Some men—heterosexual men—enjoy male-only socializing on a regular basis. And like clockwork, on their way home from the office, they stop off at a men’s sauna. There is where they get to congregate with their own kind. There, they can untie their ties; slip off their slip-ons; relax, dressed in nothing but a bath towel; and talk politics, sports, play cards, drink beer, and discuss the affairs of the day, men’s-style.
Admission to most men’s saunas requires membership, but memberships are easy to secure and are usually renewable on a monthly or annual basis. But for out-of-town patrons, day-memberships are offered. Unlike exclusive men’s clubs, saunas typically welcome all—for a reasonable fee. With a valid passport or some other form of government-issued identification, any man of legal age can purchase the desired membership and enjoy the facilities.
Typically, upon arrival, a gentleman provides his name and is then assigned a locker and given its corresponding key. In his locker, he should secure his clothing and his valuables. The client is presented with the key (typically attached to an elastic wristband) and is advised to safeguard it on his person throughout the duration of his visit. (Some saunas also have a security-box system whereby patrons are each assigned an extra locker, typically accessible only by the check-in clerk or some other designated sauna staff member, into which valuables such as wallets, jewelry, and cash are placed). Each client is also provided a couple of towels, soap, and a pair of rubber slippers for use while showering or walking about the facility. Some men prefer to carry their own rubber slippers. Personal shower slippers should be scrubbed and washed clean prior to use at the sauna. Walking about a sauna wearing slippers with street-soiled soles is definitely a faux pas.
Generally, once checked in and assigned a locker, a gentleman proceeds to the shower room. Some saunas are equipped with individual shower stalls; but many have community shower areas with multiple showerheads. Nudity and semi-nudity are commonplace in the locker and shower areas. Even in the community shower areas, most men shower in the nude, wearing only rubber slippers. Some men opt to shower in brief-cut swimwear, sometimes wearing their swimwear or underwear under their bath towels for the duration of their stay at the sauna.
The “dress code” at a sauna is a towel wrapped at the waist, covering the loins. Dressed as such, men sit and have drinks, play cards, look at television, etc. (Because the overall facility is generally air-conditioned, some men prefer to cover their torsos with a T-shirt. But a man who prefers to be clothed is free to do so).
Standard amenities at a men’s sauna include a dry sauna, the steam room, a jacuzzi, a fully equipped gym, an on-staff professional masseur, a heated pool, a small theater (where “men’s movies” are typically available on at least one channel), and a bar/social lounge. Today, some saunas have open-air decks for smoking customers. Food and drink, as well as other services, are available on account: A gentleman presents his key; the attendant creates a tab based on the key number and provides the requested goods or services; and the gentleman pays his bill at check-out.
There is a certain congenial atmosphere in a men’s sauna. Strangers meeting at the bar offer each other drinks—the way men do at a local drinking hole where “everybody knows your name.” And men typically initiate conversation with ease. Somehow being clad in nothing but a towel engenders a certain familiarity and openness. Many friendships and business relationships are forged at the sauna.
And to facilitate payment, credit cards are generally accepted. While there is no need to tip bartenders and waiters, masseurs and locker room assistants (who keep a watchful eye over the lockers and dispense fresh towels, etc.,) should be tipped in cash. It is advisable, therefore, that a gentleman keep a suitable amount of cash in his clothing locker so that he can easily access the cash (without having to return ot the check-in desk to request access to his security box) in order to tip his attendants.
Gay Saunas/Bathhouses (with and without “Rentboys”)
The A.I.D.S. epidemic, which began wreaking havoc on humanity in the early 1980s, prompted the closing of gay bathhouses all over the world, especially in the United States. Some, however, survived, even if underground or under disguise (as “private men’s clubs”), and others have since emerged or re-emerged on account of tempered hysteria and heightened public health consciousness due in part to advancements in A.I.D.S. awareness and advocacy, research, prevention, and treatment. But through it all, from the glory—and gloryhole—days of the 1970s, to the dark decades of the 1980s and ’90s, to the emboldened gay culture of present-day—there has always been bathhouse etiquette, even if unspoken and unwritten.
The difference between a putatively heterosexual men’s sauna (See above) and a gay bathhouse/sauna is that men attend the latter primarily to engage in casual, non-committal, spontaneous, anonymous sex with other men. And the etiquette has evolved accordingly.
Gay Saunas with “Rentboys”
In countries where prostitution is legal, some gay saunas encourage the membership of male sex workers, their attendance providing an “added attraction” for the venue. (Some establishments offer special discounts, membership incentive packages, and special amenities to their rentboys). The quantity, variety, and quality of the rentboys can make the difference between the success or failure of a gay sauna.
Saunas with rentboys typically offer all the services and amenities of regular men’s saunas (See above) but have, as an additional feature, individual “suites” containing a bed, a private bathroom, and usually a wall-mounted viewing device that offers gay, bi-sexual, or heterosexual adult films and videos. Some establishments also offer standard cabins, equipped only with a bed. For a fee, simple cabins and suites may be reserved for 30-minute periods, with overtime billed in 30-minute increments. Depending on the establishment, condoms and single-use packets of lubricant are available for a fee or on a complimentary basis. The suites and cabins are serviced after each reservation.
Generally at establishments with rentboys, the rentboys are officially distinguishable from regular clients by their lounging towels. But towels aside, a rentboy is usually obvious: in the prime of his physical beauty (between the ages of 20 and 30) and very engaging.
One of the pluses of an establishment with rentboys—at least from the point of view of the clients—is that the environment is a “renter’s market”: The sex workers actively compete for clients. It is not uncommon, for example, for a rentboy to feign adjusting his towel in order to “flash” his attributes; boldly and completely remove his towel and walk about the sauna in-the-buff; or sit or stand, even if self-invited, next to a patron, oftentimes making suggestive physical contact, in order to entice a “trick” (called a “programma” in Brazil).
Rentboys are typically skilled in the art of tacit communication: an eye caught across the room, a smile flashed in passing, the nod of a head, speaks volumes…. But even with their oftentimes disingenuous “I love you”s, “You’re so beautiful”s, or the more brazen “Do you want sex?”s, a rentboy is exactly that: a man for rent. He is a sex worker and should be treated as such. His aim is to get paid, not to fall in love or to forge a friendship. And despite their wile and charms and sweet enticements, their goal is to exchange sex for money. Interactions with rentboys, therefore, should be handled, first and foremost, as business arrangements, not as romantic exchanges, friendly relations, or casual encounters. When it comes to sex for money, there should be little or no room for “misunderstanding.” Parameters must be established beforehand. What is requested, desired, and expected must be specified. And the fee must be agreed upon—in advance of any engagement of services. When there are language barriers, the sauna staff should be consulted or engaged. On staff will almost always be a person fluent or at least conversant in English. And when all else fails, sign language, a display of the agreed-upon fee, etc., should be employed so as to minimize any occasion for misunderstanding. Some rentboys present themselves in pairs so as to form “threesomes.” Only a sauna-savvy, rentboy-experienced client, well-versed in the language of the rentboys, should ever engage two or more rentboys simultaneously. And, of course, the same businesslike approach as recommended above should be employed. There should, for example, be no ambiguity as to how much each rentboy will be paid and what duties each rentboy is being paid to perform.
It is best for a client to clearly express his sexual desires prior to engaging a room or a suite for an encounter with a rentboy. Whether a rentboy is “active,” “passive,” or “versatile,” for example, should be clearly established, even if such “labels” tend to expand or become less defined once in private. In some cultures, a rentboy may profess to be “only active” when booking a client within earshot of his co-workers, then express more a more flexible posture once in the privacy of a suite. What is important, however, is that expansions are permissible, while retractions are not. A rentboy, for example, should not profess to be “only-active,” or “top-only,” then convert into “primarily passive” or “passive-only” once in the privacy of the suite. A client who engages a particular service should obtain at least the contracted-for service. It is also acceptable for a client to request to “see the goods” or the see that the goods are “in working order” prior to engaging the services of a rentboy. And a client should take note of “very busy” rentboys, for even a young man in his physical prime might experience “performance issues” during the course of a long, active day at the sauna….
A gentleman should research the “going-rate” for rentboys in the jurisdiction or at the particular sauna prior to his visit. Typically, a rentboy, especially the exceptionally beautiful ones, will request the top going-rate (or may even request twice as much if he feels the client is naïve or uninformed). It is the responsibility of the client, however, to decide what price he is willing to pay for the particular rentboy, given the overall going-rates and the particular attributes of the rentboy, then hold fast to the offer. Rentboys, even the exceptional ones, are usually willing to accept 25% less than the top going-rate. And on “slow nights,” they might even be willing to offer a 50% discount. Even sex workers have to occasionally put their merchandize on sale!
“Reputation” is paramount amongst male sex workers. And it is not uncommon for patrons to exchange on-site reviews of particular rentboys. However, the general rule should be: “If you can’t say something good, say nothing at all.” After all, no gentleman speaks—especially disparagingly—of of his bedfellows….
Unlike food, drink, cigarettes, and professional massages, for example, charges for which are kept on a running tab and paid with cash or credit card prior to departing the facility, rentboys are paid directly, in-hand, in cash—after services have been rendered. A client, therefore, should carry enough cash to pay for his estimated sexual encounters. Generally, the client keeps his cash in his clothing locker and retrieves it to pay the rentboy. (Most rentboys will eagerly accompany—or even lead—the client to his locker in order to be paid). Never, ever, should a rentboy be paid in advance. Money, not orgasm, is a sex worker’s climax. So advance payment will almost always make for an anti-climactic encounter, from start to finish.
A tip may be offered for exceptional service. But tips are neither required nor expected. Alternatively, a rentboy may be invited for a drink or a snack either before or after the encounter. A gentleman should tip, in cash, his cabin/suite steward, bathroom custodian, and locker room attendant prior to departing the facility. He should also tip an exceptionally good bartender prior to departing.
During the course of his stay at a sauna with rentboys, a gentleman should take actual or mental notes of his charges. (Because running tabs are kept based on key number, and because several people may become aware of a client’s key number during the course of his use of the facility, there can be, on occasion, attempts to attribute superfluous charges to a gentleman’s tab. On the rare and unfortunate occasion where a gentleman must object to what he has reason to believe is an inaccurate tab, the objection should be discretely raised with the facility’s management staff.
Hygiene on the part of clients and rentboys is paramount. Most saunas provide basic soap, but a gentleman is expected to bring his own skin products and moisturizers. Besides arriving already- cleansed, then utilizing the on-site facilities for additional cleansing, a gentleman should always have breath-fresheners for himself and to offer to his companions.
No sexual act that endangers or puts oneself or others at risk should be engaged. Use of condoms must be regarded as mandatory. And sex workers should be treated with dignity and respect. When engaged with a sex worker, a gentleman should be generous with his compliments. All efforts should be made to make sure that the experience is emotionally uplifting to the sex worker.
Gay Bathhouses (without rentboys)
Because most jurisdictions declared bathhouses illegal on grounds of public health in the 1980s, many gay bathhouses (also called “gay saunas”) are today officially registered as “private men’s clubs,” and, as such, require “membership.” Therefore, in order to enter most bathhouses, a man must become a member, even if just for a one-time usage of the facility. With proper documentation (a valid passport or driver’s license, for example) establishing legal age, and for a relatively modest fee, a membership can be obtained. Gay bathhouses are exceedingly confidential about their clientele, for in order for such establishments to survive, their members must be assured of utmost discretion on the part of the establishment’s management and staff.
Most gay saunas open for business in the late afternoon, around 3:00 p.m., and close around midnight, with the busiest hours, because of a professional clientele, extending from around 5:00 p.m., to around 10:00 p.m. There are some saunas, however, with extended hours. Amigo Sauna (www.amigo-sauna.dk ) in Copenhagen, Denmark, for example, is open from 12:00 noon to 7:00/8:00 a.m., thereby also serving the late-night, after-party clientele. Sometimes dubbed a “ho”-tel, it is not uncommon for a young man visiting Copenhagen, but with no sleeping accommodations, to spend the night at Amigo Sauna, using one of its 28 first-come, first-serve cabins as a makeshift bedroom.
If the ambiance of a traditional men’s sauna engenders camaraderie, and the atmosphere of a gay sauna “staffed” with rentboys suggests a meat market, then the dimly lit environs of a gay bathhouse are like a multi-level men’s boutique, after-hours, filled with come-alive, speechless, sex-craved mannequins—in all shapes and sizes and naked except for bath towels covering their loins—searching for intimate companionship, department by department, dressing room by dressing room. Few words are uttered amongst the patrons of a gay men’s sauna. There, the official language is body language. And it would behoove a gentleman to know its accents.
From the outside, many gay bathhouses have a barely legal, creepy-crawly, on-the-D.L.-ish appearance. To enter one is to at first think, “This is probably not a good idea….” Or, “Hope they have hidden cameras—just in case…. But then again, on second thought, do I really want to be captured on videotape entering a gay bathhouse? What would my boss, or worse yet, my parents, think if the footage ends up on the Six O’clock News?….”) Rarely are gay bathhouses located on prominent streets or housed in high-profile buildings. Signage, if any, is usually minimal. The objective is to go unnoticed—except to its clientele. Today, for the most part, gay bathhouses have websites and advertise via the internet. They also rely on client reviews, word-of-mouth advertising, and people seeking them out. [Some gay travelers make it a point to visit the gay saunas in every city they visit]. Once inside, however, a gay bathhouse looks much like a men’s sauna or men’s sauna with rentboys: There is the check-in desk, behind which are the security boxes for personal valuables; there is the general locker room for shoes, clothing, backpacks, etc; there is the shower room, but almost never with individual stalls, thereby allowing clients to get close-up views of each other and of what is to come; there is the on-staff masseur; and, of course, there are the bar and lounge areas, the gym, the dry sauna, the mini-theater, the steam room, the pool, the jacuzzi, etc. And some establishments have live shows, featuring everything from drag queens to male strippers to live sex shows.
But because of the nature of a gay bathhouse—a place where men go “cruising” for free, anonymous, spontaneous, non-committal sex with other men—it has some unique attributes:
-Whereas at a bathhouse with rentboys the client gets to pick and choose, for a fee, his desired partner, at a regular gay sauna (perhaps with the exception of its “dark room” or fetish room), the atmosphere is more akin to cat-and-mouse or “by invitation only.”
-While all men’s saunas provide towels for their clients, only some provide rubber shower slippers, the primary purpose of which is to prevent the spread of foot fungus. Also, in some cultures, for example in Brazil, it is considered unhygienic (and uncouth!) to walk about barefoot in the public-indoors. It is therefore wisest for a gentleman to carry his own shower slippers. That way, he can be assured of the availability, fit, and cleanliness of his sandals (Most saunas sanitize their sandals, but one never knows….)
-At saunas with rentboys, condoms and lubricant are typically offered for sale. But at a gay bathhouse, prominently placed at the check-in counter will be large, self-service dispensers of complimentary, individually wrapped condoms and single-use packets of lubricant. Sex is the name of the game at a gay sauna, so the establishment, in the interest of public health in general and the health of its clientele in particular, facilitates safer-sex.
-Though there are bars, lounge areas, and rooms for relaxing in the company of other men, very little “socializing”—besides that which occurs when actually engaged in a sex act—takes place at a gay bathhouse. For the most part, men are “on the prowl,” or “lurking in the dark,” looking for other willing participants. As such, except for the rooms that must be well-illuminated, such as the check-in/check-out room, the shower room and restrooms, the locker room and gym, and the bar, the rest of a gay bathhouse is dimly lit or dark (as in the case of the obligatory “dark room”), the purpose of which is to encourage random, anonymous sexual encounters.
-Unlike a sauna with rentboys, where sexual intercourse takes place in reserved rooms and suites that are serviced by sauna staff, in gay bathhouses, there are simple, spartan cubicles that are available on a first-come (Honestly, no pun intended) basis. (Some bathhouses offer clients the option of reserving cubicles for specified periods, ranging from 30 minutes to full-day. Cubicles available for reservation are serviced [Okay…, pun somewhat intended] by bathhouse staff before and after each occupancy). Each cubicle is equipped with a door that can be locked or latched from the inside; a twin-sized, vinyl-upholstered (so that it can be wiped cleaned) cushioned bench that doubles as a bed; a waste basket; wall-mounted dispensers of industrial-grade paper towels and toilet tissue; and a spray-bottle containing some fresh-smelling deodorizing sanitizer. For hygiene purposes, the floors inside the individual cubicles are never carpeted, allowing occupants to wipe them clean (The last thing a gentleman needs is to slip or sit on a previous occupant’s bodily fluids or, worse yet, body solids!) and for bathhouse staff to give each cubicle a full-scale cleaning during closing hours. But as a matter of personal hygiene, public health, and common courtesy to fellow patrons and the staff, a gentleman should wipe clean any cabin he occupies before and after use, remembering to wipe clean doorknobs and latches, for as it is said, “The disease is in the details.” And, of course, used condoms should be concealed in paper towel or toilet tissue prior to being discarded in the trash can.
There is a whole etiquette pertaining to cubicles at gay bathhouses, beginning with their doors: A closed door, obviously, means “Do not disturb”; but a cracked door means “You can peek in to see what’s going on inside, but don’t enter”; a halfway-open door means “Stop and take a look, but eventually move along so that someone else may get a chance to see the show”; a wide-open door means “Voyeurs welcome! [to observe from the threshold.] And the more, the merrier!” (A fully opened door may also be an invitation to “Step inside, become a wallflower, and enjoy the show”). The body position of the cubicle-occupant also speaks volumes. The general rule is that a fully opened door is an invitation to enter. But a gentleman must know what he is getting into before stepping into a cubicle: A man standing naked in his cubicle, facing the doorway, is inviting guests to perform oral sex on him; a man fully reclined or half-reclined on his back with his genitals on display is a “top”(“active”) and is inviting “bottoms” (“passives”); a man lying on his stomach, thereby exposing his buttocks, is a “bottom”; and a man sitting on his bench may be “versatile”—a top and/or bottom, depending on the circumstances and the chemistry between him and his guest.
Generally, when a cubicle-occupant has found a suitable sex partner, he closes the door behind them so as to ensure their privacy. But oftentimes, cubicle occupants are “trying on for size” their various guests, dismissing them or approving of them with only body language. Encounters can be very brief or endure for extended periods, depending on mutual interest. But when it comes to cubicles, “Mi casa es mi casa….” The occupant summarily decides, typically without a word, who stays and who goes—no questions asked, no explanations proffered. Such is the nature of the gay bathhouse. Neither rejections nor approvals are to be taken personally. Men are there to satisfy specific desires, and when they receive or do not receive them, they move on, no strings attached. Contact information is rarely offered or requested. Again, the objective of bathhouse sex is anonymous, non-committal sex. A bathhouse is not the venue for seeking romantic love or long-term lovers—even if a gentleman should always be open to the possibility.
Some cubicle-occupants invite group sex. But even within the context of group sex, there is still room for rejections and approvals, most of which occur with only body language. There is personal preference—even in orgies. And everyone isn’t always invited to the party.
-Some bathhouses allow for sex to occur almost anywhere within the facility. Others prefer that sex occur only in cubicles or in the dark room and/or fetish room. Groping, flashing, masturbation (even if not ejaculation), etc., however, occur throughout most of the facility.
-Generally, men walk about the sauna, their towels serving to both conceal and reveal. Passing each other in narrow, dimly lit hallways, they oftentimes touch each other, intentionally or otherwise. Unwanted touches are gently and politely “brushed off,” while welcomed touches are indulged with a smile, sustained eye contact, or even a response in-kind. A backwards glance to take a second, departing look, may be just that: a departing look. But a backwards glance with a quick, forward-moving head-gesture probably means, “Come hither.” In general, while traversing the passageways and communal rooms of a bathhouse, men will ignore the men who do not interest them and invite, via body language, the men who do. And the signals are generally obvious to anyone with a normal capacity for body language and an understanding of personal space. Stalking a man, or following him against his will, no matter how attractive he may be, is a definite no-no. People’s likes, dislikes, and preferences are not to be taken personally at a bathhouse. Sexual attraction is in the loin of the beholder. Rejection by an irresistibly beautiful man should be respected. Likewise, the unexpected approval by an exceptionally beautiful man should not be met with cheers, high-fives, or applause. Instead, a gentleman should thank his lucky stars, enjoy the encounter, and move on gracefully at its conclusion. It is not uncommon, for example, for two men to have sex in a cubicle one minute, then the next minute pass each other in the hall as if they have never seen each other. Such is the nature of the gay bathhouse….
-The “Dark Room” is a particular feature of gay saunas. (Traditional men’s saunas and gay saunas with rentboys do not typically have dark rooms. And why would they? A “dark room” would theoretically be irrelevant in the case of the former, and self-defeating in the case of the latter). The overall rules of gay-sauna-sex etiquette get lost or are somewhat abandoned in the “dark room.” It is, in effect, a free-for-all, anything-goes space. And anyone who enters it forfeits the normal boundaries of personal space. Besides full-blown sex occurring therein—oftentimes in the form of orgies—there is also indiscriminate touching, groping, masturbating, fellatio, fisting, and everything else in between. But despite the oftentimes frenzied atmosphere and the forgiving lighting (or lack thereof) of the place, rejections still occur and must be honored. “No” means “no,” even in the dark. And a hand abruptly removed from a body part means “Don’t touch me. I’m not interested.” The smell of a typical dark room would be most politely described as “eclectic.” But a gentleman should insist on maintaining personal hygiene standards. And the use of breath-fresheners prior to entering is generally appreciated.
-The Maze is a classic component of the gay sauna sans rentboys: It features a series of narrow, dimly lit hallways, leading in confusingly different directions. Strategically or discretely positioned along those hallways, men display themselves and touch and are touched by passersby. Occasionally, a hall culminates in a room featuring a particular fetish.
-Fetish Rooms are also not typically a feature of traditional men’s saunas and gay saunas with rentboys. But some gay bathhouses accommodate the major sex fetishes and fantasies, even if their devotees are not expected to dress in full garb—on account of the unofficial sauna dress code being that of a bath towel, not of leather or uniforms or rubber wear, for example. [Incidentally, some men prefer to remain fully clothed while visiting a sauna. Generally, a fully clothed man suggests “observer” rather than “active participant,” and he should be treated accordingly].
For the insatiable passive man, especially one with a penchant for bondage and submission, there is the “sling room,” where he is secured, spread-eagle, in a swing-like contraption such that any man or groups of men may have their way with him; for the urophiles (also called “undinists” or “golden shower” or “water sports” enthusiasts), there are large troughs into which they may urinate upon others or be urinated upon by others; and while no leatherman would walk around a sauna dressed in harness or chaps (Somehow, leather and heat seem incongruous), some will don a collar or an armband so as to tacitly identify and announce themselves.
-At the end of his stay at the sauna, a gentleman settles his account with cash or credit card and tips his bartender; masseur; and locker, bathroom, and cabin attendants in cash. There is, of course, no charge for sexual encounters, though there will be a charge for reserving a cabin.
Basic Courtesies when Using Gay Bathhouses (with or without Rentboys)
Certain basic courtesies should be observed when enjoying a gay bathhouse:
-Privacy is paramount in gay saunas. Patrons should therefore never use their mobile or other recording devices to record and/or videotape the environs of the facility when such recording will capture the images of persons who did not consent to being recorded. To do so would be an invasion of privacy. Even live stage performances should not be recorded since rarely do the performers consent to being recorded. And even in cases where there is performer-consent, rarely are the recorded images confined to the stage and those performing thereupon: The privacy of patrons sitting close to the stage is almost always comprised by peripheral recording.
-When in traversing a gay sauna a gentleman encounters individuals whom he knows from other walks of life, only a brief, unspoken acknowledgment—such as a slight bowing of the head or a smile indicating recognition—is required. Unless otherwise encouraged, there is no need to engage in conversation since the nature of a gay bathhouse is one of anonymity. And, of course, a gentleman would maintain the confidentiality of such chance encounters. The general rule is: “What happens in the sauna, stays in the sauna.”
-For some men, gay saunas are havens of sexual acceptance. Despite the silent rejections and frigid aloofness that normally characterize such establishments, there is a pervasive unspoken code of politeness and respect. Gay saunas are imbued with a certain sense of fraternal familiarity, and every gentleman entering a gay sauna is expected to uphold that code.
-Drugs compromise judgment and should therefore be avoided in saunas. Given all the goings-on in the typical sauna, it would behoove a gentleman to have all his wits about him.
-A gentleman should avoid activities that may cause harm to him or another person. A gentleman should refrain from participating in any activity with which he is not comfortable.
-Men use the dry sauna to experience dry heat. Men who want steam heat use the steam room. If while sharing the dry sauna with others a gentleman wishes to increase the moisture level in the room, he should request permission from others present prior to pouring water from the designated pitcher onto the hot rocks.
-Permission should always be requested and granted prior to changing television stations in communal television lounges or changing movies or videos in mini-theaters.
Strip Clubs and Strippers
Some gentlemen frequent strip clubs. For others, it is a once-in-a-lifetime or on-occasion occurrence. And for yet others, their only encounter with strippers occurs at bachelor parties or when surprised (oftentimes to their utter embarrassment) by a “strip-o-gram.” But regardless, there is an etiquette that should be observed when interacting with sex workers, whether at their place of business or elsewhere.
Different jurisdictions have different laws pertaining to burlesque shows. In some jurisdictions, full nudity is allowed, while in others only partial nudity is permissible. In some jurisdictions, dancers may initiate physical contact with patrons, while in other places physical contact between performers and patrons is strictly forbidden. A gentleman must familiarize himself with the laws of the jurisdiction.
Whenever a gentleman occupies front-row or stage-side seating at burlesque shows, he should possess sufficient cash to reward each performer—regardless of the quality of the performance. Applause should be offered upon the first appearance of the performer, at various points during the performance if applause is deserved, and at the end of the performance. The objective should always be to treat a sex worker with dignity and respect.
Fetish party organizers establish, publish, and enforce dress codes. Compliance is required. But a gentleman is not expected to leave his home dressed in full regalia. Instead, he would be wise to transport his fetish gear to the event in a satchel, then change into full dress at the venue. Most fetish party venues have lockers that, when not complimentary, are available for a very modest fee—similar to the fee for checking a coat. Some events have designated changing areas; but at less established events, a gentleman may have to doff his street clothes and don his fetish gear in the reception area as other attendees enter and exit.