Members Only - The private life of the gay and bi-sexual, male sauna

Westthorp, Michael (2019) Members Only - The private life of the gay and bi-sexual, male sauna. IE:Studio (4) . pp. 33-37. [Article]

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Members Only - The private life of the gay and bi-sexual, male sauna.

'Space is a pressing matter and it matters which bodies, where and how, press up against it. Most important of all is who these bodies are with: in what historical and actual spatial configuration they find and define themselves.’ Elspeth Probyn

This paper will explore the typology of the gay sauna, focusing specifically on one of London’s largest and most visited - Pleasuredrome. The author designed this venue and therefore is in a unique position to discuss this hidden and private world. Looking at the interconnection of sexual spaces and sexual identities, where the inconsistent nature of societal acceptance towards homosexuality is offset by closures in, along with the tightening to secrecy around, the sauna scene. Pleasuredrome, open 24/7, 365 days of the year, offers many of the standard facilities of this type of venue, however it is unique in its operation. Customers use the space as hotel, restaurant, bar, gym, nightclub, washhouse and Grindr meet-up joint, staying for up to 12 hours at a time. As it never closes, the venue is at times a refuge, at times a party space. The design attempts to reflects this paradox. The act of coming out implies a spatial imagery, moving from a private closeted stance to a more open one with public acknowledgement. The space's threshold, designed to be open and have a conversation with the streetscape, subject to an arson attack during construction, conflicts with the interior becoming more hidden, more private. Entry is very controlled, privacy and discretion remain paramount. The secret world, always populated, is an island site under a railway, part of the city, yet removed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: IE:Studio, Issue 4: The Hidden Interior
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design > Fashion and Interiors
Item ID: 26242
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Michael Westthorp
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 12:04
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2021 14:54

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