21 Apr Don’t Be Shitty: 5 Bros Not To Be In The Sauna
Public naked time can be stressful enough for some guys without you making it extra weird.
It’s a well known fact that I’m a big fan of a sauna. I love the Russian Baths in New York. I really really love Steamworks in Chicago. I’d go back to the Pleasuredrome next time I’m in London. I even really loved the shitty sauna/steamroom combos at New York Sports Club and used to review them here.
But I know not everybody is as comfortable in those spaces as I am, and the most common response when I talk about what it’s like is “Ohh, no! I could never!” My reply is that the only way one gets comfortable in a place like the Russian Baths, is to go. You gotta do it and see what it’s all about and whether or not it’s for you. There’s no way to research it in advance and really understand what a day of casual male nudity, all-male company, and light, covert sexual engagement feels like. Or to really understand how great your skin is going to feel after that heat and steam!
But there are some things you can do to help ensure you have a fun day, and avoid ruining it for everyone else. The most common problem that one runs into in places like this is obliviousness. This seems pervasive in nearly all sauna or steam facilities, and is truly baffling because it doesn’t seem to be tied to age, race, cultural differences, or sexual orientation. Guys are just sometimes oblivious!
I’ve narrowed it down to five types of totally unaware sauna guys who often seem like they’re working their hardest just to make it uncomfortable for everyone around them. Here’s:
5 Bros Not To Be In The Sauna
These guys are the worst guys. Every one of these guys on the list is gonna be bad news, but nobody makes people as universally uncomfortable as the Looker. He’ll peer into the window or glass door of the sauna before entering, almost like he’s shopping. While I love being naked in places like this, I don’t love feeling like some sort of zoo animal. Looker Bro will waddle into the sauna, stop directly in front of the door (obliviously blocking it from anyone trying to enter or exit around him), and stare. And not a quick, casual glance to see if there was anyone he might have recognized. He will stare like he’s trying to count the pubes on each guy in the room.
And it is uncomfortable as shit. Once a Looker Bro has been identified by a group, it’s easy to watch every single person’s body language change when he enters the space. Men cover themselves with their hands or their towels, physically turn away from him, and some get up to leave.
The Looker Bro doesn’t talk, doesn’t try to make friends, doesn’t even attempt to communicate that he’s looking for a group jack or some play. He just. stares.
The Loud Bro comes in lots of forms, young and old. But his common characteristic is that he has a lot of loud announcements to make to the group for no reason. These announcements often come out of nowhere and sound as though they’re part of conversation, but usually no one has asked him anything, or is paying particular attention to what he has to say. He doesn’t even need to be speaking to a specific person – just wants to remind himself what his own voice sounds like:
“I’ve been coming here for 32 years, if you can believe that! And it is just not as hot anymore as it used to be…”
“Yeah, I figure I’ll do this for five more minutes and then go upstairs and smoke some pot. Maybe get something to eat…”
“This is the first time I’ve relaxed in six months! I’m from Texas and I just don’t even...”
Meanwhile the rest of the room tries to decipher whether they’re obligated to respond or can let this go by and hope for the quiet to resume. Be warned, though: if you try to offer a friendly “oh,” or really any attention at all, this behavior will continue until either you or he leaves the room.
The Assualty Bro doesn’t reveal himself until there’s some kind of jackin’ action going on, and he decides he’s gonna take part. He will plant himself on the lower bench, directly between your knees without asking or even really acknowledging that you’re there. Or he’ll push through other people and past open seats to ask you to move over so he can sit right next to (read: on top of) you.
Then the hands start. Even though an ordinary person wouldn’t persist without some kind of eye contact or general acknowledgement of their presence, Assaulty Bro thinks this is all part of the game. He will touch you, grab your genitals, and try to kiss you, even after you have removed his hands moved yourself away from him, and repeatedly said “c’mon. Stop this.” Even after you think you’ve ended it, sometimes he’ll return after being shunned by the guy on the other side of him.
His touch and his technique are pretty universally inelegant and rough, leading me to believe that the common thread amongst these guys is a serious lack of actual experience. These are guys who have watched a bunch of porn (or maybe taken some classes) and think they can substitute that for actually learning how to engage with someone in real life.
They don’t often generate any real trouble or problems, and get frustrated and bored after a few rejections. But occasionally they’ll flounce out with a “what’s your problem, man! Fuck you!” before they go.
This is the guy that most people imagine populates every sauna in all of Christendom, and by whom they’re (strangely) most intimidated. The Showoff Bro is relatively harmless and tends to wander away when he doesn’t get the attention he thinks he’s entitled to.
Often, the Showoff Bro will come into the sauna, stand just next to the door, and then stare down at his feet, or out the glass window. In his mind, this is an opportunity for everyone to look at him and soak in whatever he thinks he has going on; sometimes a great ass, nice abs, a poorly concealed semi. Meanwhile 90% of the rest of the room is trying not to laugh and waiting for him to stop blocking the door.
The only time these guys get really unbearable is when they meet another Showoff Bro who meets their bizarr-o standards. Combined they often both become Loud Bros and fill the space with a sense of entitlement that makes it even harder to breathe than the eucalyptus steam.
But one Showoff Bro is frequently no trouble and you can usually share a laugh about him with the group after he’s decided he’s had enough of everyone soaking in his awesomeness.
Married Masturbator Bro
This is the guy my heart goes out to, but who I never wanna run into in the sauna. The Married Masturbator Bro usually has the body language of an uncomfortable child, a large and prominent wedding band, and seems right on the cusp of being entirely overwhelmed by everything that’s happening. He came here for one thing, and one thing only: to jack off with other guys. He’s done the mental calisthenics and that’s “not cheating” and he’s “not really gay” and also he really really wants to kiss you but will tell you “I don’t kiss,” and leaves as soon as he ejaculates.
Separately, I don’t have any problem with those traits, and have a deep empathy for men who go through their lives filled with desire that is never directly addressed. But when those traits combine into one guy who emanates an aura of self loathing that spills out in his body language, his neediness, and his unwillingness to be a real participant (won’t kiss, often won’t touch others, or does so begrudgingly, is dismissive of attention from men he deems ‘not hot enough’), he becomes an elephant in the room that makes everyone simultaneously feel badly for him, and also wish he would leave.
The takeaway from all of this should not be that you can’t be yourself in the sauna or in spaces where male nudity and the adjacent sexual nature of that nudity are prevalent. But that you should really pay attention to how you present yourself, and even more than that, how you ‘read the room,’ in these spaces.
If you see elements of your personality in anything I’ve described here, ask yourself how people are responding to that when you’re naked and in the moment. Are you getting the feedback you want? Or do you find yourself feeling ignored or experiencing hostility (either from within towards others, or from your sauna peers)?
Even if you have a great time at the Russian Baths with me on Thursday afternoons, is there anything you think you might do to ‘tone it down’ and ensure everyone around you also has a great time?
A chance to be casually naked and see a fresh crop of new penises while you relax in the steam can be an exciting one. But there are ways to do it that will help you and your brothers feel more comfortable and accepted, and will likely lead to you getting what you came for: whether that’s to stroke some cock, or sweat out the week’s frustrations, or melt into a rough, manly massage (or, like me, some combination of those three). Come in, have a seat, and be kind to the people around you.
Be a bro. Just not one of the ones I described up top.