Guess Who Went To The Continental Baths?

Categories: Sex

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The Continental Baths was the steamy 1970s gay sex haven at the Ansonia Hotel, which came complete with a performance space for rising stars like Bette Midler to entertain the toweled gays in between orgasms.

Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram is doing a documentary about the place, and he's done an amazing amount of research that's uncovered some fascinating facts.

For example, guess who he told me was spotted once in the pool?

Alfred Hitchcock!

The ultimate voyeur!

And no, he wasn't casting Bette for one of his movies.


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21 comments
Geraldeena
Geraldeena

Just doing research for my NYC memoir and remembered being there when I was in college!  My bi-sexual boyfriend from school, an ex-MP returning from Vietnam and working his way through college was employed there a few nights a week. He was also a music teacher in a grade school and we were both musically talented. I played piano, he sang and danced. We loved Broadway tunes and he swore that the woman and man playing there were going to soon be famous.  I took my Swedish girlfriend because I was feeling shy about watching the show surrounded by gay men in towels. The minute I stepped inside I was averting my eyes.  What a great time.  Bette was great but at one point when she was looking around she looked down, spotted me, I was so nervous I must have had this dumb, pasted on smile and she called me on it, she said hey, you there, with the pearly teeth. I must have melted into the floor I don't remember another thing except how fab she was and Barry Manilow. www.Geraldeena.com for my book coming soon.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

I think Ynnocence is not thinking of a Hitchcock film at all, but Brian DePalma's 1980 "Dressed to Kill," starring Michael Caine as the cross-dressing serial slasher.

"Understandable," as Billy Flynn sings in "Chicago," because DePalma was going through a  Hitchcock phase at the time. (His 1976 "Obsession" was a "Vertigo" homage.).

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

SD, the aptly named Movielover got it in our exchange above. DePalma I think was doing a Hitchcock hommage - and for longer than before or after the obvious Hitch adaptations. All his major movies have a suspenseful shower sequence, and the few times he departed from film noir he went corny-humanist flat. He reminds me of the other Hitchcock disciple across the pond, Claude Chabrol, who also maintained a weird inspiration to the very end. Then of course there's Polanski, who's gifted but more like a character in a Hitchcock movie.

Movielover
Movielover

Being the Movielover, I love his movies and tv shows too.  He had a definite interest in gay men.  Maybe not to get it on with them, as he did have a negative body image and that's probably why he was more of a voyeur with those icy blondes.  He is said to have told Alma that if not for her, he'd have been gay, but as I recall the quote was more like "poofter."  In his movies the attractive villain is usually gay-seeming.  I can imagine he would actually like to do research by looking at the gay fellows and what they do and how they are.  I read he went to Germany after WWII to film and research the murderous people who were still there and what they did atrocity-wise but was never able to use the film or research for anything.  Of course a population that widely went serial murder on civilians would be an interesting phenomenon to him.  Maybe he never did anything with it because it would be next to impossible to include any humor.

latenitebump
latenitebump

i hope they include two black legendary native new yorkers in the doc. djs larry levan and frankie knuckles! 

Punkeisha
Punkeisha

Chile, all the black and brown people will be completely erased from the Hollywood version, as usual! They even eliminated us from the Revolutionary War films despite a black man, Crispus Attucks, being the first to die for this country!

Blackwax12
Blackwax12

and the one person to stand up to the police, first, back in 1969 stonewall who paved the way for gay liberation as well was a black (gay) man! also, the history/orgin of the west village scene! black and gay!

GoodForNuttin
GoodForNuttin

I hope they can get pat buchannon to play Hitchcock in the movie.

mjm
mjm

 I think Anthony Hopkins is cast as Hitch.

and I just read somewhere that *drumroll* Scarlett Johansson is playing Janet Leigh. wtf?!?!! somebody call Jamie Lee!

mjm
mjm

I read somewhere that Mick Jagger and David Bowie came in to see one of Bette's shows. and a certain Mr. Travolta was a regular in his pre-fame years.

originally the Harlettes were called The Red Light District when they performed at the Baths and consisted of Melissa Manchester and Lorna Luft. 

Brad's Boyfriend
Brad's Boyfriend

"Attention, boys, there's an 73-year-old thang in the pool...."  Yeah, like that would draw 'em in.  "Sorry, Bette, I gotta take a break.  Somebody else, play the piano for me for a bit.  I gotta take a swim."

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

I do not believe for one nano-second that Alfred Hitchcock went to the Continental Baths.

This guy was hot for icey blonde women and was so uptight in his private life about sex of any sort that it wasn't until the end of his life that he even verbally hit on one  -- 'Tippi' Hedren, the star of "The Birds" and "Marnie."

Hitchcock  cast some very good gay actors  -- Farley Granger, Montgomery Clift, John Dall (okay, maybe he wasn't all that good) in his films and at least two of his movies have barely disguised gay plots: (A VERY early one features the famed female impersonator/trapeze artiste Barbette!)  But Hitchcock's idea of fun with a gay actor was inviting Montgomery Clift to dinner, plying him with wine and liquor and watching him pass out into the soup.

Nureyev, yes. He would do anything with anyone, anytime, anyplace.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

Hitchcock dared to go places where no other director of his stature would attempt. And even with a long career he never ran out of steam. It's entirely possible he'd, well, rejuvenate himself if only for the sake of his art by inspecting these proscribed spaces, just as he finally acted out on his fetish for blond broads. (In one of his last films, in fact, the blond was a guy - and a serial killer. A very queer twist, considering what that signified for his previous work.)

Movielover
Movielover

Was the movie Frenzy?  Serial murderer in England who lived with his mom?  Strangled girls with neck ties.  Though he did fuck them too.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

You got it. I kept wondering why I couldn't square off the memory with Family Plot, Hitchcock's last. There, I definitely remember, the blond was a woman (who wore a wig? unsure about this) - but also she was still the villain in the story. What amazes me is how Hitch managed to be so fun and inventive to the very end, and I suspect he might have had a lot of dark corners to draw inspiration from. Scorsese and Spielberg should be panicked into taking lessons from him, pronto. (Forget Lucas, who died in the '70s and was reborn as a video-game arcade.)

mjm
mjm

according to one of his bios, he went to a gay club in Berlin with his wife Alma in the late '20s (was Dietrich there? lol)

Musto
Musto

Hitch was probably doing research--but on what, I'm not sure.

nostradavid
nostradavid

"Research" - the all-purpose alibi. Hitch just loved to make cameo appearances.

normadesmond
normadesmond

gotta say i'm surprised scotty bowers didn't fuck alfred.

Musto
Musto

Oh, and Nureyev was there--and not just in the pool. And not just once.

Bwaybill
Bwaybill

Why, Alfred, you old perv!!!

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