As gay acceptance rises and hooking up goes online, US bathhouses adapt to stay in business

Associated Press

Gay bathhouses that once remained in the shadows to stay in business are now seeking attention to keep their doors open.

Some are doing aggressive online advertising and community outreach. Others tout their upscale amenities like plush towels and marble baths. A bathhouse in Ohio has even added hotel rooms and a nightclub.

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Owners say greater acceptance of gays in society has helped lessen the need for bathhouses.

Gone are the days when bathhouses drew crowds just by offering a discreet place for gays to meet, share saunas and, often, have sex. In the early 1980s, they were vilified for enabling promiscuity and helping spread HIV.

To attract younger patrons, some bathhouses offer steep discounts, cutting admission by as much as 60 percent.