Sex talk
Speaking of Backroom Bars

Simon Sheppard,

Some guys like cocktails, while many men crave cock. And at a backroom bar, the thirsty and/or hungry can enjoy both in one convenient place.

In backroom bars, the homo hanky-panky usually happens in a dedicated orgy room, but as one horny homo recalls, "I've been to sleazy bars where the sucking took place in the main barroom, sometimes in a dark corner or behind a little partition or something, and I could literally sit on a barstool and watch the action. And when I felt the urge, I could always join in. I know it sounds sleazy, but it just felt natural. And hot."

One lifelong San Franciscan recalls lusty life in the relatively carefree 1970s: "Back in the old days there were lots of bars – usually leather-ish places, but not always – where you could just stroll in and order a beer, and within minutes someone would be sucking you off."

Since the advent of HIV, though, things have tightened up considerably in plenty of places. Getting it on in a public watering hole is, after all, not particularly legal. Police, health departments, and alcoholic beverage commissions that might once have looked the other way have increasingly busted backroom bars and made sure they stayed closed. (Things are somewhat different on the other side of the Atlantic; Amsterdam, for instance, is notorious for its anything-goes "darkroom" bars.)

At least one guy deplores the decision to shut down sex bars. "Almost everyone who goes to a backroom joint knows what he's getting himself into," he avers. "And it's a lot tougher getting HIV in a scene that features stand-up blowjobs than in some secluded spot where having anal sex is easier, like a sex club – or for that matter, in the home of some man you've picked up in even the most well-behaved bar."

Not everyone agrees, though. One self-described "reformed slut" says, "I can't believe anyone is nostalgic for places where totally dehumanized dicking is the norm. And in an orgy room where guy after guy after guy gets it on with one another, STDs can get passed around with ruthless efficiency."

Should you somehow find yourself in a similar setting – whether a tavern's action-packed men's room, a dimly lit basement in Amsterdam, or a backroom bar that's somehow survived – the usual orgy-going rules apply. Just because a backroom sexfest is a group situation, that doesn't mean everyone is indiscriminately up for grabs. Be polite about who you latch on to and how, and take refusals graciously. Conversely, don't be snobbishly standoffish, and when fending off unwelcome advances, say "no" nicely.

Since you're in a bar, remember that there's a high probability that some of your potential playmates will be intoxicated. Maintaining good manners will make it less likely that you'll find yourself in some drunken, half-dressed hassle.

And if you're going to be a slut, be a conscientious one. Keeping your quaffing moderate and your sex smart will help prevent regret-filled mornings-after. Know the risks of oral sex, and act wisely. And though fucking is fairly rare in most back-of-the-bar situations, it has been known to happen, so be sure to carry that condom along. Frequent STD check-ups will protect you and others, and any possible symptoms should be seen to by a doctor post-haste.

Backroom bars and their carnal cousins aren't to everyone's taste – the hopelessly shy and the thoroughly romantic should probably steer clear. But for many a man, the notion of going out for a beer and getting more than suds in his mouth has at least an occasional appeal.

So bottoms up!

And tops, too.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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