Bijou

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  • Orgasm Rating
  • Address 82 E. 4th St. (1st & 2nd Aves.) New York, NY
  • The Bijou, also known as Club 82, is not listed in local gay guides, and that is intentional. The management disguises the club (and its sister club, the Jewel) as a family entertainment center showing old movies. This is in response to zoning laws—instituted during the Giuliani administration—that make it illegal for adult entertainment venues to operate in residential neighborhoods. But despite its low profile and genteel façade, The Bijou is in fact in full swing as a sex club, albeit one of the least palatable places for gay men to have public sex in New York.

    When it opened in 1989, The Bijou was quite a happening scene, combining within its black-painted, dimly lit basement walls a porn theater, private stalls, and several open areas, all of which were rife with sexual activity when we visited. A coffee urn and soda fountain sat atop a bar dispensing complimentary beverages alongside Oreo cookies and lubricated condoms. A raised platform with a comfy old couch and some bistro tables provided a quiet area away from the frenzy where you could chat with a buddy or just sit and watch from a safe distance. Coin-operated lockers provided for safe deposit of your valuables and outerwear while you enjoyed the club, with no time limit on your stay. By 2am or so, the place would be virtually wall-to-wall with guys getting it on one-on-one or in groups.

    Much of that description still applies today, except that the porn videos have been replaced by cheesy old crime dramas and sexual activity is not permitted in the open areas. As before, men populate the private stalls and the corridors outside them, creating a rather grim parade of desperate-looking patrons hoping to get off. The one demonstrable improvement to the establishment is that the bathrooms have been totally renovated, with bright lighting, clean tile, and doors that close. But while clean bathrooms are nice as a general rule, there was something to be said for the grungy old toilets in cramped wooden stalls that characterized the old Bijou—you somehow felt that the sexual adventure continued, even during pit stops.

    The Bijou is largely about sucking dick, or getting your dick sucked. Men in the private stalls generally indicate their proclivities by the position they assume—bottoms generally sit on the hard wooden bench, while tops lean against the wall or in the doorway, one thumb hooked in their jeans pocket, the other hand groping their crotch. Once the door to the private stall is closed, however, anything can happen.

    If The Bijou has any charm, it is in its seedy, glory-hole ambiance. There are certainly cleaner, brighter, better-equipped places to have sex with strangers in New York. But if you like the idea of walking into that private stall, closing the door behind you, and unbuckling your belt without a word as you advance on the man seated on the bench in front of you (or sitting on that bench yourself)—go ahead, knock yourself out.

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