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The Closing of Chicago’s First Gay Bathhouse

COMMENTARY: One of our members, Alex Kacala, generously contributed the linked story below, which he’d written for an online gay publication Hornet (where he was its editor).

Bathhouses, which historically have had a reputation as being places of debauchery and orgiastic pleasure, were for many years communal gathering places for gay men to just socialize and relax.

Many had restaurants and bars and featured live entertainment. The most famous of these was the Continental Baths in NYC, where Bette Milder and her pianist, Barry Manilow, got their big break and why Bette will forever be in the hearts of so many men who saw her there or heard stories about her shows.


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