“To the left of me,” wrote David Colker for the Los Angeles Times in a 1994 article, “four men were having sex. Only two of them were actually looking at each other.”
So begins most bathhouse stories of the time. At the Compound, one of the Valley’s oldest establishments, porn would screen on the walls while patrons got it on in public (or private) rooms below. But not for long. Even in 1994, the gay bathhouse’s days were numbered.
“A decade ago,” Colker writes, “Los Angeles boasted slick, high-tech bathhouses famous throughout the gay world. But as the specter of AIDS darkened the mid-1980s, the baths came under fire as places where unsafe, multi-partner sex spread the disease.”