Here’s the entire log of sex acts from three different inspectors:


Here’s the entire log of sex acts from three different inspectors:

A 60 to 70 year old male, appearing to be either African American or Hispanic, weighing approximately 175 to 185 pounds, 5’8” to 5’9” tall, with a smooth body and wearing black underwear, shoes and socks performed anal sex on a white male for whom I was unable to provide a full description as he was face down at all times. I observed this act from a distance of approximately 3 to 4 feet. No condom was used.

The document describes “over 100 incidents of high-risk sexual activity involving more than 175 individuals” in various lel complexion,” wear a “cock ring tied up from his boots,” are “naked except for glasses,” and “wearing his underwear around one ankle,” among other things

An undercover city official (usually from the health department, but sometimes from the Department of Consumer Affairs) would visit a public-sex venue multiple times and log observed sex act after sex act, over and over again. The logs contain rich cultural history (before it was closed in 1985, the Mineshaft displayed signs, per a Consumer Affairs inspector, that read “DON’T LET AIDS STOP YOU FROM HAVING GREAT SEX”) and endless comedy. (From an affidavit that led to the 1989 closing of the Bijou Theater: “. I then moved to the basement lounge area and entered the rest room. I could hear a loud clapping noise emanating from one of the bathroom stalls. I moved closer and saw that two males were in the stall. Both had their trousers down and one male was standing behind the other making motions consistent with anal intercourse. The clapping sound was from the couple’s bodies slapping together.”) The vast majority of these casual encounters surely would have been long forgotten by now were they not preserved in an official public record in the driest possible terms. They make for reading that is damn near poignant.

But they are also galling. Whatever point the city once had in trying to curb AIDS by policing these spaces starts to evaporate as you read them in succession. By the time you get to 2007-the year the document Vreeland provided me dates back to-it’s astonishing to read the words of a health official and supposed expert like Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, the deputy commissioner of the city’s DOHMH from 1987 to 2012. In his affirmation he claimed, “This action is being brought as part of the City’s continuing effort to control the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus.” And then: “There are currently highly active anti-retroviral medications that suppress the virus but do not totally eliminate it. Approximately 34 people a week die of AIDS in New York City.” That wording suggests that antiretroviral drugs were failing; in fact, by 2007, there was a growing body of evidence that antiretrovirals were life-savers, not just for the people who took them, but for those undetectable people’s sexual partners.

“It appears that The Studio exists solely for the purpose of allowing patrons to engage in public, largely anonymous, high risk sexual activity. Defendants are operating a facility, the effect of which is to spread disease,” Weisfuse swears in his affirmation.

Vreeland says the constant raids, “forced these parties to become much more unsafe for the people attending them. They’d have to have them in these locations that were super not safe in terms of access and egress.”

This is how a sex-club shutdown typically went down in New York from 1985 on

“You can’t keep somebody from having sex,” Michael Aulito, who has owned and operated Paddles original source site for 33 years in three different locations told me. Though it is officially a “BDSM club,” Paddles offers a variety of gay-themed parties throughout the week (“Straight or BDSM people will not come out [Sunday-Thursday] nights,” he explained), including after-hours parties on Friday and Saturday nights until 7 am.

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