I caught up with Chris Amos, from London gay sauna Pleasuredrome, to talk about why gay sauna still matter.
With the rise of hook-up apps, there was a sense that the days of the gay sauna or bathhouse were finished. Why do you think that saunas like Pleasuredrome continue to have a role to play in the lives of gay men?
The rise of hook-up apps has impacted on the gay social scene – especially bars and clubs. However the sauna scene is still flourishing, perhaps even more so. A lot of people are actually using the apps inside the sauna, or to meet at Pleasuredrome as it’s much safer to meet here than go to someone’s flat.
Also, in London, many people share their flats . If you want to hook up privately and can’t take them home, Pleasuredrome offers deluxe pods which provide an alternative to expensive hotel rooms.
Men come to Pleasuredrome for all sorts of reasons. Some come after going out, on their way to or from work, some men prefer to not use apps. Lots of visitors to London come too, some men just come to relax and enjoy the facilities.
Plus, in the sauna, you can see other guys in the flesh and hook-up there and then.
Has the way that gay men use saunas like Pleasuredrome evolved in recent years?
With the rise of apps, and the credit crunch that hit the UK in 2008, there has been an erosion of the gay scene, with less venues to visit. But Pleasuredrome is an institution in the centre of London. We never close – we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As venues have closed, more and more men have been trying out Pleasuredrome. We’ve noticed a younger crowd coming in since we’ve offered a discount for under-25s.
We’ll soon be expanding Pleasuredrome to make the spa 50 percent bigger. This will enable us to open an additional 22 deluxe pods with TV, power points to recharge mobiles and controllable lighting.
We are also very excited about creating Britain’s first steam maze. A brand new stone spa pool with unique water features will also be added.
What sort of guys go to a sauna like Pleasuredrome?
There’s a lot of diversity in London. This is reflected in the guests that we have. We get young guys, older guys, bisexual guys, married men, guys wanting to experiment, tourists, all nationalities, jocks, slim guys.
We have a very open policy and welcome all guys.
What days of the week and times of day are the busiest at Pleasuredrome?
During the week, we’re busiest between 4pm and 9pm. On Fridays, we are packed from 4pm to very late, and Saturdays from 4pm all the way through to Sunday morning and Sunday afternoons. We always have guests.
Is a London sauna, like Pleasuredrome, different in any way to saunas that I might find in other cities around the world?
Pleasuredrome is different to other London saunas. We focus on offering the best facilities – steam rooms, saunas, spa pool – and keep these clean and well-maintained.
With the expansion, we really are aiming to be one of the world’s great saunas. The steam maze will be an experience. The owners have visited saunas across the globe and will incorporate the best of what they’ve seen into the Pleasuredrome expansion.
Do you ever have any shows or performances at Pleasuredrome?
We never do special parties or theme nights - despite many requests from promoters to do so. We have found that the few times we did special events, it put off our regular clientele. Our priority is to always offer a clean, safe environment for our guests – an experience that every time that they visit, they know what to expect, no surprises.
At Pleasuredrome, you always know it will be busy, you’re welcome, and you know what you’re going to get.
If I’ve never been to a sauna before, but I’m interested in trying it out, what advice or guidance would you give?
Going to a sauna can be daunting experience for first-timers, which is part of the thrill of the experience. There’s a degree of freedom and relaxation that can’t be found elsewhere.
So many men to meet and see in the flesh, as opposed to navigating fake profiles and constant messaging on dating apps - here, you can see for yourself. Most guys are surprised how friendly people are. There aren’t too many men who only come once and never come back - that says a lot.
Click ‘See gallery’ to see all the steamy photos from the shoot.
Rafael Alencar is looking for volunteers
He’s retired from porn but he’s not slowing down.
I caught up with Rafael Alencar to talk travel, underwear, and retirement.
What led you to make the move from being a dentist to start exploring a career in porn?
One of my patients made me an offer that I’d earn twice more than what I’d make that day as a dentist if I posed nude for a magazine. Then, there I was — on the cover of a magazine and the entire country could see me. The porn studios hunting for new models sent me emails.
I love to travel and fuck. When I was a dentist, I couldn’t travel as much. I chose my first movie because of the location — Guatemala. Maybe I wouldn’t make as much money as I would as a dentist, but I’d certainly have more fun.
I went back home and sold my dental practice. I was ready to start a new career.
Your first film was with Kristen Bjorn?
Yes — he has a great talent, and I admire him a lot for being so international in all his movies. He’s able to put together in one scene five different nationalities all speaking their own languages. The best.
His studio is well known for muscle and well-hung models from all over the world. Even though I only did two scenes for his company, his style of filming multi-national models together still remains my favourite.
Before the Kristen Bjorn movie, I’d already visited over 50 countries and lived in Israel and Germany for a big part of my life. After his movie, I went back to Germany for three more years, then I moved to the US. Falcon contacted me the following week, and brought me to San Francisco. That was my first movie in the US — Getting it Straight with Josh Weston and Tyler Gunn.
My third movie was for Studio2000, where I signed a contract and remained with them for the next four years.
You’ve announced that you’re retiring from porn — does that mean that you’re no longer doing studio porn and focusing on creating content for your subscribers on JustFor.Fans?
Yes! Let’s make it official. After I announced my retirement from porn, I received emails from several studios asking for one more last movie.
I also received hundreds of messages from fans asking me not to stop doing movies.
My last studio movies were with Men.com — the company I truly love the most — and also with Lucas Entertainment. Before that, all my movies — over 400 of them — for all the studios I worked with, were all with condoms.
What do you enjoy most about performing a live show?
When you’re a porn star, the world thinks you can dance and strip. During my career, I’ve performed in clubs in all the five continents. I never knew how to dance, I just knew how to fuck. Seriously, all my dance performances were lousy until I pulled my dick out of my pants and that’s where the show begins.
In the last 10 years, I’ve been only performing at The Nob Hill Theatre in San Francisco — unfortunately it’s now closed.
I’d often hear from the audience — The last thing we care about is if you dance well, just bring your dick closer to my face. That’s what I like the most about a live show.
What sort of impact is the increasing regulation of sex work in the US having on you?
Even though it’s a legal and common practice in several countries, sex work has been always regulated in the USA, and it looks like it’s getting worse.
I’ve never had a problem, but I can’t deny that it affects both sides — who hires and who gets hired.
Clients are afraid to identify themselves, they use blocked or concealed numbers and escorts never pick up the phone for those numbers.
Money-wise it’s about the same. Let’s say, I used to get 50 calls a day. Today I get 20 calls a day — so, nothing has changed since I barely can handle one or two a day.
For the last two years I’ve preferred to stick to the clients that I already know — they’re nice, fun, and very generous. They’re able to take a good care of me.
Can we talk underwear?
I prefer boxers, or loose and comfortable briefs. At the gym I definitely wear no underwear. I sweat a lot, and I like my dick shaking right to left when I walk — since there’s mostly gays at the gym, we all stay happy. On other guys, I like them in a jockstrap, to start.
Travel is one of your big passions — which destinations are on your wish-list?
Travel is what I do the most, more even then sex.
On my wish-list are the countries that I haven’t visited yet.
I’ve been to 156 countries, so I’m missing 39 countries to finish the world.
Hopefully I’ll go this year to Eritrea, Djibouti, Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Comoros.
What are some of your goals and objectives for the months ahead?
Travel to the remaining countries, keep getting my dick sucked, and produce my own home made movies. Volunteers to appear in my videos are welcome — get in contact via my website.
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