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January 25th, 2006 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Cock Blocking

What killed Portland's newest queer sex club?

     
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What if a sex club opened and no one came?

In a First Amendment-loving town like Portland, where porn is as prevalent as greenspaces and private intimacies are displayed in public, that seems very unlikely.

But that's what happened to Club Glory, which closed its doors in December after being open for just 10 months. Glory labeled itself as a sex club for men. Lying somewhere on Kinsey's continuum between a bathhouse and a dirty bookstore, this membership-only club was essentially a big room with lots of gaping holes in its walls (a.k.a. "glory holes"—hence the name).

Located on Southwest 13th Avenue, at the corner of hip (shop owners call the 'hood SoBu) and happening (leather bars, rock clubs, sushi), Glory's building also holds the distinction of once being home to an atheist center and the recording studio where the Kingsmen recorded "Louie, Louie." And just six months prior to Glory, this warehouse-looking space was home to another queer-centric sex club, XES, where rumors ran rampant that too many female "patrons" forced its closure.

So why did Club Glory shut down?

"I wish I knew. I'd still have a business," says Glory's owner Fred Morris. "The weekends were busy, but it sort of petered out. There wasn't enough support in the end."

Although I'm certain Morris had no idea how funny that all sounded, I do know he was unwilling to discuss the exact details of the club's closure due to the fact he's trying to get someone else to pick up where he left off. But before he completely clammed up, Fred did share with me the one thing I believe will make it hard for sex clubs—straight or gay—to allow their freak flags to fly for much longer: "The Internet has a big part of [the sex business]."

No shit. Why waste cash on a membership—which implies you're horny as hell and willing to pay for the privilege of hooking up with dudes—when it's so much easier to do a couple double-clicks on your home computer and, voilà, there's a big, throbbing dick standing at your front door? When I did a quick count last Thursday there were already over 100 new posts that day on craigslist.org's "Men Seeking Men" section—that was at 3:45 pm. By midnight there were another nearly 100 posts seeking anonymous gay hook-ups.

Today, the Web provides the perfect cloaking device for our most private desires. And like any cloaking device, it can blind us to what's really happening.

You see, you don't have to agree whether sex clubs should exist. In fact, I'm sure religious zealots get a new set of wings every time one closes up shop. But with each closure we need to realize we're losing more than just one more glory hole in the wall. We're losing our right to congregate in the "church" of our choice. Hell, due to cultural norms, having to avoid our queer selves in our public lives is tough enough, but if everyone ends up trying to hide their true selves behind big walls in private, too, then what's the point of living in the first place?

 
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