Gayborhood Bathhouse Readies for Its May Re-Opening [UPDATED]
When 40-year-old bathhouse mogul Chris Srnicek began managing the notoriously theft-prone and drug-ridden Club Body Center (CBC) in May 2012, he informed his staff — in an adorable Canadian accent — that he wasn’t about to build a business on “crackheads and shitheads.” But his takeover was halted in August when a gas fire closed down the bathhouse and sparked $250,000 in renovations that spiff up the new digs — now named Club Philadelphia — and, Srnicek hopes, eliminate the club’s seedy reputation.“I want people to say ‘I’m going to Club Philly’ and not have people be like, ‘Ew, why are you going there? Tramp!’”
Srnicek, who is expected to close a deal by summer that would make him the official owner and manager, says the entire building has undergone a bevy of infrastructural upgrades, like a brand-new roof and air-conditioning system, heated floors and re-worked electrical lining. Then there’s the renovations meant to bring the bathhouse more aesthetically up-to-date.
Remember the ’70s-style washrooms? (Of course you don’t.) They’ve been refurbished with Avalon Italian tile and chic countertops. The main room on the first floor, previously decked out in cheesy straight-from-the-Caribbean décor, will boast a simple-and-clean “Martha Stewart” theme. Adjacent to this area and across from the newly beige-tiled foyer will be a contemporary theater room with a small stage for brand-name porn stars and stripper studs to romp around on.
Srnicek also revealed his creative endeavors for the space. “I’m trying to build porn sex — shit you can’t do at home. That’s what I’ve learned in 10 years [in the business],” he says. “If someone wanted to just go out for hotel sex, they wouldn’t need to come here.”
Keeping on his promise, the basement will strip the bathhouse of its gym equipment (though he says there will be a separate, small gym space for guys devoted to “showing off”) and implement a dungeon for dark-and-dirty debauchery. “There’s really no after-hours space for the S&M guys to come and play, so we want to give them that,” Srnicek says.
The general layout of the maze-like upper levels of the bathhouse has been retained but upgraded with amenities that better reflect a 21st-century bathhouse experience. Porn will be streamed on hi-def televisions throughout the club — “the good stuff, not junk” — and there will be a variety of themed areas: an “examining room” for those who want to play doctor; a “slurp ramp”; a room with elevated tiers of circle platforms for the more-flexible; and a glory-hole room with benches for those not inclined to get on their knees for — well, need I say more? (Srnicek also specifies that the holes will be cut into perfect ovals — apparently, all of you round-hole bathroom-stall carvers out there are doing it wrong.)
To address the club’s reputation of theft and all-around uncleanliness, Srnicek has installed high-strength, automatic-locking doors and custom-made lockers in each room. And the bathhouse contains a soundproof STD-testing room on the third floor, where a representative from Mazzoni Center will be stationed for 30 hours each week. The dry sauna has been sanded and scrubbed with cedar oil to eliminate the nose-plugging smell of body odor and bodily fluids.
Though Srnicek is still hashing out the deets of the club’s May 17 rollout, he’s preparing a month’s worth of events to give the bathhouse its much-needed kickstart. “We’re trying to create a fun atmosphere where guys can actually meet,” after all, he says, “Club Philly is Philadelphia’s bathhouse of brotherly love.”
UPDATE: Club Philadelphia opened for business on Fri., May firstname.lastname@example.org.