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TBT: The First Baths

I mean, it wasn’t. Really.

The first baths was F212. It was December of 1996, and I was still woefully naive and inexperienced when it came to gayness. We were in Vancouver, me and the man who would become my ex, visiting the man who was recently his ex, and the ex suggested going to the baths. It sounded fun to me, so off we went. Steamroom? Check. Hot tub? Check. Fourway? Check. After that, I was ready for more bathhouse fun.

Small wonder then, when I finished Uni and was looking for a gay job, bathhouses were among the places I applied. Now, I know I literally just talked about Down Under being the first, but TECHNICALLY, my first gay job in Edmonton was at the Georgia Baths. I don’t count it because, well… you’ll see.

Compared to the new, clean Down Under, the Georgia was, politely, a hole. It wasn’t even at the nice end of Jasper. Still, how bad could it really be? I was hired to do the Friday and Saturday graveyard shifts, and graveyard was appropriate. Dead. As. Fuck. Also possibly the first time I ever saw a cockroach. But what really got me was the fact that the guys weren’t even hot. If I was gonna be bored at work, I should have at least been able to get off before getting off, ya know? Sadly, not to be.

(Also technically not true, but it doesn’t count if I just bring outside friends in, right?)

After that first weekend, I got hired at Down Under and left the Georgia as fast as possible. And I just happened to let my new boss know about some of the health violations at the other space, and he just happened to call Alberta Health, who of course visited, and of course found problems. But maybe it was too obvious after me leaving, and the owners of the Georgia put two and two together.

First at Down Under, then at home (at my PARENTS home), I started to get phone calls that became increasingly threatening. “Keep your mouth shut or we will shut it for you” kinda thing. And so my first gay job ended with me going to the police, to have my first gay bosses restrained from harassing me.

Luckily, there would be no more gay drama in my life.

Rob Browatzke

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