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My Hajj to the Castro: Like Everyone, I Gotta Check the Gay Ghetto

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I’m in San Francisco. There’s a certain draw I cannot deny. It pulls me toward it. I must go.

It’s like a religious mecca. A pilgrimage I must partake in. A place I must go. A destination I must visit. And no matter how straight-acting or butch or bi or Republican or whatever you claim to be, when you hit this area, you feel the draw to go there as well.

The Castro.

This weekend, I shall go there. I’ve been there once, so long ago. I recall standing upon a manhole cover and taking a photo of my booted feet upon it with the word “CASTRO” in the heavy iron. Lo, about 17 years later, I go back, a much more mature man, now much more confident in myself, much more “out” about myself and much more myself.

Mecca lecca hi, lecca hidie ho.

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Getting in touch with Mark is easy. Just visit the Contact page or check out the links on the top right of every page on this site…

Like Every Queer, I’ve Got to Check Out the Gay Ghetto

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Yes. I must go. It is a pilgrimage we all must make.

This weekend, I will be in the Castro.

It is as if we are all drawn there at some point in our lives. This will be my point. I am going there. I hope to see some of you there. Or at least I hope someone wants to see me there… Brothers? Anyone for a Tweet-up?

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Getting in touch with Mark is easy. Just visit the Contact page or check out the links on the top right of every page on this site…

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San Francisco, Here I Cum!

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Watch out San Francisco!

This weekend will be the first time I’ll be wandering around the city since I was in my twenties.

Mark Bentson in his twenties is significantly different than Mark Bentson in his forties. Yes, I barebacked then. But then, I tended not to be “out” about it. And, well, a little bashful.

When I was there, it was only a few hours. I fucked this guy for about two hours, breeding him three times. We went to dinner with some of his friends then I went to a hotel near the airport where I bred someone else. The next morning I went home.

I’m not sure what I’ll be up to while I’m in town this weekend, but I’ll probably do something touristy. Cross the Golden Gate. Hit the Fish Market. Fuck someone. If you want to be a host, let me know…

Fucking is touristy, right?

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Getting in touch with Mark is easy. Just visit the Contact page or check out the links on the top right of every page on this site…

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Q&A: Bathhouse Newbie

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Q. Never been to a bathhouse: any tips for a first timer?

A. Absolutely. I couldn’t resist. So I put this together for you. These are my personal opinions based on my experiences. Google “gay bathhouse etiquette” to get other suggestions.

TIPS for a BATHHOUSE

I do not, under any circumstance, want to scare you away from going to your first bathhouse experience. They can be really fun. A few things to be aware of from the start. Most bathhouses tend to be in questionable parts of town, so precautions should always be taken. As with any such establishment, theft may occur so be cautious and take care of your belongings (when I first started myself, a thief licking my ass actually picked and chose which of my credit cards to steal).

Another thing, drug use occurs way too often and tweakers can be rampant. I personally think a bathhouse is the exact wrong place to indulge yourself in case the trip goes badly. I’ve seen weird shit go down too often. If things go wrong, the workers will usually just toss your ass out on the street. Tweakers can also be among the worst thieves, especially of cash, valuables, poppers and sex supplies.

Before you go…

1. Shower and clean up thoroughly
2. Clean and trim and be as neat as possible
3. If you’re a bottom or you’re thinking there’s even the most remote possibility you might bottom, douche, douche again, and douche extra deep. Then wait a couple of hours and repeat.

Things to bring with you…

1. Plenty of cash (to get in, snacks, drinks and a cab if you need it to get home or somewhere safe)
2. Driver’s license (yes, you will be required to show one to get in and some places even hold it up front until you leave)
3. A cell phone (some places say they’re not allowed, just hide it; you may need it later when you leave)
4. Poppers & lube (I recommend you bring two small bottles of poppers — because one will get stolen — and several pillow packs of lube)
5. Optionally, you may want to bring sandals if you’re concerned about a little athlete’s foot later (as if that’s the worst thing you could pick up in a bathhouse)

What not to bring…

1. Credit cards or any extra items in your wallet (again, it just puts them at risk to be stolen)
2. Expensive jewelry (target for thieves)
3. Condoms (no need because there’s always plenty of free ones available and around, even if you’re a nazi)
4. An attitude

Attitude deserves a special call out. Do not bring one with you to a bathhouse. While there will people you will not want to have sex with, there’s nothing less attractive on a man than the I-am-so-much-better-than-you-because-I-am-buff-beautiful-and-young attitude. Truth is, you’re a sex fiend and you are walking around in a towel looking for dick or ass or mouth or to be pissed on or whatever.

There’s a level of mutual respect in a bathhouse that usually happens and I’ve seen attitude queens get shunned because they’re rude to the trolls.

What to wear…

You are observed when you arrive. I prefer the casual jeans, t-shirt, hoodie, sneakers, etc. Again, nothing too expensive in case it gets lost. Oh, and I usually have an extra set of clothes in my car in case the set of clothes inside gets gone somehow.

When you arrive…

You will be asked for your photo ID (driver’s license) and will be required to “join” the private club or purchase a day pass (if they have one). It will be expensive — anywhere from $20 to $50. Then you will have a selection of a locker to different levels of rooms.

Lockers are just that. Just like a health club. All you get is a locker with a lock. You put your clothes and belongings inside it. You do not have a place to go to have sex. You will have sex in a public area or hope that the guy or guys you decide to hook up with have a room. Some bathhouses do not allow sex in public or open spaces, despite the fact they are a bathhouse.

I personally recommend a room for a first-timer. This will give you a retreat away from things. Most basic rooms just have a light-bulb with a small platform, a tiny cushion (not long enough to stretch out on), a pillow and a door that locks. It’s a tiny little room, basically the size of a closet. At the front desk, you are provided with a towel, some linens, a paper bag and a key to the room. Some places will allow you to lock items up front like your cell phone, keys and/or wallet.

(I personally never go cell-phone-less but I’ve never had a problem with the lock box.)

Room options including full size beds (which means if you’re going to spend a long time there, it might be easier to snooze), rooms with television (of course, playing gay porn), rooms with slings and other specialized rooms (massage, medical equipment, etc.). All of these options cost more money.

You are renting the locker or the room for a period of time — eight hours is normal.

If you choose to go with the buddy system and take a friend, you technically cannot “share” a room. To save the most money, one of you needs to buy a locker and the other can buy a room. But I recommend you both buy rooms and ask the host to give you rooms close to one another.

When you arrive, you are expected to go and find you room, remove all your clothing (yes, ALL of it, underwear included) and put the towel on. Then you are basically ready for sex.

A few suggestions…

1. Don’t get your feelings hurt when you’re refused or turned down. Everyone has their types.
2. Don’t be a bitch when a guy who turned you down earlier decides later to take you on.
3. You paid a lot of money to get into this place, so remember that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Don’t try to cum immediately. Just have fun. And if you cum, try to cum a few times before leaving.

Basics on a bathhouse

In general, barebacking is the norm at a bathhouse. Don’t scream at me. It’s true. In all my encounters at bathhouses, I’ve only had one man ever insist on a condom. I see condoms everywhere. In fact, almost every bottom I’ve ever fucked had condoms with him. Men love the appearance that they’re going to be safe. But the truth is men are pigs and that includes our sexual encounters.

If you want to have safe sex and you are a bottom, I recommend you take a spotter or buddy with you to make sure your top stays wrapped and keeps wrapped. I’ve never stealthed at a bathhouse (again, there’s no need to) but I imagine it would be easy.

You will encounter men of all shapes and sizes and races and ages. Believe me, someone for everyone exists at a decent bathhouse on a good night. You may not get your number one choice, but you sure as fuck can have a good time.

Don’t be afraid to step back from a bad experience and move on if you’re not enjoying yourself. It’s okay. If he can’t suck cock and he won’t let me fuck his ass, I move on. Not worth my time. Don’t worry about hurting his feelings. And try not to let yours get hurt. It’s just about the sex.

Different areas in a bathhouse

Of course, each bathhouse is different so it varies. I’ll just highlight a few that I know.

1. The steamroom. Since I wear glasses, this is a room I generally stay away from, but it’s the old fashioned steamed up, hot as hell room. Sex can happen or start here. It’s hard to see (even if you don’t have glasses).
2. The dry sauna. Same as the steamroom but without the steam, so you can see what you’re getting into. I’ve seen plenty of sucking and even a little fucking in the dry sauna. Sweat really lubes up the cock and ass in this space.
3. Showers. Generally, men go here to clean up between encounters or to show off their bodies and big cocks.
4. Exercise room. Really working on my gluts, man. I’ve seen a lot of rooms with equipment but never seen the rooms actually used for anything other than, well, the beginning of hook-ups.
5. Sunbathing area. For those sun-worshipers, it’s an outdoor space for getting a tan (and sometimes smoking). Nude sunbathing is the norm here and sex can start and even finish here, although I’ve only really seen oral.
6. Jacuzzi and/or pool. Come on get soaking wet with other men. Funny thing is I’ve seen more men get funky in the sauna or steamroom than in the jacuzzi/pool. And they always seem to over chlorinate these waters.
7. Mazes. Personally, I find these spaces can be fun if done right. It’s usually a room, painted black with very little light. I saw one with black lights and with painted obscene messages in fluorescent paints. Sometimes there’s gloryholes. Wander through and see if lots of men are cruising around.
8. Dark rooms or “black outs.” Rather than a maze, this is just a room or a hallway that is completely dark. You cannot see who is touching you and they cannot see you. Anything goes here.
9. Dance floor. Yes, I have seen bathhouses where you can cut a rug and dance with you cock out. Not my thing. Don’t ask me.
10. Lounge. No sex here. Usually a nice space with a television, some fake plants and snack machine. It’s a place to take a break.
11. Locker room. For all your fantasies, no sex here. For the cheapest rates at a bathhouse, you rent a locker and you change here and lock up your belongings here.
12. Massage room. Some places will “rent” or loan the room to a “licensed” therapist. His job is to work out your stress, which seems to be in your shoulders, your back, your ass, your asshole, your balls and your cock. When all that stress is finally released all over his hand or the inside of his mouth or ass, you owe him money. Gosh, this place is expensive.
13. Bunk room. For the frugal locker users, they don’t have a place to sleep off the drug-induced crash or the post-ejaculation downer, so some offer this kind of space. Now, I’ve found sometimes hook-ups can start here.
14. Cyber lounge. So there’s not enough men in the bathhouse, check out all the men online and invite them over. Have cybersex online! Yay! Come on dude! Real live human beings with cocks and mouths and assholes nearby. Don’t be so picky.
15. Fetish rooms. Jail cells, medical bays, dungeons, meat locker, rodeo, sling, St. Andrew’s cross, etc. are available. Sometimes these are rooms at a cost, sometimes these are public play areas. Either way, if you have a fantasy, they can happen. I’ve seen each of these.

The different cruisers…

Door wide open, on his back, jerking off to video
(oral bottom 80% chance, anal bottom 60% chance, oral top 30% chance, anal top 40% chance)
He wants a good look at you and wants you to get a good look at him. So, if you’re interested, linger in view for a moment. He’ll glance at you a few times. If his attention goes back to the television and ignores you, move on. If not, move to the doorway, rub your crotch. He should begin jerking off more to you than the TV. Again, if at anytime, he goes back to the TV, then move on. Otherwise, open your towel so he can see your inflating cock and move toward him. If he reaches toward it, close the door. If he motions “no” with his hand, move on.

Door wide open, on his stomach, “relaxing”
(anal bottom 100% chance, oral bottom 60% chance, anal top 0% chance, oral top 5% chance)
He’s looking to get fucked, obviously. He might be a little picky about who does it. Slow down, approach, step up. If he says, “I’m just taking a break” or “I’m just relaxing,” then move on. That’s code for, “I’m not interested.” If he says nothing, keep getting closer and touch his ass. He’ll likely be extremely passive and you’ll need to guide him to suck if you want sucked.

Door wide open, on his stomach, “asleep”
(anal bottom 100% chance, oral bottom 0% chance, anal top 0% chance, oral top 0% chance)
He is looking to get fucked and he is likely already loaded. A few times. He’s not picky (and it’s rare to find these kind of men are good looking or decent looking or anything above fugly). Sometimes they really are asleep, coming down off crystal after being fucked for 12 hours straight. Now I personally love dipping into a preloaded ass — there’s something hot about it — but there’s some places even I won’t go. I let sleeping dogs lie.

Door open, standing in door, naked, relaxed
(50%-50% on everything)
Eye contact is everything pretty much here on out, so if he’s in the door, he’s ready to invite you in. Just stop near by let him get a good look at you, you get a good look at him, look him in the eye, if he keeps looking at you, approach. Now hopefully he’s not staring at a bizarre birthmark over your left eye or anything. Tweak a nipple or ask in a low voice what he’s interested in. You can glance inside his room to see what’s out. But he’ll tell you what he wants to do. You do the same. Don’t be afraid to move on. Likewise, don’t be afraid to step inside and sample the wares.

Standing along the wall, no place in particular
(50%-50% on everything)
Again, eye contact matters. (Personally, I think tops tend to roam more and bottoms tend to be more stationary, but that’s not necessarily a rule.) Just like the previous one, watch him for a bit, if he watches you, good eye contact, saddle up to him and start a conversation. “Howzit going today?” or “Any luck so far?”

Wandering around, wearing a towel
(50%-50% on everything)
Following him will not work. DO NOT STALK. He will slow down if he’s interested in you. Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact. Generally, I monitor his pattern and if he’s headed a route toward where my room is, I’ll conveniently need to stop in my room. I’ll glance over my shoulder toward him repeatedly. If he looks at me and I’m looking at him, the message is received. I’ll leave the door open a crack and he’ll step in behind. Brief exchange of interest then go at it or kick his ass out.

Wandering around, wearing fashionable underwear, towel over shoulder
(bottom 90% chance, top 20% chance, tweaker 75% chance)
Where does he store the crystal bags? In his underwear. He’s hot. He’s out of your league. But if he’s high enough, chances are you can fuck his ass. Just be aware if he’s been doing booty bumps, you might get some on or in your cock. In general, though, I’ve found that these guys run around in pairs and are actually the men selling the drugs.

Stalkers or (worse) stalker trolls
(0% chance of anything)
These guys just will not leave you alone. They follow. They try to touch. They don’t get the hint that you’re not interested. To get them off my scent, I’ve gone into my room, locked the door and waited for 15 to 20 minutes. If they’re still outside waiting on you to come out, I roll my eyes with a disgusted look on my face, close the door and wait another five. If they’re still waiting, I will be so bold to tell them to fuck off. Drugged up stalkers might make things a little dangerous so it’s not worth it. Just leave.

Couples getting their jollies
(10% chance of anything)
Seeking to get a little spice in your love life? Well, these couples are. So they go to a bathhouse, open the door and fuck. They want you to watch. They even don’t mind a little touching. But the top will not let anyone else fuck the bottom and the top will not fuck anyone else. That is, unless you’re a couple of leagues above their collective top status. So let’s save the bottom is a seven (on the one-to-ten scale) and the top is a five. The third they might play with would need to be at least an eight (if he’s another top) or a nine. That is, unless he’s really hung and the top is sort of versatile.

Jerkers (or voyeurs)
(0% or anything other than bukkake)
These are guys just looking to watch. They will wander around until they see something happening and they will stand back and jerk it. They just want to masturbate. They do not want anyone else to play with them.

Tips and tricks

Who has a room and who has a locker? Which did you rent? Your key is on a lanyard or wristband with a certain color. So let’s say you rented a room and it’s a red wristband. As you walk through, you notice a lot of men standing in the hall have a bunch of blue wristbands along with a few reds and a couple of greens. Chances are the blue are locker boys with greens for special rooms.

Between tricks. If you get hot and heavy with anyone, it’s polite to go take a quick rinse off. You don’t have to completely shower off and lather up every inch. But at least get the top layer of cum, spit, sweat and lube off of you.

Dick breath. I always carry a fresh pack of gum that I chew between encounters. I don’t recommend bringing a toothbrush (even for the best mouth hygiene, you could open your gums for bleeding with could introduce your blood or theirs). If you want something stronger than gum, bring a sample of mouthwash.

Using a secret word. If I go with a buddy, I always have a “secret word” that we both know. If either of us use it, it’s an indication of need. Loyal friends will drop what or who he’s doing and run to the rescue. Usually that means going to the other’s room. It really depends on the circumstance and your discussions with your friend.

Shit it out. If you need to shit, go home.

When to go

Of course, weekends are always the best — Friday night until Sunday night. However some surprising times I find works:

– Mondays: If you didn’t get laid over the weekend and you want it, you’ll end up in the bathhouse on Monday. It’s also convenient to take Monday off from work since it’s next to the weekend.
– Thursday night: College towns especially will usually have a good night on Thursday. If someone is taking off Friday too and want to kick the weekend off with a good lay, Thursday night is when the weekend begins.

Each town and city is different. Each has a different vibe, a different day or night that might make a different time better or worst. For example, when do the bars close? That’s when the horny men will show up at the bathhouses for a quickie.

Post an ad to Craigslist.org and see what the locals suggest. They will usually steer you the right direction.

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