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Bathhouse Blues

David Holthouse's vivid description of a gay bathhouse ("Slippery Chute," March 16) questions why it is treated differently by the city than heterosexual sex clubs. Gay men meet in bars, bathhouses, bushes and bookstores because we're not permitted to meet in schools, churches and living rooms.

We're not permitted to participate in the dating process that permeates heterosexual teen and young-adult years. Because of that, we often lack the social skills to meet other gay men and develop meaningful relationships.

When we do meet other gay men and are able to overcome all obstacles and construct successful, committed relationships, our life partnerships are denied society's respect and recognition.

Why would Holthouse express chagrin at seeing a man with a wedding ring in a gay bathhouse? You're the ones who have created the social pressure that propels some gay men into sham marriages to avoid being stained as pariahs.

For heterosexuals, visiting a sex club is one of many options. For gay men, it's one of the very few.

Until such a time the community allows gay men to bring their dates to the prom, hold hands and otherwise express affection in public and offer civil recognition for domestic partnerships, leave the bathhouse alone.

Let the Chute stand as a tribute to the breeding community's failure to face up to the human effects of its inhumane policies and the sad result of its oppression and bigotry toward gay men.

Robert Aronin
Phoenix

Thanks for the story on the Chute. Your article does not say whether you are straight or gay, and I'm glad of that because it does not matter. The story was the important item and not the sexuality of the writer.

As a gay male, I personally find the gay sex clubs (and there are at least four in the Valley) to be insulting to all I have had to overcome in my life. These places keep bad stereotypes in front of the mainstream public, which they then use to describe all of us.

When I was an ASU student, I went to another gay sex club to research a story for the State Press which was ultimately judged "too unfit to print." It was an eye-opener. Even as a gay man, I was taken aback by what I saw. From your article, I can see that little has changed in 18 years. Your description painted a picture which I suspect was more vivid for me than for most readers.

The startling aspect of gay sex clubs is that the clientele are almost entirely middle-age, overweight, closeted mainstream white men, and as I also learned, most often married to women.

To break another gay stereotype, I have a real problem with secret sex outside of a relationship -- any relationship -- and that's what most men at these clubs want. It makes me wretch, too.

The part that really hurts is that it is so hard to get out the message that these clubs are not typical of gay culture, especially in these days of greatly increased openness and tolerance of sexuality. I believe these places have probably skewed even more toward the "straight" males who are "curious" or just looking for a cute college boy to nail before going back to the life of the business suit, the country club and the Oldsmobile.

I have mixed feelings on the closure of such places. It is a right-of-assembly issue and more to the point, bashing sleazy places like these will ultimately have the rednecks out there bashing all gays, feeling that because the city is doing it, it must be okay. As one who once had to defend himself against a group that wanted either to rape or kill me (or both), I would urge caution in creating an atmosphere of credibility in "going after" any group.

These places damage all gay people because the sleaze gets on us, too. I only wish your article could have hit harder on the fact that these people are a very small minority.

Michael Ingquist
via Internet

I recently read your article on the sex club Chute in Phoenix, and thought it necessary to correct you on a number of issues. You mentioned that condoms were not freely available. I have been to Chute a number of times; condoms have been available at the front desk and are on the tables in the rooms. There are also safer-sex posters and messages throughout the venue.

It appears you have entered the premises under false pretenses, unless you are gay yourself and have not divulged this for your article and have used the information you learned to write an article which basically has nothing to do with you. If you were a journalist of any worth, you would have gotten the opinion of someone who frequents the venue and given a balanced report.

 

All that you have written is a spurious attack on men who have sex with men, be they self-identified as gay men, married, in the closet, whatever.

It concerns me that journalists such as yourself have the means to write such tripe, have it published, and in doing so, create yet more anti-homo hysteria. It became painfully obvious that you have no idea why men go to such establishments. They are multivariate and are not strictly geared toward getting one's rocks off. There are numerous texts in libraries in Arizona that will inform you of homosexuality and sexual orientation in general. You might find them insightful and may change your perspective. Think about what you write about next time, please. Don't contribute to the death of another Matthew Sheppard.

Geoff van den Brande
via Internet

I applaud David Holthouse for actually going to the Chute and writing your article from the eye of the beholder, rather than from hearsay.

I am one of those "older" mature gentlemen who is bisexual/gay with a wedding ring on my left hand (which was put there by my current partner), so please don't be misled by that particular point. But I also am a divorced man of a 30-year marriage, with a 30-year-old son. I do agree with you on several points in your story, but not totally.

The Chute, as it is, does provide a community need for many confused, frustrated gay men in the Phoenix area. (Just as the hetero sex clubs did.)As a gay man approaches the later years and the hair begins to fall, the belly appears, and so on and so on, he has an immense fear of being rejected not only by his close friends but by those close encounters of the strangest kind, one-night stands. So, where do these men go? To the Chute (you left out the Flex Complex). It's dark, they don't feel as "under the scope," it's strictly physical, and 75 percent of these "older men" are seeking a kind word, a warm touch, and "the look." The place is so dark that if you had checked the rear of your locker, you would have found at least two unused condoms, still in their protective covers. The management also is very careful that each room is supplied with condoms. And each room is cleaned after each patron leaves.

I have been to the Chute twice in the few years it has been open. I went with my partner, we used the weight room and steam room, enjoyed conversations with others (non-acquaintances) and actually made a new friend or two -- and were not the least bit interested in engaging in sex. Sadly, the Chute is a sort of home away from home for many older men who are in a bad relationship (male or female), and they feel companionship and a sense of belonging.

I do feel that the gay/lesbian clubs in our fine city should fall under the same laws and policies as the hetero clubs, as long as the law treats both equally. And remember, whether you are in a gay/lesbian or straight establishment, and you are approached for a sex act you are not interested in, there are always the words, "No thanks," and you can walk away. You have the power to make your own choices.

And please, do you really believe the city of Phoenix did not know the Chute existed?

Name withheld by request

Your article makes me wonder about the public's reaction to what you reported seeing. Are they outraged because you're picking on people just doing what they feel they have a right to do (selfishness)? Or are they outraged looking at the true facts (I liked the line, "Just the uncomfortable truth") that this is gross (my opinion) and that it is a major part of a desensitized, demoralized and quickly degenerating society. I really wish that people would stop and realize that even though a person can do whatever they wish and that they may feel they have a right to do it, that it may not be good for them or the society they live in. Those wedding rings should have been an indication of how sexual perversions (sorry, my opinion) affect families. I may have a slant that is not popular, but then who am I but a simple father and a husband who dreams of family values and a society that respects that not all things are good for us. My dad taught me that.

 

Name withheld by request

BOB Whitewash

Congratulations on an informative article, ("BOB's a Bust", By John Dougherty and Amanda Scioscia, March 9). Economists conclude stadiums and championship games are at best an economic wash. They pay for neither the initial investment nor the cost of city services. In Arizona they take millions', hundreds of millions', worth of property off the tax roll while increasing taxpayer services. Profit-making industries feed out of the public trough. The public, that is the taxpayer, is raped.

David Lerner
Phoenix

A Good Read

I've lived here all of my 36 years, and I must let you know that while 90 percent of your paper is, in my opinion, grabass nonsense geared toward whatever the great unwashed think is "cool" this week (but hey, it's free, right?), your serious reporting far more than makes up for this. Over the years, it has become quite evident in your stories on gangs/crime, the environment, growth and politics that some of you actually give a shit about the quality of life or lack thereof in the Valley. Look, I read all the dailies, New Times, and whatever else I can, time permitting. The Tribune is either too warm and fuzzy or just plain crazy, and the Republic often seems like PR for big money and the "good ol' boy" network. Some days, you couldn't get the truth out of them to save your ass. While I certainly don't agree with NT on many issues, you are a breath of fresh air, occasionally outstanding, and praise is due. Thanks for a job well done.

Frederick M. Dunham
Phoenix

Fave Cave

As one who has recently toured Kartchner Caverns, I must tell you that both Matt Chew and your reporter Michael Kiefer are all wet, or at least as wet as the 98-percent humidity level in the cavern ("Spelunk, Spelunk, Fizz, Fizz," March 16).

The "inescapable, insatiably informative tour guides" are extremely well-trained and knowledgeable people who spend a substantial amount of time explaining what not to do before you ever go into the cavern, and then appropriately, explain the "building" process that has created this natural wonder. Most of the time they are silent and let nature speak for itself.

The "garishly lighted cavern as art" is a total misrepresentation. The cavern is lighted, but in all places the lighting is low-key and appropriate. It enables visitors to see the beauty that nature has created.

Your author is dead wrong when he says there is a stage. (Unless he is referring to the video presentation in the visitors center some 300 or 400 yards from the cavern, where the incredible formation known as Kubla Khan is to be found. And, yes, lighting is used to highlight the various aspects of this particular formation, and it is a magnificent presentation.)

One need only hear the comments at the end of the tour to know and understand that the Arizona State Parks Department has done an incredible job of making this natural wonder available to the public. Michael Kiefer really should have visited Kartchner before joining in Matt Chew's unfair and inaccurate condemnation of the work of the state Parks Department. I know I will be going back.

Irwin Harris
Phoenix

Unaccountable

In your article titled "Legerdemain Man?" (Terry Greene Sterling, March 2), you unfairly draw conclusions with little basis in fact, especially with regard to Jay Ozer and his role as the CPA for the beleaguered Baptist Foundation of America. To insinuate that Mr. Ozer in any capacity whatsoever aided and abetted (or even turned a blind eye to) BFA's alleged defrauding of investors shows you have little concept of the role of accountants and to what degree their responsibility extends. Furthermore, to somehow create a "connection" between BFA and Ozer's role as accountant in Keating's American Continental debacle is patently absurd. I am sure that was examined a long time ago. You have done a disservice to a man with a longstanding reputation for honesty and integrity.

Jeff C. Young
Scottsdale

Edit Edict

Wow, Bob Mehr actually receives death threats ("Going Ballistic," March 09). Pretty cool. Maybe his job is tougher than I thought. This is just a guess, and correct me if I'm wrong, but is the music editor's position there at New Times the shit job of the paper's employment opportunities? Basically, do you like your job, or is this just a stepping stone to bigger and better things in the future? I think your job probably sucks and you try to make things interesting by talking shit, I don't know.

 

I remember an article that Bill Blake, Serene Dominic and you wrote together and all you fellas did was talk ass about all the music you listened to. Some of it was funny and it was definitely different, but what pissed me off was the description of all the CDs you had been sent, "the pile," or something like that. The whole thing sounded like a big inconvenience and my first thought was, "You !*&%$~ punk, just do your damn job."

In your retort to the death threats (pretty good writing, I might add), you so nicely tell bands to send in their music for review and it will be listened to. Well, who in the hell wants to have their music -- the thing they put all this time and effort into making -- thrown on top of what is basically considered a big pile of shit?

Respect is something I'm beginning to lack for you. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but once again the New Times comes up short. A while back I called you for some help with a show for a band called the Gluey Bros. I needed some things "listened" to, some music "reviewed," in other words, doing your fucking job! My calls were made plenty of time in advance for at least a call back and I called more than once, so what kept you from "earning" that paycheck? I question what motivates you to stick with this job. If there isn't a part of you that loves or at least likes what you do, then quit. Things break down like this: Ted Simons is the only guy related to the music department that I can respect, not because he gave our record a good review, but because Ted actually called me back and he treated me with genuine respect, so thanks to Ted Simons, I really appreciate what you did for us. Maybe you should get to know him, Bob, he listens to pretty cool music.

Marty Miller
via Internet

Errant Shot

I have taken the concealed carry permit course conducted by Dave Vaughn and described by David Holthouse in your March 2 issue ("Hollow Points"), and found it much more worthwhile than Holthouse's hatchet job would lead your readers to believe. In particular, enough emphasis was put on the legal and psychological repercussions of the use of deadly force to give any aspiring weapons carrier pause. Indeed, it left me a bit concerned that should an attack on me ever again come to pass, I may spend enough time making sure of my justification to ensure the success of my assailant.

Holthouse touched on his perilous encounter with a rap group without recounting his response to it, which this reader remembers quite well. Surprised and terrified when his negative review of a record in a genre whose lyrics consist largely of violent threats delivered by violent individuals elicited just such threats by just such individuals, he wrote a pathetic article informing them that he had surrounded himself with friends and if his antagonists were mean to him, they'd tell.

This suggests that proper armament for Holthouse is not a pistol but a cell phone -- into which, should his snippiness ever get him in trouble again, he can squeal piteously and hope the gendarmerie arrive in time to save his cringing neck.

The rest of Dave Vaughn's former students, who are hardly the d'class' psychotics depicted in the contemptuous artwork accompanying Holthouse's piece, can take care of ourselves -- and I have every confidence we will do so responsibly.

Paul W. Green
Tempe

"I'm not a crack shot..." are probably the most accurate words Holthouse used in his article, "Hollow Points," in the March 2 issue. I just don't know whether he was referring to his shooting or his reporting.

First, he got the marksmanship qualification for a CCW permit wrong. It is 10 shots, five from 15 feet and five from 30 feet, with seven of 10 in the torso scoring-ring needed to pass. According to Holthouse, the "far harder" course he took required 20 shots from the same distances with 15 needed to pass. That's a little more difficult but not much; if you can do one you can probably do the other.

Where Holthouse really missed the target were his conclusions about the adequacy of the course. The purposes of the CCW course are to teach: 1) the awesome responsibility of carrying and using a deadly weapon, 2) the legalities and realities of self-defense with a firearm, and 3) the basics of tactics and marksmanship in a defensive situation. From his account, it sounds as if the Urban Firearms Institute tried to do that. Holthouse just wasn't paying attention. He was much more interested in finding fault with the law, the course, the instructors and students, and the concept of people being allowed to carry a gun for self-defense. Obviously this is why Holthouse took the course, since he thinks he already knows everything about using a firearm.

 

Before Holthouse writes off Arizona's CCW course as woefully inadequate, he might be interested in knowing that of the 43 states that issue some form of CCW permit, Arizona is one of the few that requires any marksmanship or classroom training at all. I take some comfort in that, especially if we're going to let Holthouse carry a gun.

Joe Carter
Phoenix

Easy Rider

As a relatively new resident to Phoenix, I am seriously and surprisingly impressed with the positive attitude and forward thinking of the population of Phoenix as far as the Transit 2000 transit issue ("Traffic Thicket," Laura Laughlin, March 9). In many ways, the response was impressive and even, well, damned sophisticated.

As an ex-Southern Californian, I had witnessed many decades of residents' slow, drag-foot response to transit issues until they had to vote in their light-rail system, which incidentally became hugely successful.

When the light rails become operative in another decade, the doubled population of Phoenix will be ready, and this nation's sixth-largest city will undoubtedly have become this nation's fourth-largest city.

When you see some old fool on the train in 10 years carrying a sign "I told you so!" it will be me.

And we'll be flying by the naysayers stuck in gridlock, all blindly led by the Arizona Republic's "Opinions" darling, Roy Miller, a member of the so-called free-market Goldwater Institute Phoenix think tank (an oxymoron if there ever was one). May this Grand Butt-Plugger roll up a steel train rail and stick it where the sun don't shine.

Robert H. Stone
Phoenix


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