Welcome to the Pleasuredrome

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.

Vulnerability to the male gaze

I have been randomly posting a full range of my images to my twitter account, https://twitter.com/allablur. They do not need to be censored for twitter, and are not. I was very conscious however that on posting this particular self portrait, only taken in 2017, that I took it upon myself to adjust this image rather more than I do most:It was not in my head at the time I posed but in the final result I was conscious that the raised leg revealed a little too much detail. I accordingly shaded between my legs but let me state unequivocally that I still feel a sense of sexual vulnerability here that I do not feel in almost all of my other self portraits. This is curious because in many ways this is more natural than other more obviously erotic images of mine but in those other images I do not feel this same vulnerability. Why is this?

From 2010

This photo was cropped not only to avoid the sensitivity that I feel in the previous image but also for the pure aesthetics of the composition.  In my mind the form of the male genitals can possess a non-sexual beauty whereas to create the same with a photo that includes the anus is far more difficult. I feel comfortable with this image.

From 1995

I’m also comfortable with images like this. It’s unmanipulated, not too revealing but crucially I am not looking at the camera so even though I am presenting myself in what could be considered an inviting way to an aggressive male, that invitation is not extended through my eyes. This is what concerns me most about the first image.

My feelings about that image are I suppose as close I will get to the feelings of the woman who is willing to present herself totally nude. I realise that I have seen it now in many images of models involved in nude art photography – while confidently looking at the camera in many poses, when it comes to the more revealing then looking away from the camera avoids the possibility of that look being interpreted as an invitation to the insatiable appetite of the male gaze. When the look is confident and defiant such images can be empowering to some models and I am sure that even I may carry that strength in some of my images. Just not this one.

Forever young

At 19 years old, or thereabouts…

I have never been keen on getting old, but once I was desperate to age. When I was 11 years old I cared not a jot about my appearance but when I was 16 and still looked 13 I started to worry a lot about how I was different to my rugby playing contemporaries. At 19 I still had not shaved. My anxieties about this  were then greater than my better documented and (now I know) unnecessary anxieties about my penis size – but my penis was not on display and its appearance to others in the world could be controlled.

Although there was nothing camp about me, and carrying around a silent but amazingly strong crush on several of the girls around me at school and university, that I’m sure they will have noticed, there were boys who decided that I must be gay. I guess around 1970 the gay stereotype was very far removed from the macho gay image we often see today. Then it was straightforward: macho = manly = heterosexual. Different = homosexual.

When I was about 15 years old I remember a conversation with a group of my male classmates when one of them chuckled and as part of a big joke described me as asexual. Maybe I actually would have preferred to have been called a ‘poofta’, because at least that would have conferred me with some sort of sexuality.  The comment wasn’t presented vindictively and would not have been so cutting if it had not come from an individual who, other than having sideburns of sorts, certainly qualified as being pudgy and camp. I am sure now that he himself might have felt some pressures himself because of his own differences.

As was the fashion at the time he was one of the many boys of my age who were growing sideburns. Beards and moustaches were not permitted at school so this was a way of teenagers demonstrating their masculinity. Occasionally my face in front of my ears used to be stroked by other boys, looking for a sign of change that was not emerging.

Even if friends realised that I was attracted to girls, many of them had a clear idea that the attractiveness could not possibly be reciprocated. Sadly this rubbed off on me and my perspective of myself. A boy who was a close friend gave me a card with a condom in it for my 18th birthday. “Have a luxury wank” he said, deciding that it was never going to be used it for its intended purpose.

He was absolutely correct, but I should be thankful to him for, following his instructions and much to my surprise, it actually fitted snuggly. This was the first real evidence I received that my erect penis was actually of a perfectly average size. It was however evidence that I did not accept, imaging that there must be another 6 inches of latex somehow wound up in that remaining tight band at the base of my penis, but it was a crumb of comfort.

Elsewhere I shall probably write about how if only I had better information I might not have carried on into life with a complex about the size of my penis and what I now know to be called ‘secondary sexual characteristics’. At that time being treated differently dues to my lack of ‘masculinity’ was never considered by me to be bullying and despite its impact I continued to be naturally sociable, sporty and generally happy with my lot. But I now recognise it was bullying because although I was resilient at the time there has been a long term low level hurt.