did not feel out of place.
I explored further. I enjoyed being observed fully aroused in the shower and I then walked the dark corridors. It was in an alcove in these corridors that I encountered what I can only describe as a pile up of bodies squeezed into this obscured area. I was curious at this first encounter with sauna sex but instinctively I was not wanting to make the physical contact required to find out what was going on.
In the steam room, smaller than the sauna and almost full, I encountered more action. I sat, pleasuring myself and observed.
And so it went on and it was after about two hours that I departed. I had barely made physical contact or had eye to eye interaction with any man in there. And I was probably one of the few not to have used the visit to reach orgasm.
I knew I would return, if not here then to try another gay sauna. That was Chariots in Shoreditch, much roomier with pseudo-Roman decor. I told Mrs H. about this new experience and how it was possible to visit such a place without getting hit on and how it was somehow less seedy than Rios. It even had a decent sized, really pleasant swimming pool.
I went back maybe five times in five years. Each time it became less enjoyable. The strange innocence with which I had thrown myself into Pleasuredrome became wariness of these men around me and self consciousness of my desired nakedness when others wore towels. I never craved the physical contact which others were there for and the (for me) delightfully erotic scenario in that first sauna cabin was never really repeated; I found myself wanting to leave after a short and shorter time.
All that was in the 90s. I have had two gay sauna experiences since in new venues, one not so good, but the last two years ago, when I somehow found confidence to take control on my own terms, was very enjoyable. However despite thinking at the time that I would be returning almost immediately I have not yet done so.