Bathing Beauties

As your typical pervert, I walked into the Pussy Palace expecting to see wall-to-wall naked women going at it. As it happened, I walked into what looked like most any other lesbian bar I’ve been in: There was a DJ, women dancing, a grope here and there and some hot necking. 
I checked my coat along with my fantasy at the door and set out on my first lesbian bathhouse experience. 
Started two years ago by a group of women who wanted to know if women could enjoy the bathhouse experience the way gay men did, last Thursday night’s event was the fourth edition of Pussy Palace in two years. 
I’d never been to a gay bathhouse, though I’ve had gay male friends explain the experience. I too was dying to know if women could engage in the kind of anonymous, purely physical sex gay men enjoyed at the baths. 
Obviously about 300 other women had the same idea. In fact, the event has become so popular, tickets sold out within the first half-hour. 
So yes, it was ladies’ night at The Toronto Club, though pin-up posters of beefcake guys on the walls served as not-so-subtle reminders of what usually goes on in the bathhouse. 
Beyond the sweaty dance floor, other women sweated some more in the sauna. Outside in the pool area women bobbed around with nothing but their pool noodles. All that was missing were some umbrella drinks. 
The second floor was a little more cramped, with a couple of larger rooms and smaller private rooms lining the walls. 
A small knot of women was gathered around a scene in the “fun room.” I moved closer. A large leather swing hung from the ceiling and in it was a woman in the midst of a veritable squirtfest. I wondered if gay men cheered when someone in the bath shoots a particularly impressive load. 
The third and fourth floor contained more private rooms and was labelled S/M friendly. Some women sat around in one room watching porn videos. Things seemed pretty tame and quiet. I suspected (and hoped) plenty of action was going on in the closed private rooms. Despite my burning curiosity, I decided barging in to any one of them would be rude. 
And rude was definitely not part of the Pussy Palace etiquette. In fact, I couldn’t help notice women, “Oops, sorry”-ing and “Pardon me”-ing their way from room to room and floor to floor. Miss Manners would have been proud. Plenty of clean linen, safe-sex gear and free pizza added to the hypercivility of it all. 
In fact, it was a little too civil for some. 
“No one’s really making any moves,” more than one woman complained. 
Girls will be girls. 
I headed to the bar for a beer. 
I walked up to the bar just as the bartender was having a recycling crisis. Waiting in line, well into a discussion of the quality of vindaloo one can find in Toronto, I looked up and saw five guys making their way through the crush of variously clad women. I thought for a second they might be really butch lesbians but it was obvious they were plainclothes cops. They had that look of cops trying too hard to look like regular guys. 
The air suddenly felt thick with testosterone and a wave of urgent whispers rose through the four floors of women at the Toronto Club last Thursday night: “Party’s over.” “The cops are here!” “Make sure you’ve got your bottoms on!” 
After a thorough and seemingly satisfactory examination of the organizer’s liquor license, the cops still weren’t satisfied. 
For the next hour or so, I traipsed from floor to floor of the Pussy Palace behind the four cops while they desperately looked for something to pin a charge on. 
I watched them go from room to room, trying not to look flustered by the bevy of babes and bare breasts. Several times they whispered to each other and sniggered like teenage boys who suddenly find themselves in the girl’s locker room. Aside from the occasional jeer from women who were offended that the police didn’t send female officers, the women acted like perfect ladies. The organizers were cool as cucumbers and very, well, organized. 
When the cops reached the fourth floor for the umpteenth time, the leader of the pack, Inspector David Wilson, clearly thought he’d hit the jackpot when he spotted a photocopied 8_-by-11 sign on the wall that indicated the “porn/photo room.” 
He pointed to it like it was the devil and repeatedly grilled a rather unassuming volunteer about it: “What is this? Where is this?” 
Clearly, he thought he’d uncovered some kind of underground porn ring. 
It turned out to be one room where women could watch porn videos and another where women could have “my night at the bathhouse” souvenir Polaroids taken. 
Wilson harrumphed, confiscated the sign as “evidence,” stomped off downstairs with his entourage and left. A few minutes later, three officers returned to the bathhouse and proceeded to search private rooms. They stayed in one room for almost 20 minutes questioning the two women inside. In another room the officers questioned a woman and attempted to look through her personal belongings until she objected, at which point they gave it up. 
The organizers had had about enough. They told the cops that they wouldn’t answer any more questions without a lawyer present. Finally, the cops left for good. 
“Good the cops are gone, now I can shove that broomstick up your ass,” Miss Squirt Queen joked once they were gone. 
“Yeah, you can bet there’s not much sex going on in this building now,” laughed another woman. I stayed for a bit and wandered around. 
A couple of lovely winged creatures were trying to keep the spirit going with the “Cupid board.” They paint a number on you and then when you see a woman you like, you post her number and your number on the Cupid board and hope she sees it and finds you. 
“Things are a little slow,” a rather dejected Cupid tells me. 
I still enjoyed walking around, talking to women and feeling comfortable. Maybe because I wasn’t looking to get laid, I was able to bask in the all-female environment, the nice feeling you get when a bunch of women can hang out totally at ease, naked or not. 
At press time, no charges had been laid and it was still uncertain whether there would be. The lesbian community is organizing against what they feel was an inappropriate action on the part of the police. 
The cops are saying this was a routine liquor-license investigation of an event with a special-occasions permit. 
But critics say this is bullshit. 
“It is not routine to check out SOPs,” says Toronto City Counsellor Kyle Rae, who is openly gay. “In fact, police rarely check out SOPs. When was the last time you went to a wedding or a bar mitzvah and had a police officer arrive?” 
Last year, similar raids led by the same officer, David Wilson, occurred at the Bijou, a gay bar where several men were arrested for indecent acts during a so-called routine liquor-license inspection. 
“Dave Wilson thinks the gay and lesbian communities should be like the straight community and the straight community does not have bathhouses,” says Rae. 
“Women have talked about the experience since as a real violation,” says Janet Rowe, one of the bathhouse organizing-committee members. “The intent of the bathhouse is that we create a safe environment for women to explore their sexuality,” adds Rowe. “This is certainly not something that is encouraged in the world in general so to try and create it and set it up so that it’s safe and then have this happen – to have the cops walking through, questioning them, knocking on doors and seeing them scantily clad made them feel really violated.”