Memoirs of a Towel Boy
Words by Caruso
Illustrations by DogSpunk.com
As I walked down the dank, dimly lit hallway, techno music thumped all around and men writhed in front of me. Grunts and groans from every direction wafted over the numerous partitions, filling the club with that unmistakable symphony. Sex was happening all around me, and there was only one catch: I had to keep my clothes on.
Instead of a towel around my waist there was a damp rag in my back pocket. Rather than a tube of lube I held a spray bottle of industrial disinfectant. And the tub of condoms I carried (provided by the management) never came near my tool. All this was to clean and restock a recently vacated room so that another twosome—or moresome—could act out their fantasies and we could turn a profit.
All in a day’s work for me, the attendant on duty, the Bathhouse Towel Boy.
The Towel Boy’s call of duty primarily involves freshening up a room for the next guest—changing the sheets, wiping down the floor…and wall…and ceiling—and reporting any illegal or subversive activity. Because contrary to the opinions of certain undesirables, a bathhouse is neither a bar nor a crack den.
Bathhouses are, however, all about fresh meat, and every animal in the joint wants to be the first to sink his teeth into it. Adjacent to the front desk area, where customers check in and out, was where we had the TV lounge. This was the place to sit and assess everyone coming in the door. For once a customer had stripped, wrapped himself in a towel, and locked his belongings in a room, he was entered into a carnal play of hunter and big game.
The better the body, of course, the bigger the star. Men and sex are objectified here to the point that you barely have to utter a word. Simply rely on your instinct and the body language of others, and you’re sure to connect. The person behind the body doesn’t matter. You could have a doctorate in philosophy, but what really matters here is how big and/or hard you are, how tight your backside, and how far you’re willing to go in public. It’s an exhibitionist’s playground and a voyeur’s paradise.
There are always more voyeurs than exhibitionists, though some watchers can be downright pushy. They may feel they have the right to stalk you or may not understand the meaning of the word “no.” If you encounter one of these, don’t be a macho man. This can get you kicked out of the club. Instead, tell an attendant at the front desk. It’s their job to evaluate both your ass and your complaint. Besides, it gives you a chance to see what fresh meat has just come in the door. And remember to flirt with the Towel Boy. A little friendly attention and he’ll do anything for you—especially get the stalker out of your way.
Some other helpful hints:
1. Tip the Towel Boy. He works hard cleaning up and doesn’t make much above minimum wage. You’d tip a lousy waitress, so why not tip an excellent attendant? He’ll love you long time.
2. If you wouldn’t do it in a glass house, don’t do it in a bathhouse. This is not your personal squalor palace, it’s an establishment scrutinized by the board of health for your safety. So keep it healthy. And use a condom!
3. Don’t use drugs. They may make you horny, but they also make you messy and the entire bathhouse knows when you’re high. Drugs can also kill you. I’ve seen many an overdose and there’s nothing sexy about going out on a stretcher.
So now the big question: How often did I get laid while working at a bathhouse?
The job offered an endless parade of exposed flesh and cheap terry cloth. Every so often a brave soul would actually be nude without the towel, but unfortunately it was always the guy who shouldn’t be. (You know, the one who thinks he’s hot as hell but offers definitive proof that some things are better left to the imagination.) Some guys made eye contact; others would ignore me on their way to the next trolling destination. Some would even open the door to their rented room and motion me in, but I’d usually just flash a half-smile and continue on with my housekeeping. The management’s rules were clear: Sex with the clientele could lead to termination. Sometimes, though, when I was thinking with the wrong head, I’d make a detour and step in—just to be polite, of course. It all depended on my coworkers that night and how big their mouths were.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
Just as there’s a certain type of person who can maintain a job in a bathhouse, there’s a certain art to using the workplace to one’s advantage. The stupid Towel Boy is indiscreet and doesn’t last long. The seasoned pro, however, plays it cool from the beginning, forming a mystique that surrounds him like a shroud of abstinence. While on duty, he eschews the wanton ways of the club and his own desires in order to form a level of trust between himself and the management. The guests start to fantasize about this forbidden fruit. Soon he’s revered as a trustworthy employee and given lots of slack with little supervision. Free rein. And with free rein comes reward.
The longer the Towel Boy is employed, the more regulars he will befriend. The ultimate regular, or “Bathhouse Betty,” is a most valuable asset. He spends thousands of dollars a year to get naked in the club, several times per week. He never causes trouble, which makes the management happy. And he knows everything that goes on there—especially those things the average employee doesn’t see. In exchange for information on rule breakers, he gets free lube or something of equal or lesser value.
An ally like the Betty is important when it’s time for the Towel Boy to go sexin’. Even if he sees the Boy slither out of a room buttoning up his fly, the chances are good he won’t squeal because the Betty knows the Boy has the power to get him eighty-sixed, which would leave him nowhere to go three nights a week. It’s a dysfunctional, reciprocal relationship. And it works.
“Service and satisfaction” was our mission at the bathhouse, and I happily serviced and satisfied for two years—on multiple levels. But all good things must end. While the fringe benefits were great, Towel Boys aren’t paid well. And at the end of the day, naked men and hot sex only pay the bills when you're a porn star. Plus, I was ready for normalcy: a decent wage, a 401k, health insurance, and (gasp!) a boyfriend. And with karma balanced in my favor, I ended up with each of those. Just not in that order.
While the job had its advantages, it was a bit like working in a bakery: If you’ve seen one doughnut hole, you’ve seen ’em all. Then again, if you need a doughnut hole—and everybody needs a doughnut hole sometime—then a bakery is the very place you want to be, right down to the cream-splattered ceiling.