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Posted by Guest Contributor / Posted on April 14, 2012

SteamworksSteamworks is easily the most popular bathhouse in Toronto. It's a destination for local and visiting gay men during Pride Week and Halloween. There are line-ups during holidays. Don't even bother trying to get in on New Year's Day unless you have a reservation. I have also found sweaty summer afternoons to be a good time here, spending time with four different guys in the span of two hours, if not more. Why not get my money's worth?

The first time I climbed the flight of stairs and paid $8 for my keys and towel, I went to a locker area where I discovered glass door upon glass door and then a wet area with showers and a hot tub. Next to the showers are a bathroom and two saunas, one dry and one wet. I chose the wet one and met Pete. Since neither of us had a room we resorted to the public areas. We left the locker area, moved to the main area where the rooms and the halls are — and where clothing is optional.

We found our way to the middle where the S&M room is. I call it that because of the sling, but there's also a semi-open double bunk bed. The top part of the bunk bed gets most of the action. It's fun climbing it but it's even more fun to do it there.

After Pete was a shorter guy that I share the same name with. We went to the dark room, which isn't ideal because I like knowing what the guy I'm having sex with looks like and no time span will make my retinas adjust to that darkness. But then again I came with him to the area. I know what he looks like. I should be fine.

After him I decided to leave Steamworks and say goodbye — although he told me to stay because the party had just started. That was at 2 a.m..

Because I'm neurotic, I wanted to do an inventory of the other interesting places and people within the establishment. On the third hallway from the lockers are bathroom stalls where people go to clean up. The stalls have faucets but you have to buy a hose from one of the vending machines where you can also buy lube, chips and bottled drinks.

Anyone can technically have sex anywhere they want with the exception of the gym and the balcony. Away from the private rooms and beside the lockers is the glory hole/army room. Its outer walls are lined with mirrors that are only useful when your eyes get used to the relative darkness.

There are also one or two semi-private rooms that look like jails. I once saw a guy here dressed in a leather super-onesie with a tag on him the read URINAL. Private rooms can be rented for as cheap as $13. There's a mattress with sheets and bottom compartments where you can hide your clothes. There's also a TV and a full length mirror where you can watch yourself with your lover.

The standard rooms are good for a quick post-coital cuddle session or to smoke a cigarette. Some of the larger rooms have more mirrors and, sometimes, their own slings. Those rooms are often bought by the older customers.

The employees at Steamworks are spotless, like this adorable boy from God Knows, Ontario who convinced me to get a membership and took his equally adorable girlfriend there. There's a custodian who drives his cart through the hallways politely saying Aiwa so that the customers would move out of his way. There's also a handsome tanned guy who helped me use my membership to get discounts on rooms.

If you're a member, the front end staff will ask you if you want to put anything in a box to keep for safety. I should tip them - there's a box on the cashier's desk beside the door before the exit. If only the customers were just as perfect. The worst of humanity comes here, like a guy who told me to go back to my own country and slapped me, people who slam doors in my face, who try to slam me into stalls and force me to have sex with them, use abusive foreplay, use drugs and the hottest guys who caress their tongues to my ear telling me about the benefits of unprotected sex.

There are guys of every shape, age and ethnicity. It's probably my bias talking but I keep seeing my ideal man here, 30ish, tall, bulkier than me, Mediterranean/white guy with a tan and scruffy. There are more bottoms than tops but every guy with every kind of preference is here. I tend to sleep with older guys here because they're the ones who respond to me more.

I've also been lucky by how nice they can be. There are two guys (not at the same time) who ask me before or after if I'm using protection and avoiding drugs, PSA style. There are also guys who stay here until the subway starts running again. I come here once every three months and the good guys are the kind who keep me coming back for more.

Writing by Paolo Kagaoan. Photo by Dennis Marciniak from the 2011 Tight Whities car wash.



Jimmy / April 14, 2012 at 04:20 am
Doug / April 14, 2012 at 07:07 am
I guess to be fair someone's now going to have to review a swingers' club.
David Miller's Stained Diaper / April 14, 2012 at 07:19 am
Ummm...what was the point of this article?!

It would have been nice if the author had a unique perspective he wanted to share, as opposed to just describing everything and anything.
Palmer / April 14, 2012 at 08:31 am
What a redundant article. Whoever approved it to be posted clearly didn't read it, or if they did, they have no understanding of the english language.

Besides the ridiculously obvious grammatical errors, the content is borderline offensive - you're essentially selling Steamworks as a place where you can get "four different guys in the span of two hours, if not more." Not only is this advocating an extremely dangerous lifestyle, it doesn't even contain any information regarding the risks- an informed adult can make an informed decision, however as a website that clearly caters to a younger crowd, you have a responsibility.

I considered Blog TO to be a relatively reputable source of reviews, and while you're strength has never been in catching grammatical errors, I never thought you'd let a mistake as large as this get posted.
AmH / April 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

But seriously, this is ridiculous. Did a horny 20something break into the blogto compund and post this while no one was watching?
Ron / April 14, 2012 at 10:37 am
Wow is this the follow up to all the 'street styles' from nowhere but the 'beautiful' parties around town that no real people would be seen at?

BlogTO is getting far too hip for the room.

And it's not offensive because of the article, it's offensive because the content plays into every stereotype that every homophobe loves to believe is true. That gay men are shallow and pathetic, and nothing more than horny hamsters who will get it on at the drop of a hat in a Loblaws if possible.

And people wonder why Ford didn't want to be associated with the parade.
Ron / April 14, 2012 at 10:47 am
As I said on my last post which has apparently 'vanished'. BlogTO is quickly becoming too hip for the room with your 'beautiful people' street style sections and now these idiotic articles that only serve to insult gay men and play into every homophobes stereotype of what that culture truly involves.

Hope this post lasts more than 3 minutes.

Love it up my bum / April 14, 2012 at 11:30 am
I, for one, think this article was simply F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

Good for you, Paolo for writing this! Don't listen to the naysayers. They just don't know what they're missing or are jealous or simply don't understand the gay culture. Anyhoo, it doesn't matter. Just be happy, y'all!

Keep it up, girl!
Love it up my bum / April 14, 2012 at 11:31 am
BTW, I think Paolo (the author) should get an instant promotion!
lee / April 14, 2012 at 11:42 am
I appreciated this article since I didn't even know a place like this existed in the city (naive on my part). Always good to learn more about the city.
Kaori / April 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm
I love how candid and no nonsense this is. Awesome, BlogTO.
Love it up my bum / April 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm
BlogTO & Paolo: I simply LOVE the new direction you're taking! Just love it!

I have an idea. Why don't you guys organize a BlogTO sex party? Oh, pretty please? I think that would be doubly F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!!
Jane / April 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm
If it weren't for the subject matter, I'd think this was written by a middle school student who was forced to write a book report for class. WTF this is terrible writing. I'm not opposed to the subject matter, it's interesting to know places like this exist and how they operate (to a degree...) but at least write a proper article!!
Bill / April 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Wow. I'd rather sit on my couch and eat a stale bag of chips. Lame. Soooo lame.
Kaori / April 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm
I love how candid and no nonsense this is. Awesome, BlogTO.
Silver / April 14, 2012 at 01:01 pm
Hey they blog about everything else on this site, this is just one more place that everyone should know about in T.O....remember peeps, freedom of speech!
Mike / April 14, 2012 at 01:13 pm
Let's make this a regular series. Maybe somebody can recommend a good bar to pick up loose women and go into great detail about the number of tiles on the ceiling, light fixtures and seats at the bar.

Seriously, though, as an adult, I find this article extremely irresponsible.
Love it up my bum replying to a comment from Mike / April 14, 2012 at 01:33 pm
Mike / APRIL 14, 2012 AT 01:13 PM:
" an adult, I find this article extremely irresponsible."

Mike, you mean as a "straight" adult. Str8 ppl would find this irresponsible, naturally. Your religion has taught you that promiscuity leads to evil things. You've been brainwashed from an early age to believe that sex=bad.

This is part of gay culture. If you don't agree with it, then out the door you go!

Mike replying to a comment from Love it up my bum / April 14, 2012 at 01:45 pm
Is jumping to conclusions and making assumptions part of gay culture, too, or is it just something that you do?

Where did I say that a. I was straight b. I was religious or c. that sex was bad?

You may claim that promiscuity is part of gay culture (and I enough gay people who will claim otherwise), but it's not part of a responsible adulthood. Make any excuse you like, but nothing good can come from irresponsible promiscuity, gay or straight.

Claiming that irresponsible behaviour like that is somehow part of a "culture" would be akin to a Jamaican man abandoning his children and chalking that up to a cultural thing, too. That argument doesn't fly.
Mike replying to a comment from Mike / April 14, 2012 at 01:45 pm
*"KNOW enough gay people..."
possum soup replying to a comment from Mike / April 14, 2012 at 02:18 pm
Mike is clearly a straight, white, male.
Phil / April 14, 2012 at 02:32 pm
There is certainly a place for candid, interesting, gay-culture writing in Toronto and I'm glad to see blogTO making the effort, but this is just garbage writing.

There's no excuse for an article, regardless of the content, that is this poorly written nor is there an excuse for publishing anything, ever, that contains the grammatically horrendous phrase "where I honestly saw one of the hottest ass slamming I've seen."

This is just plain awful.
Marcus / April 14, 2012 at 02:48 pm
Interesting new direction. Looking forward to a toronto's top ten sex workers article
MrsPotato / April 14, 2012 at 04:40 pm
An honest and open perspective of what goes on this place. As a straight girl, these are the details I've been dying to know!
Thanks Paolo!!!! You're the awesome gay best friend I wish I had.
Zed / April 14, 2012 at 05:48 pm
I didn't read the article, just the comments
Context / April 14, 2012 at 06:08 pm
Also, that picture is totally out of context, and is actually from an annual charity fundraiser that is held outside Steamworks in the summer.
Joe / April 14, 2012 at 07:01 pm
I feel sorry for any Japanese visitors that mistake that place for an onsen.
Maxer / April 14, 2012 at 07:17 pm
What a romantic little place!
Maxer / April 14, 2012 at 07:25 pm
But in all seriousness BlogTO, you have a responsibility to the public not to publish how much fun it is to have unprotected, untested sex. Using protection and getting tested is not a rule of thumb (or a "rule of bum"?) exclusively for homosexuals - it applies to anyone having sex, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Please get tested Paolo.
Coach Fluff / April 14, 2012 at 07:41 pm
Here's my impersonation of a straight person:
"Get tested get tested get tested get tested ..."
Good lord, don't you dummies know that the Steamworks is where gay guys go to take a bath?
Eric26 / April 14, 2012 at 07:57 pm
What's offensive is people saying this article is irresponsible. When did he say he had unprotected sex? When he mentions the guy that wanted to have unprotected sex he was clearly disappointed, as he wouldn't want to have sex with someone like that regardless of how hot he is.
Steamworks encourages safe sex. A lot. There is no shortage of free condoms or posters or employees (or the condom wrapper itself) telling you to USE IT.
There are certain people that will have unsafe sex no matter what. Steamworks, or any bath house, isn't some kind of bareback haven.
Mark / April 14, 2012 at 08:39 pm
This article just gives fuel to the fire - as if the gay community doesn't already have enough to deal with in regards to widespread stereotypes of promiscuity and overt sexuality.

Being proud of being gay and owning your sexuality is one thing, but to promote it in such a base manner is flat out irresponsible and reflects a complete lack of foresight in regards to how it would be received.
LOL / April 14, 2012 at 08:40 pm
funniest post i've seen on blogto. i'm not gay but it's cool to know about random stuff in the city.

people complaining in the comments: it's a blog not the new york times, f'ing relax.
Stan / April 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm
More in the same vein, please, BlogTO. The underbelly of Toronto for us neophytes. Much more interesting than another list of the best places to buy wings.
Timmy replying to a comment from Alex / April 15, 2012 at 12:09 am
Hey Alex, you don't want to go to a bathhouse and are not interested in what goes on in a bathhouse? then don't read this article. No one is forcing you to read this article. Also, ALL forms of sex are risky -- not just sex at a bathhouse. It's up to the participants to decide whether or not they want to take the risk. Moreover, even if someone does get herpes, why are you using the virus as an excuse to perpetuate the sexual shame heteronormative society already puts on gays? That's a very naive position to take. You say that the article perpetuates awful gay stereotypes, but 1) some gay people actually, you know, ENJOY bathhouses, and why shouldn't their experiences be addressed on BlogTO? 2) these stereotypes are only "awful" if you take a sex-negative attitude, labelling some forms of sex more legitimate than others. You yourself are perpetuating the stereotype that bathhouses/promiscuity = irresponsibility, which isn't necessarily true. Let people write about bathhouses -- not every post on blogTO will be relevant to you, those posts may be relevant to other people.

blogTO, I really loved this article and how candid it is, so please don't be affected by the negative comments. I'd love to see more articles like this one.
JF / April 15, 2012 at 10:27 am
is this a joke? it's so poorly written and over-the-top that it really needs to be a joke
me / April 15, 2012 at 11:55 am
Ok, this is too much, blogTO. I know Toronto is one of the multicultural cities in the world, but putting this article is too much. Really, not every single reader want to, or care about this. If this article is marketing the bathhouse, it is going to a very wrong direction.
Burt / April 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm
It says the guy brought his girlfriend to the bathouse are girls allowed at bathouses
Sarcasm / April 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Wow, great article! I really loved the poor writing and puerile content! Excellent job blogTO! I can't wait for next week's review of what happens when you visit one of the "massage" parlours listed in the back of Now Magazine!!
Dan / April 15, 2012 at 01:17 pm
When does the "Best Rub 'n' Tugs in Toronto" feature come out? Surely, there will be one, unless blogTO is prejudiced against my heteronormative values.
Horace / April 15, 2012 at 01:21 pm
Paolo doesn't know his grammar, but he does write with a lot of spunk.

Whoever cleans this place, you need a raise.
Shane / April 15, 2012 at 01:27 pm
Interesting subject matter, unimaginably terribly written.
JonnyBee / April 15, 2012 at 01:53 pm
this "review" is hardly objective.
Will replying to a comment from possum soup / April 15, 2012 at 01:53 pm
As a gay, white, male, I completely agree with him.

And as someone flat out offended at the suggestion that this type of establishment and the promiscuity that goes with it are a part of "gay culture", I guess I'm a gay man without a culture.

Perhaps I should head off to one of those conversion therapy places since I don't conform to your standards of homosexuality.
Karlo / April 15, 2012 at 01:53 pm
"Post-coital" ... LOL
Chelle / April 15, 2012 at 03:01 pm
I actually really enjoyed the subject matter. I'm a straight woman and I think it's great to have a detailed account of the places in the city where people can go to explore their sexuality gay or straight. From what I personally gathered, I could tell the author was speaking of himself personally and not the general gay population and what every gay man decides to do on weekends.

That being said, the writing was just plain atrocious. I mean really. I understand this is not the "f'n new york times" but something a little more legible would have been appreciated. If Paolo isn't exactly a journalist, that's fine. But the least take the time - as a blog that is fairly respected in this city - to edit it for him before you attach your own name to it. To be honest, you letting this quality of work through makes me question what you let through on a bad day.
John / April 15, 2012 at 03:21 pm
"It's probably my bias talking but I keep seeing my ideal man here, 30ish, tall, bulkier than me, Mediterranean/white guy with a tan and scruffy."

Who the hell cares what is your ideal man?

This is by far the most absurd "review" I have ever seen.
Luke replying to a comment from Dan / April 15, 2012 at 03:25 pm
I agree! An article on rub and tugs would be informative and useful.If BlogTO paid my expenses, I would happy to write this article for no pay.
MsKittyinToronto / April 15, 2012 at 04:46 pm
Very interesting article indeed! Got people on the stir! Way to go!

Does this question the audience number of straight,lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender blogTO readers?? Does reading the article make you think of the changing teams or even curious to check out Steamworks?

Apparently, the only straight bathhouse is Oasis Aqualounge - which BlogTO wasn't interested in at all.
jack / April 15, 2012 at 06:32 pm
Could someone answer my question are girls allowed in bathouses and when do they go do they have to go with a gay guy or can a strait guy take his girlfriend or can they go by themselfs.
Eric26 / April 15, 2012 at 06:40 pm
Will somebody please think of the straight white men?! They're a historically disadvantaged people
Straight20somethingfemaleinthelifestyle / April 15, 2012 at 09:53 pm
What an embarrassment, blogto and anyone involved with publishing this article. There is a way to be part of the lifestyle (gay or straight, male or female) and not be crass.
Paul replying to a comment from jack / April 16, 2012 at 09:22 am
No Jack, women are not allowed in gay bathhouses.

Amazing to see how riled up some people get from learning about something that's been a standard part of the queer community for decades.
JR / April 16, 2012 at 11:03 am
This is probably the most trite and banal thing I have ever read. There are lots of ways to put together this page without giving a poorly written play by play. It isn't useful just writing about people having sex at a bathhouse. I think everyone knows that's what happens. And if you really wanted a run-down of how good your prospects are there, there are other places on the internet that can tell you that. This page should have tried to create some value for people who aren't gay males (because I don't think there are many of us who don't know it exists), but instead it just played into stereotypes of juvenile and sex-crazed men desperately looking for a cheap unprotected lay. Well done, BlogTO.
Sheena / April 16, 2012 at 01:31 pm
This is the best thing since I look forward to your awkward reviews of Club Wicked, next!
Elle / April 16, 2012 at 01:58 pm
Come on, BlogTO. If this were purely an informative article on the establishment itself, fine. That's fair. But the only thing I gathered from this "review" is that gay men are depraved and disgusting and that practicing caution in sex isn't really a gay man's thing. (I know this isn't true of the gay men I know personally, but you sure aren't trying to rid the world of those stereotypes by allowing this joker to write about "gay culture".)
Franco / April 16, 2012 at 03:34 pm
This was too funny, I don't know why this article was even written and published but it doesn't hurt anyone, so everyone should lighten up!
jack / April 16, 2012 at 05:17 pm
Not letting women at bathhouses is outragous, these gay men think they can exclude people because of there sexual orintation. Are chinese and muslems also excluded from bathouses too?This kind of exclusion for women and visable minoritys has to end what is the world becoming. Whats next have a asian night at the bathouse.if women are not allowed why dont they also exclude trannys bi and strait people too. i am outraged. If i am a black person do i have to enter through the back door. Gays need to include all and not discrimunate
Jonathan / April 16, 2012 at 07:58 pm
The article is interesting and informative, but you have to know a little about gay men and how astonishingly rude and hateful it is - TO EACH OTHER! I know of no other minority community that rips each other off, lies to each other, knowingly infects each other with deadly viruses, rejects each other based on certain physical/financial qualifications that the beholder doesn't even have, and worst yet, the gay community makes it so impossible to live amongst it's own community by jacking the housing prices so high that you better have a post-doctorage education in order to live there. Pride? For what? That we treat each other like shit? That we, hands-down, would rather screw 18-year-old straight boys than actually have real, meaningful adult relationships that could possibly lead to marriage? That we could ever be honest and real friends and cultivate some sort of community?

If nothing else, this article speaks to what's NOT happening in the gay world - sanity. We are so obsessed with this fantasy (the straight university athletes we wish to God were gay but aren't) and reality (the 45-year-old gay guys who are 50 pounds overweight that we don't want to look at) and in the process have learned nothing about what really matters in a partner, a relationship, or where to even look for one! I mean, in a city as large as Toronto, it should not be so impossible, in 2012, to find someone to have coffee with. It was easier in 1992 when people weren't hiding in gay chat rooms online waiting for the perfect, straightest-looking guy who might be 'good enough' to go out with. We've fine-tuned our expectations on what's 'good enough' or 'worthy' to be seen in public with that nobody's meeting anybody, more and more of us are isolated at home, and fewer guys are coming out than ever, because they see what's 'expected' of them once they do come out (fancy university degrees, lots of money, look perfect) and simply don't bother. This can not be what was in mind when those before us worked so hard to make us feel included. It's very clear that, unless you are a rich-bitch gay guy who looks perfect, nobody cares about your involvement in the community anymore.
Juck replying to a comment from jack / April 16, 2012 at 08:21 pm
are you joking?..
me replying to a comment from Jonathan / April 17, 2012 at 12:00 am
When you say, "the straight university athletes we wish to God were gay but aren't", you should say the straight white university athletes we wish to God were gay buy aren't".

I have to apologize to say everyday I have seen "No blacks, no Asians" and "White only" in gay community. At worst, these people just tell other "that is not racist, but it is my preference."

How about most shops and bartenders in gay community? Owners "prefer" to hire hot white muscle guys. I am sure that is "preference".

Take a look and understand how much "body nazi", "femmephobia" , "racial preference", and arrogant out there in gays.
Will replying to a comment from Jonathan / April 17, 2012 at 02:03 am

I do feel a lot of the time that I don't belong in this so-called 'community', simply because, to me, it doesn't feel very much like what a community should be.
Ymmm / April 17, 2012 at 04:09 pm
I find it amusing that this review is categorized under 'Fashion Stores'.

realtalk / April 17, 2012 at 08:13 pm
This has to be a joke right?
jack / April 18, 2012 at 02:18 am
I think there should be a strait mans bathouse that excludes gays. a place where strait men can enjoy each other without being percicuted. And every thursdays we can bring our girlfrinds or trannys. And instead of having an Asian night we can have a lesbian night where strait men and lesbians can switch teams once a week and enjoy each other. Also we can have a berka night for muslem females to enjoy strait men. This gay stuff is out of date lets all get ready for the 21st century.
Anon replying to a comment from jack / April 18, 2012 at 09:39 am
How do you have internet access?
RC replying to a comment from JR / July 20, 2012 at 05:45 pm
Nope, everyone doesn't know that's what happens. As a straight female who lives in the village, I was under the impression that it was a legitimate bathhouse where men sometimes picked up, not the free-for-all that this article(?) describes. Naive? Maybe. But I would still be in the dark if it weren't BlogTO.

That said, I agree that the writing is atrocious.
jatman replying to a comment from David Miller's Stained Diaper / August 19, 2013 at 08:01 pm
That WAS his perspective... I thought it was well thought out, though it clashed with my experience of the place.
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