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Acquired Tastes, Chapter III : Tea Rooms

Nothing makes my heart beat faster than the anticipation of exploring an established tea room; and considering how much I like poppers, that’s saying a lot. Just planning the trek to one gets my Spidey senses all a-tingling. Which is a good thing; keeping alert and on your toes is very important considering all the risks involved with this particular Acquired Taste.

For the uninformed, a tea room refers to a public bathroom where gay men go to cruise one another and have sex under the stalls, in the stalls, or side by side at the urinals or trough. Like going to gay bars and cruising in general, it is an activity which many gay men may dabble in for a period of time as a sort of rite of passage before seeing it for what it is and then moving onto something else. This is true of all Acquired Tastes – just because you dabble in it for a period of time doesn’t mean you become a hardcore devotee.

There is a history to this whole thing, so let’s start there…

Tea Rooms
Scope of Activity:

- having gay sex in a public restroom
- cruising a public restroom for the purposes of having sex there or taking your trick elsewhere

The Official Line:

Tea room is an American slang term. In Britain this practice is known as ‘cottaging’, because at one time public restrooms there resembled small cottages. From Wikipedia:

"Cottage" is documented as having been in use during the Victorian era to refer to a public toilet and by the 1960s had become an exclusively homosexual slang term. The word used in this sense is predominantly British (a cottage more commonly being a small, cozy, countryside home), though the term is occasionally used with the same meaning in other parts of the world.

Although the term is often associated with gay men, it can apply to anybody. The term cottaging is rarely used outside gay communities and as attitudes towards LGBT people become more tolerant, fewer individuals find themselves limited to covert and illicit ways of meeting others.

I still like tea rooms. I like the idea of them; the reality of them? Not so much. Maybe that’s because of our very sexually uptight society and in particular the stringent laws in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Even more than that; I think it is due to a change in my life; I no longer work downtown Minneapolis. When I did, it was a very, very active time for tea rooms in Minneapolis. The skyways were like cruisy parks. All one had to do was know where to go and what to look for.

There are certain telltale signs that help you determine if a restroom is ever used for those purposes – graffiti, peepholes, and glory holes being the most obvious, condom wrappers, cum stains on the walls, and hidden messages written under or on the sides of the toilet roll dispenser or written in the grout of the tile or on the frame of the stall door being less so.

Alas, the internet, a blessing to all gays craving sex, actually turned out to be the undoing of the whole tea room scene. Once sites like Squirt and Cruisingforsex began listing all of the places a gay man could go for a quick blow job or some under-stall action, law enforcement, security companies, and business owners were clued in as well. So in a way, we were our own worst enemies on this one (and glory holes – that scene dried up at the exact same time, but that is the subject for a different post). Of course, without the internet I would have remained fairly clueless, unless I happened to stumble onto an existing scene - which is still totally possible.

Thanks to highly publicized incidents involving George Michael and former Senator Larry Craig, tea room sex came out of the closet with all the grace of a drunken sorority girl - but then tawdry does as tawdry does. The only reason the tea room scene evolved in the first place was due to the general population’s disapproval of gay sex (and because some of us liked the notion of sucking cock in public). Like anything unfavorable, if frowned upon it just goes underground. Things have changed for the better, just not completely (the general poplulation still thinks gay sex is ‘icky’). Still in light of the relative acceptance that greet a portion of the gay community, this practice persists for two reasons – 1/ closet cases and straight men need this type of outlet to fulfill their sexual needs and 2/ some of us faggots still get off on it.

As for those of you who say those of us who engage in this kind of behavior do the gay population a great disservice by perpetuating the idea that gay men engage in perverted shit – I say, get over it. The general population believe even the most vanilla of gay sex is perverted, so if you want to be judgmental, go find yourself a beauty pageant.

Psychological Aspects:

What is the appeal? Getting away with it, of course – pulling the wool over the world’s eyes is always titillating. The very covert and risky nature of this activity lends it an allure impossible to resist for some. Anyone who frequently seeks out and participates in anonymous sex – be it via glory hole, backrooms, bathhouses and the like has most likely visited a tea room to see what it’s all about.

There is also a degree of exhibitionism involved. Sex in a public place always touches upon that part of us that wants to show off or be viewed by others as a total slut. Yes, sex is dirty fun and when we engage in it in a non-traditional manner we become for the moment (however far from the reality of our regular lives) a filthy, dirty little whore. Good for us!

And speaking of filthy and dirty – hey, we’re talking about public restrooms – ones frequented by straight men. Straight men, with rare exceptions, are pigs when left to their own devices. So, I’m thinking those who like watersports and get off on the funkiness of that kind of kink are also attracted to the despicable condition of most public mens rooms – the filth, the smell.

I always think of cruising as “the hunt”, particularly when in a mens room. “The hunt” refers to a cycle of events (Arrive, secure space, seek contact, make contact, engage in sexual activity, reach orgasm, clean up perimeter and leave or remain on site seeking further contact.) that once commenced must be completed or the safari ends in complete frustration. This drive always feels urgent and primal. And sometimes frenetic.

My Experience:
So, it all began in 1995. I was in Iowa, bored out of my freaking skull. I was so bored I took up long distance running, doing a minimum of three miles a day. Despite living at that time in a small town with provincial values and a closet full of closet cases, I was out of the closet and while not rubbing it in their faces, not hiding either. There was a gay bar in Stillwater I began to frequent after about six months of seclusion, but before that my pent up sexual frustration was taken out on a little outhouse at this wayside rest stop situated half way between one middle-of-know-where town and another. I worked that motherfucker like a Coke machine that I had stuck a quarter into and still owed me a Coke. It rarely paid out anything but the slimmest of rewards, but hey, it was all I had. Had I known anything about Iowa, I would have realized there was a big homofest called Des Moines only two hours away and saved up all my loving for one of the bars there. Instead, I did what I could with whom I could at that little rest stop. It wasn’t always pretty and sometimes… (shudder). Let’s put it this way - I did who I had to in order to survive.

After my year of self-exile in Iowa I went to Los Angeles and within a month stumbled on three really hot and happening mens rooms in three separate parks. I was instantly smitten with the whole scene and did all sorts of nasty things in those restrooms (such as this: resulting in me leaving all sorts of nasty goo on those stained cement floors.

At one of those restrooms I ran into the tallest man I have ever played with. I was standing in an open stall (the only one in this particular restroom) with my back to its door pretending to pee. I glanced over my shoulder and in walked this giant of a man. He had to be at least 6’7”, as he had to duck his head in order to clear the door frame. His posture seemed to indicate a man who was used to bumping his head on the ceiling. He paused, eyed the guy standing at the urinal, eyed me, and then walked into my stall, pushing me on my shoulder to indicate I should move to the rear. Moving, my eyes grew big with fear, but he remained oblivious. He had a full head of wild, wispy light-brown hair, a full beard and a manic look in his eyes; the perfect vision of a muscular mountain man who just rode into town to unburden his pent-up nut sack. He leaned against the partition wall separating us from the urinal, opened his jeans, and whipped out a very impressive (10+), half hard, extremely thick, dick. He was like something out of a gay erotic cartoon. The thing that impressed me the most was his attitude. It was raw, direct, and a bit angry.

I should point out that at this particular time in my sexual development I was a hardcore top and wasn’t all that crazy about sucking dick, so, I hesitated. The man then bellowed, “Well do you want to suck my cock or not?” This brought me out of my muted state long enough to drop to my knees and pay the man some lip service. His dick just kept growing and getting harder as I did my best. In a matter of minutes he pulled his dick out of my mouth and spewed a big fat load that shot over and onto the top of my head. After about eight volleys, he bent his dick down, rubbing it ferociously all over my upturned face (punishment?), packed up his stuff, re-buttoned his jeans, and stormed out. I was still on my knees blinking like Tweety Bird as the first stream of his jizz began to run down the back of my neck.

At that same restroom I met this cute, rather average, black-haired guy with the longest set of lowhangers I have ever set eyes on. He was a lot of fun. We kissed and sucked on each other, undisturbed, for a long time. The one thing I learned from playing with him is that there are limits to just how hard you can tug and how long you can stretch a dude’s testes.

Not that my adventures in La-la-land were limited to public parks. Department stores were my second go to source for anonymous restroom dick.

Once, I was at this mall with a friend of mine, we were sort of on a dinner date at the time (I know – I am always SUCH a class act – roll eyes here). He wanted to shop for pants, so we ducked into one of the major department stores. Having to take a piss, I excused myself, telling him I’d be right back. I located the mens room, which was situated at the end of this long, winding hallway. Opening the door I assessed that there was a single sink, a single urinal and a single toilet. At the urinal was a dude a few years my junior. He had bright alert eyes, a mass of dark curly hair, and a mischievous smile. Something went off in my head the moment our eyes met, so rather than head to the stall and shut the door, I decided to “sweat him out”. Sweating someone out in a mens room means standing directly behind them, staring at their backside as they stand vulnerably at the urinal. This is particularly off-putting for the one standing at the urinal when it is obvious that the guy waiting could just as easily use the stall. It’s a dicey gamble, but then that’s true of any mens room cruising. In this case it paid off (it doesn’t always – sometimes you’re just viewed as an annoyance and all you get for your troubles is a heated sigh, an abrupt zip up, the evil eye and a hasty exit), as apparently this guy was just waiting for somebody-anybody to come in so he could show off a bit. It was a lovely show, featuring a nice-sized dick with a lovely upward curve. My offer to give him a hand was refused with a polite, but insistent shake of his head, so I dropped my jeans and began to work my own. He liked what he saw and the two of us worked away at our own dicks with our eyes glued to the progress of the other. It was a hot, sexy, quick scene that ended with two good-sized pools of cum on the floor.

Now this is where I differ from some of my fellow tea room enthusiasts. My cum buddy zipped up and, without washing his hands, stole out of that mens room as swiftly as possible, while I stayed behind to clean up the messes we’d both made, perhaps savoring the sight of his a bit before sweeping it away with a wipe of a couple dampened paper towels. That’s just the way I was raised (not). I rejoined my friend who was at that moment on his way into the mens room to see what was keeping me. I told him the towel dispenser was empty and that it took me forever to dry my hands. Say no more - he bought it, and I never had to.

Three years later I was called home to Minneapolis. After landing a job in downtown Minneapolis, I discovered the internet and it changed everything. Now I could hook up with anybody, anywhere, anytime. It was also a means of tapping into the gay network in order to learn all sorts of useful information, such as which tea rooms were active. For about six years I was in hog heaven. Downtown Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department were on to us, but boy did we cottage queens give them a run for their money. Sadly, one by one,

the really exciting tea rooms sprouted security cameras (right in the restroom!) and coded, locked doors. We got around the coded door thing for awhile; as soon as one of us learned the combinaton we would share it with others by posting it on Squirt and the like. But the locked doors, frequent sweeps, sting operations, and security cameras finally took their toll. Bye-bye third floor Gaviidae (scene of some the most outrageous orgy-like behavior ever witnessed and participated in by yours truly). So long beautiful hotels (The Radisson, The Hyatt, and The Marriott – all the epitome of piss elegance). Thanks a lot, Daytons/Donaldsons, Saks Fifth, and Needless Markup.

During my tenure downtown, I explored every nook and cranny of those skyways, stumbling on probably every restroom open to the public. It was a lot of fun – crazy, stupid fun. I met a ton of really nice guys, a lot of trolls and some not-so-nice guys. One of the not-so-nice guys actually tutored me on how to suck cock. He was this little, short, fair-haired guy with a hot body, nice face, and ghosty eyes. His attitude was a total turn off (he was a total dick), but the size of his cock almost made up for it. Hung like the proverbial horse, I only got to swing on that instrument once, but I learned a lot when I did. He kept telling me what I was doing wrong and actually spent a good deal of time teaching me the ins and outs of cocksucking, lessons which I took to heart.

Gaviidae on the third floor was a real hot spot for a time. All sorts of crazy shit went down there. For some reason I had a number of regulars that I attracted from that spot who all just happened to be black men. Most of the time I would entice them to follow me to somewhere more private (at that time I had all sorts of behind-locked-doors places I could play in downtown), but once, one of my regulars, a really tall black dude with a football player build (defensive lineman) fucked my ass silly in front of about a dozen other guys.

When I arrived, there were tons of guys in the restroom, standing around. The urinal was busy. Both the stalls were occupied. I was going to do a quick sweep and leave – crowds in those types of environments always make me nervous as crowds tend to attract the attention of the authorities. I took a quick peek in stall one; no one I knew, and moved onto stall two. Immediately I recognized my football player and gave him a wink. He was sitting on the can with his dick in his hand. As I turned to leave, the stall door swung open and the football player grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me into him. Towering over me, he peered into my eyes and said “I wanna fuck you.” With that, he spun me away from him. He pushed me hard on my upper back so I bent over just slightly. “Drop those pants.” I was titillated beyond belief. Suddenly I lost all sense of where I was and just obeyed. Sex with this dude was always an artless affair; rough and to the point, and this instance was no exception. By the time he filled his condom, I had caught my first breath and the reality of what I was doing dawned on me like a bad hangover. Brevity in this case was a blessing and once he was done with me, he quickly retreated behind the closed door of his stall, leaving me with my pants around my ankles.

As you probably realize, there are other active tea rooms in Minneapolis that are not downtown and I’m pretty sure I’ve checked them all out: executive centers, shopping malls, gas stations, highway rest stops, etc. If you have the time (for it is a lot like fishing – you wait a long time in between bites, and even when you do get a bite that doesn’t mean you’re going to land that fish) and patience these places can be worth your while. I can’t tell you the number of hours I sat in a stall waiting for Mr. Right Now only to skulk away as horny and frustrated as when I arrived. But thems the breaks, folks. Disappointment is part of the game.

Be sure to limber up before venturing out for some under stall action. Those stalls are cramped, the floors are usually quite filthy (except for the hotels). It’s easy to pull a muscle or twist your back when maneuvering to get that cock from the next stall into your mouth or ass. Although I never had the pleasure, I’m sure that it was much easier and more comfortable back when tea rooms featured nice sized glory holes, but those days are history.

Keep in mind, in Minneapolis and St. Paul tea room sex is not only frowned upon, but it is also illegal. I know for a fact that there is one police officer in particular who despises this activity so much he spends his days off trying to entrap the clueless, working downtown Minneapolis like a meth-head hooker. This officer is also under the mistaken impression that all homosexuals are pedophiles. You can talk until you’re blue in the face and point out all the statistics that say otherwise, but this motherfucker believes what he wants and treats us all accordingly. So be careful out there. By sharing a few experiences about my time as a tea room queen I am in no way endorsing this activity. It’s dangerous and unlawful. But then, so are most of the activities I seem to be attracted to these days.

My Conclusion:
I am not sure why I grew out of my fascination with tea room sex, but I’m fairly certain it had to do with my change of jobs – lack of outlet/lack of proximity. I’m now fairly isolated and stuck in my office throughout my work day. Occasionally I get to steal out and hang out at a nearby park known for cruising, but that’s the extent of it. That particular park keeps all its restrooms locked year round (dicks). Yes, tea rooms still exist. They are just not what they used to be and I don’t frequent them much anymore.

Next Week: Exhibitionism/Voyeurism

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