Steamworks Berkeley Celebrates 40th Anniversary +
Heat The Official Party of Steamworks 40th at The Great Northern
By Race Bannon & Gloss Magazine | Photos Courtesy NakedSword, FalconStudios.com & Steamworks Berkeley
There is a certain romance to the gay bathhouse. Most gay men of a certain age were offered bathhouses as one of but a few socializing options. Times have certainly changed, as have bathhouses, but their romance and allure remain alive and well at places like Berkeley’s Steamworks. There and elsewhere these venerable institutions continue to provide a unique venue in which gay men of all ages and persuasions can commune and play.
Steamworks in Berkeley is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Yes, 40 years! That’s quite a track record. So many gay businesses have come and gone in that time period, but Steamworks has shown itself to have staying power because it delivers a sexy, quality experience to its customers.
If you’ve never been to Steamworks (steamworksbaths.com), you should check it out. I guarantee you’ll have a good time. Besides Berkeley, they also have locations in Chicago, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.
While a tradition of public baths dates back to the 6th century BC in places like Greece, with some indications of men getting it on with each other back then, men more officially began using bathhouses as a place to meetup for sex around the 15th century.
Of course, those bathhouses did not resemble the more modern American style of such businesses we think of today. The man-on-man sex that took place in bathhouses then was more circumspect and clandestine. They weren’t identified as catering specifically to a gay clientele.
The modern American gay bathhouse experience is generally considered to have begun in New York when the Everard was converted from a church to a bathhouse in 1888. Gay men later began patronizing the Everard by the 1920s and thus began the slow and steady march toward entirely gay American bathhouses emerging in the 1950s.
New York spawned many of the first grand gay bathhouses including the Saint Marks Baths and the Continental Baths. The Continental Baths achieved long-lasting notoriety in large part because of Bette Midler having performed there during her early career days in the 1970s with her pianist, Barry Manilow.
Over time, a variety of gay bathhouses sprung up all over the country with many still in business today. Some included a robust social experience with food, stores, saunas, movie lounges and gyms. A few even had large dancing and entertainment venues. I remember frequently visiting Man’s Country baths in Chicago in the 1970s where I danced in a state-of-the-art disco and saw top notch entertainment such as Wayland Flowers and Madame, Sally Rand, Charles Pierce and Bruce Vilanch.
Sadly, San Francisco is not today one of the cities with a fully functioning bathhouse due to their closing by court order in the mid-1980s amid the initial throes of the AIDS epidemic. In spite of some efforts by community and HIV activists to encourage the re-opening of the baths in San Francisco, the ban remains in place, even while gay bathhouses continue to operate in at least 20 American cities and generally have the full support of their local governments who see them as important locations from which to disseminate important sexual health information and testing as well as them being vital gay community spaces.
While San Francisco stands out among major American cities as lacking a gay bathhouse, such businesses were definitely challenged nationally during the first decade of AIDS. Those pressures are now alleviating significantly and it’s not likely public health concerns will be a major negative factor going forward.
Part of Steamworks Berkeley’s long-term success might indeed be its strong commitment to sexual health. Their award winning STD/STI and HIV testing, education and outreach program brings in community partners from the Berkeley Free Clinic, Alameda County Department of Public Health, Asian Health Services and La Clinica de La Raza targeting both the majority and minority populations of their customers.
Steamworks Berkeley is not resting on its many laurels. They have just completed a nearly $2 million renovation rebuilding all bathrooms, adding new water-saver and rain showers, new modern laundry facilities, new steam room, new dry sauna, and an ADA accessible entry. Steamworks even thinks of the little details such as private douching stations and on tap mouthwash fountains. It’s the complete gay bathhouse experience, and its right here in the Bay Area.
Congratulations Steamworks on your 40th anniversary. May your success and service to our community continue for many more decades.
Heat at The Great Northern: The Official Party to Celebrate Steamworks 40th Anniversary
About the Event:
Come join Cecil Russell and Bevin Shamel of Gloss Magazine for a new party celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Steamworks Baths! Sexy circuit music by MiSha Skye and superstar Ivan Gomez in the larger, newly remodeled space The Great Northern (formerlly Mighty) with a brand new state of the art sound system and lighting by award winning William Brown!
Come dance the night away with your VIP Hosts and the Hottest GoGo Porn Gods!
Plus FREE Giveaways All Night long to celebrate Joshua Deveno’s 35th Birthday!!!
Locoya Hill Entertainment Black Card Holders receive 50% off at the door between 10:30p-12:00a (Must show Black Card).
Mr Pam Gaypornmama
Andrew Van Gundy
Locoya Hill Entertainment
Treasure Island Media
Avanti Production Group
Wardrobe: Provided by Tim Gear.
Tickets: Heat San Francisco at eventbrite.com
About the DJ’s:
MiSha Skye, San Francisco (Madonna’s MDNA World Tour 2012) soundcloud.com/misha_skye
DJ/Producer Ivan Gomez, Barcelona, Spain (Guareber Recordings) soundcloud.com/ivangomezmusic
About the Entertainment:
…I love to dance, but I especially love to dance for producers or promoters who care about the events they are throwing. In particular Cecil & Gloss (who) are really bringing out the big guns with Ivan Gomez …they want this to be amazing event (where you’ll) get your money’s worth. If they pull out all the stops for an event, I’m going to do exactly the same. – Heat GoGo Chad
I am making sure that I am getting enough hours of sleep and definitely cutting back on my partying. I want to give out positive vibes, energy and look my best. Calorie intake at a minimum as I want my muscle definition to really stand out. Lean protein and supplements will help me achieve these goals. (I’ve been preparing by) going to the gym 6 days a week 1 1/2 to 2 hours (a session). My gym routine has been more intense (utilizing the) superset theory. – Heat GoGo Uriel
About the Venue:
The Great Northern (formerly Mighty) is a 7,000 square foot space offering world class DJs, dancing, live bands, and just about every other sort of performance under the sun. The Great Northern is making its home in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse, with 22′ ceilings and huge, beautiful wood beams throughout. There are three bars, including a 30′ all steel main bar and a frozen vodka bar in the back room, several lounge areas, and the latest in projection and lighting design. The sound will be pumped out of the classic Richard Long sound system from 177 Townsend, lovingly restored by Greg and Jake of Ultramagnetic. -SfStation