Skip to comments.Cleveland health officials scrutinize opening of new bathhouse (OH)
Posted on 07/16/2006 6:55:39 PM PDT by DBeers
CLEVELAND - City health officials want the owner of a new, upscale gay bathhouse to provide condoms, offer customers regular HIV testing and appoint employees to answer questions about preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The Flex club, which is scheduled to open next month, will become part of a chain of six bathhouses extending from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Plans for the 50,000-square-foot complex inside a defunct Greyhound bus depot feature three pools, two saunas and a gym and include 110 cabana-like spa rooms equipped with cots and televisions, 18 hotel rooms and a restaurant.
City leaders say the club could help spark the economic revival of a desolate commercial block, but they also worry that the bathhouse could fuel a growth of HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
"I think it's going to be a big mess in the not-too-distant future," said William Tiedemann, AIDS director for the Cleveland Department of Public Health.
Last year, an 11-year-high 118 new HIV diagnoses were reported among Cleveland residents, according statistics gathered by the city health department. As of Dec. 31, 2,458 Cleveland residents had been reported as living with HIV or AIDS, a rate of about 514 per 100,000 residents, and about four times the state rate.
Two of every three Ohio cases of HIV/AIDS occur in men, and homosexual sex is believed to be the source of many infections.
Charles Fleck, founder and owner of the Flex club, said he's concerned about health and safety at the club. He said he wants to work with the health department to ensure that customers are protected.
"Look, I'm a gay man," he said. "I went through the entire AIDS saga, and I am still going through it."
City leaders want to review Fleck's policy of evicting members caught using drugs or soliciting sex. They also want Fleck to sign an agreement outlining other guidelines.
City Councilman Joe Cimperman, who learned about the project 18 months ago when an architect contacted the city zoning board, said he has few concerns. Cimperman said he asked about public health measures and was told that condoms and prevention messages would circulate throughout the club.
Public health officials and AIDS activists in Cleveland said they aren't opposed to bathhouses. Research has shown they are a valuable and convenient venue for promoting safer sex practices, and AIDS organizations acknowledge that the clubs are safer for gay men than cruising other areas, such as parks.
Flex will compete with a smaller gay bathhouse, Club Cleveland, located in the same area. Club Cleveland has always provided HIV testing and free condoms, said owner Ray Wolf.
When Flex opens, it will become the fifth bathhouse in Ohio. The Flex and Club chains both have branches in Columbus. A bathhouse in Toledo is independently operated.
Flex's other location are in New Orleans and Phoenix.
But, but, it doesn't matter what queers do behind closed doors. Just ask any homophile, they pay their own way.
Excellent point. We certainly don't see billions spent on fighting tobacco-smoking related diseases. We all know altering the perverted behavior is key to improving public health. We tell smokers to stop smoking. Uh, can we tell queers to stop the queer behavior and you won't get AIDS, Gay Bowel Syndrome, and the other dozen or so related diseases.
A big part of me says, let em spread their HIV.
heh-heh. Well, we still celebrate their poetic return every March. C'mon down, get some mud on your shoes, have some pancakes at the elementary school. That's what we call a good time out here in the sticks.
Oh yeah. They weren't hard to spot, either.
Not anymore...It was shut down a year or two ago IIRC.
If you kept your lunch this long, take a gander at this bath-house expose:
In case of link inoperation, just go the www.thestranger.com and look up Christopher Frizzelle's "Bleak House"
BTW, I avoid Seattle like the plague.