just an illustration🙂
I found it in the Yellow Pages, which I was checking out at the Toronto Coach Terminal on Bay Street. I had just arrived from Niagara College. It was 1979. I was 19. I thumbed through the book, checking “Baths”, which brought up bathroom fixtures mostly, then I think I tried “Saunas”. I can’t be sure how I found it; only that there it was, complete with a not-to-scale map. Turns out it was very close.
This was well before the mass bath-house raids by police of 1981, “Operation Soap” – well before I took that occasion to come out to my family.
So everything about Toronto at that time of my life was huge. But I found my way to The Romans, where I stood in line briefly to hear how men entered, what was said, what, if any, identification was required.
I rented a room, a real bargain, I thought, at less than $20. Once inside the facility, I noticed an active gym, showers, a lounge, a pool, two saunas (wet and dry), a whirlpool and a lot of faux pillars, statues and plants. This small-town boy was impressed.
Turns out the room was about the size of a train roomette, with a single bed and a locker, a small table and an ash-tray. But as I made my way through the maze of hallways to find it, it was clear that the decor was not uppermost on the priority list of my fellow bathers.
I do not recall all I got up to that night, perhaps for the purposes of this blog that’s for the best, but I have a vivid recollection of being with a guy I swore could have been Gino Vanelli who, at that time, had wild, dark curly hair (and all over his body!).
There were lots of men, in lots of states of undress, cruising the hallways, checking out the various facilities.
It was a pleasant initiation, the experience I would expand over subsequent trips over the years into the city by visiting other bath-houses.