Do you remember your first time? I can remember quite a few first times, being a youthful same-sex attracted man aged 53 years young.

The first time I tried to ride a bicycle aged around eight, I immediately fell off. The first time I had a real drink at 15 years old, I got pissed and vomited.

The first time I had sex was in a school bus with the driver and it hurt like hell — I swore I’d never try that again. Hmm, how times change!

I remember my first time going to a sex-on-premises venue (SOPV), a bit of a late bloomer aged in my early 30s. I had heard about sex venues and had read a lot of trashy American porn that described the delights to be had within, yet had never set foot inside the door of one.

My impression was that as ‘fresh meat’ I would step inside and immediately be swept off my feet by a deliciously hot man who would introduce me to same-sex delight. Boy, did I have a lot to unlearn!

It took three nights before I built up the courage to actually enter the building. I hung around outside in the street a block away, watching who went in and how long they stayed inside. A few guys made comments when they saw me night after night and a couple tried to pick me up.

When I finally decided ‘tonight is the night’ I was in for a letdown. I paid the entrance fee and after dutifully reading the disclaimer and signing it I pushed the door open — ready to be swept off my feet.

From memory there were about six or seven guys adjacent to the entry. Some were chatting with mates, others reading the gay press. A few looked my way, sized me up and down and then just looked away. So much for the fantasy!

Twenty-odd years later, I can tell just by looking when someone new is entering an SOPV. There is the hesitant stepping through the doorway and the eyes quickly glancing around trying to appear ‘normal’ as they begin to discover the delights of what lies beyond the coffee lounge.

Sometimes a staff member will take pity and, in a sauna, point them in the direction of the change room and lockers or, in a ‘dry’ venue, explain what goes on in the different areas. Hopefully with the internet a lot of that mystery has been explained.

info: The VAC/GMHC has a booklet When You’re Hot, You’re Hot. For a copy, email resources@vicaids.asn.au

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