Friday, July 12, 2024
BooksSexuality & Sensuality

Bathhouse Babylon: My life in gay saunas

A new memoir shares secrets from this hidden gay male subculture. Jameson Farn previews his book.

In the middle of March 2021, announcements continued to be made practically every week in regards to what restrictions were about to be added or stay the same for us in France due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This meant our curfews were going to stay in place and most of the shops continued to be closed again for an extended time period along with a 10km radius for travel. Basically, the government wanted everyone to stop movement as much as possible to protect against the spread of the virus while vaccinations continued to increase.

Fortunately, my work has kept me busy taking care of clients’ requests from around the world, if not for now, then in the near future once borders start opening up again. Although I work a minimum of 12 hours a day, pretty much every day of the year, I still felt like I had some time to take on another project, and what better time than during a pandemic? This book has been in the back of my mind for years and had always been encouraged by others to pursue, so that is what I have done.

Bathhouse Babylon tells a true, in-depth account of my former work and life in the gay saunas of North America.

At that time, I managed three gay bathhouses as they are called here in Europe, over an extensive number of years. I wanted to tell a story that is more of a behind-the-scenes, insider’s scoop on the inner workings of the bathhouse industry.

During various times, I kept diaries as a way to navigate what was taking place, no matter the emotion (and there were plenty), and as it was happening. I had a gut feeling it would at some point be useful in the future, most of all to see how I have grown as an individual.

You can’t have a bathhouse without sex so of course, there are extraordinary sex stories in the book but there is more to bathhouses than just the sex.

When you work in bathhouses, the bullshit is stripped away, quite literally at times. There is a whole social dynamic about it all that much of the outside world is not privy to and which is absolutely fascinating to observe and be surrounded by at all times. You see how men maneuver in that environment on a daily basis, for the most part simply because of their unending sexual desire, which motivates men, whether it is to their benefit or not.

Bathhouse Babylon presents an assortment of random and randy characters, from the Drag Queen and her groupies, to the Chew Master, Five Fingered Charlie, the Greek God, and the GHB Stud. And then there are the supposedly straight men who pop in for a Lucky At Lunch Special…

I wasn’t sure how I would feel working on my first book, but it’s been one of the most enjoyable projects in my life and seemed to flow naturally, which is easy to do when you’re telling the truth.

Writing the book has brought back every emotion of that time, both good and bad, and it’s felt extremely cathartic in many ways. It’s given me the gift of clarity in being able to see how I was then, how I have grown, and to be able to realize how much of it has actually helped prepare me for my life in France and my work in the luxury real estate world.

It’s taught me how to observe everything at all times, negotiate better, navigate scenarios through strategic thinking, know when to speak up, know when to have decorum, and best of all, know how to deal with bullshitters. There will be things in this book that will shock people but also make them laugh, feel sad, infuriated, or entertained. But it’s all part of our history.

Bathhouse Babylon is available on Amazon and other major online book retailers.

About the author:

Originally from Canada, Jameson Farn resided for a number of years in the Cote d’Azur region close to the Principality of Monaco. For over the past decade, Jameson has contributed articles for several European and North American online magazines along with his blog, Gay French Riviera, aimed at those in the LGBTQ community that either lives in or are seeking to travel to this region in France.

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