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Witnesses to Tell the Story of NYC's Legendary Continental Baths: VIDEO


Director Malcolm Ingram (Small Town Gay Bar, Bear Nation) is at work on his next project, a documentary on NYC's most iconic late 1960's, early 70's bathhouse, which was housed in the former site of the Ansonia Hotel.

Writes Ingram on his Kickstarter page:

The Continental Baths was a seminal gay New York City hotspot that existed from the late sixties to 1974. The baths themselves were a lavish Roman style affair, which were opened in the late 60’s in a newly post-stonewall NYC. Owner Steve Ostrow wanted to create a decadent and luxurious clubhouse where newly liberated men could explore with wanton abandon.

Along with the baths, The Continental was home to glamorous shows that attracted first class performers such as Cab Calloway, Peter Allen, Wayland Flowers, Patti Labelle and a then unknown Bette Midler, who (with her piano player Barry Manilow) became ringmaster to the revelry.

Ingram's looking for some funds to wrap it up, and he's almost there, so if you're interested in hearing the stories, help him out.

Watch him talk about the film, and see a few brief clips from his interviews,

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  1. Opera singer Eleanor Steber gave a recital there as well. It was actually recorded on RCA Red Seal. I have a copy of the LP. It was a formal affair, black-towel concert. I kid you not. The name of the album was "Live at the Continental Baths" and there was a photo on the back cover of men, in black towels, listening to her.

    Posted by: Tessie Tura | Aug 8, 2012 7:23:14 PM

  2. Here's a link to the Steber LP:

    Posted by: Tessie Tura | Aug 8, 2012 7:25:18 PM

  3. While I think that this might be an interesting documentary, where's the glory in it? No wonder STD's and AIDS spread through the New York scene....

    Posted by: jason | Aug 8, 2012 7:28:36 PM

  4. a "seminal" gay hotspot? Ouch.

    Posted by: Prof Sancho Panza | Aug 8, 2012 7:41:02 PM

  5. @JASON You truly are despicable. Did you not read that the place closed in 1974 when we didn't know about HIV/AIDS? Nobody had any clue what was to come and your comment was profoundly insensitive, offensive and outright inhumane to a generation of men who perished without even knowing the hellish nightmare that was about to be unleashed upon them. Your amazing lack of compassion is jawdroppingly disgusting. I pity you.

    Posted by: Ark | Aug 8, 2012 7:51:57 PM

  6. This sounds like a great doc. Can't wait to see it!

    Posted by: solice | Aug 8, 2012 8:15:17 PM

  7. I think bathhouses and sex clubs are very damaging to our community. Straight people think we are all about wild, risky sex with strangers. It's another reason they think we are a threat to the status quo.

    Bathhouses are a major reason HIV/AIDS & other STD's are spread so quickly within the gay community. It's still happening today.

    We should close these bathhouses down - we should not be trying to promote and glamorize them in movies.

    I don't want the world to think all gay men behave like out of control, wild animals with no morals.

    I have a real issue with my local gay paper here - they complain about the rise in HIV/AIDS but then take advertising revenue from the local bathhouses.

    It's time gay people took responsibility for their own behavior.
    WE, not politicians, are the reason STD's are still way, way, way too common in our community.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Aug 8, 2012 8:32:57 PM

  8. That's a pretty building. Is it used for apartments now?

    Posted by: Diana | Aug 8, 2012 8:51:03 PM

  9. That building is at the SW corner of Broadway and W. 74th Street. It was used as the location for the film "Single White Female." It is condos now, with some holdover renters. It's a fabulous building called The Ansonia. Flo Zigfield used to live there, along with a lot of other musicians...because the walls were very thick and you could practice during the day and not disturb anyone.

    Posted by: Gal_Friday | Aug 8, 2012 9:15:52 PM

  10. @ICEBLOO

    So you're reasoning is that if we close these establishments down, then the straights will look favorably upon us? Honey, their opinion isn't going to change if we don't ever have sex again. We're not puritans and we should stop thinking that it's shameful to engage in sex in adult atmospheres. That's what they're for. What's wrong with being human?

    HIV and other STDs are spread due to people being irresponsible. You think closing down these places is going to stop that? No. People get HIV and STDs from hooking up in their own homes all the time. These buildings are not the problem.

    Also, why pretend that gay people are the only ones who engage in hedonistic behaviors? Care to explain strip clubs? Peep shows? XXX theaters?

    We're human. We have sex. It's time to stop fooling ourselves.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Aug 8, 2012 9:28:48 PM

  11. *your not you're

    Jeez, grammar.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Aug 8, 2012 9:31:58 PM

  12. @ICEBLOO

    I hope we are a threat to your "status quo."

    Posted by: jimsur212 | Aug 8, 2012 10:11:46 PM

  13. This is wonderful. I've recently been going through a lot of correspondence from the 70s, and realizing how significant the preservation is.
    For people who have a problem with it: No society has ever come up with a good argument for the suppression of history.

    Posted by: coolbear | Aug 8, 2012 10:53:55 PM

  14. I believe it would be a great documentary.
    Mind you for those under 60 years of age...that particular time period certainly is generational. ---and you had to "be there" to experience "a time and era"

    The ONLY major health issues was the normal STD's ( so was the understanding )

    There were of course unfortunate horror stories "after it closing". My friend was
    hacked to death --and was the dear friend of part of it's management.--- a few years after the movie " looking for Mr. Goodbar".

    I heard of only hysterical funny stories about the place. It was a place for expressions...acceptance.

    I prefer to "hear/ remember- the stomach aching laughter stories".

    The afterwards and horrors of HIV- AIDS and murder----I dread those memories.

    I prefer the laughter and wonderful people.

    It was a "place in time"--imagine the most freeing feeling you ever had and multiply it by infinity.

    Posted by: anthony | Aug 9, 2012 12:00:19 AM

  15. There are plenty of comparable heterosexual institutions that would be considered immoral by the average American...swingers clubs and websites like Ashley Madison. The only difference is those things are often ignored because heterosexual people are usually in control of the media and political narrative.

    Another example of this phenomenon is the rhetoric of divorce as it relates to the "sanctity" of marriage. Marriage is sacred and must be protected from us; but, it's not sacred enough to force heterosexuals to live up to those sacred vows.

    Posted by: alex | Aug 9, 2012 12:12:51 AM

  16. I like Malcoms work. I'm looking forward to this.

    Posted by: SgtSausagepants | Aug 9, 2012 12:25:40 AM

  17. Great idea for a film! Good luck with everything. Cant wait to see it.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Aug 9, 2012 12:29:11 AM

  18. I rarely agree with the posts by Icebloo but I agree with everything he posted above.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 9, 2012 3:30:21 AM

  19. I think it's aspect of our history that hasn't really been covered. It's refreshing to see coverage of gay life before the AIDS crisis.

    Posted by: millerbeach | Aug 9, 2012 5:14:49 AM

  20. Gee, it's a "legendary" place where gay men learned to have loveless sex. And where they managed to create a pandemic of venereal disease. Not HIV, but Hep A, Hep B, Hep C, amoebas, syphilis, etc. Let's all celebrate!

    How pathetic. The early 1970s was a unique opporunity to create a positive culture based on love and respect. Instead, that generation created a culture based on promiscuous anonymous commercialized sex, with catastrophic results. We are only just now starting to move out from under the legacy of this error.

    Posted by: Tim | Aug 9, 2012 6:20:34 AM

  21. I just love how people are such revisionists !

    As if multiple STD's EXCLUDING HIV ENTIRELY all by themselves, are incapable of killing you !

    Repeated exposure, repeated treatment, and somehow people think this was ever OK ? It was NEVER OK, the ONLY reason people thought it WAS, was because SO MANY Gay "activists" of the era were deluded and claimed that STD's were some sort of badge of honor.

    If you refused to take part in this suicidal group delusion, you were, and to some extent, and to some extent even today still are considered to be some sort of prude, "self-hating homosexual", etcetera.

    It was an unsustainable lifestyle. Learn your history, learn about what urban gays were doing, pre HIV era. It wasn't pretty, it was never healthy, it was disrespectful to themselves and one another.

    Blaming the lack of love and acceptance from mommy and daddy and the world will only get you just so far.

    This BS revisionism about how a small group of people recklessly spreading STD's to one another in a small pool of people was somehow no big deal is an overt and outright lie. It's a justification for living your life like a child that takes no personal responsibility for your own health. And "the community" was, and is to some extent even now, built upon this lie.

    How could anyone born after the 80's even have HIV now ? At some point you have to stop making childish excuses. And that's where we are now. Either you accept the excuses and march like lemmings to the HIV specialists, or you render the need FOR them entirely obsolete.

    I'm sorry to say it, but the choice is YOURS to make - don;t blame me for having made the right choice, and for refusing to pretend that some people are not making the wrong ones, and suffering the consequences of those choices.

    Either you want it, or you don't.

    Nobody's forcing you to expose yourselves to STD's, of which HIV is merely one.

    There was a time we chose to express ourselves exclusively via our denial and our sexuality.

    People, that time is OVER.

    Posted by: NVTodd | Aug 9, 2012 7:23:54 AM

  22. now I hope someone will do a similar commemorative video of the Gaiety "Burlesk", another Times Square icon until the early 2000's...Not to be forgotten!

    Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2012 7:42:37 AM

  23. Shame you can't be arrested for attempting to transmit sanctimony.

    Posted by: TD | Aug 9, 2012 8:27:10 AM

  24. It isn't sanctimonious to empower people by refusing to lie to them.

    It isn't sanctimonious to insist that we, as a community, EVOLVE.

    The choice to take risks is entirely yours to make. Do not pass off your playing the lottery, and losing, as something worthy of emulation.

    It's killed, and will kill again.

    Posted by: NVTodd | Aug 9, 2012 8:57:53 AM

  25. In the 1970s who was "GAY"? Was it you sanctimonious b.tches who were in the closet, or weren't even born yet? WHO WAS OUT?

    I'm glad I found these Gay blogs 6 years ago. They have taught me that there are a lot of Gay people who I do not have to like or feel a sense of unity with. Gay folks include small-minded b.tches just like everybody else.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 9, 2012 9:17:53 AM

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