THE HAUNTED Frontman Going To The Gay Sauna

THE HAUNTED frontman Peter Dolving has posted the following message on his MySpace page:

"The Cockpit, Leeds — yes, it is a shit venue, with crap sound. But everyone who works there are fucking ace and the Leeds crowd is insane. One of the downsides of the place is the lack of showers.

"The show is great, but having had something bad to eat yesterday, I end up having to run off-stage to the can twice to keep from shitting myself. So much for keeping up 'tough guy'-looks.

"Now — as we were driving up the alley to the venue earlier in the day, I notice an advertisement for 'Sauna, Spa, and Massage.' A bright rainbow flag hanging next the advert, so I figure, 'OK it's a gay sauna". Though, to tell the truth, I really haven't got much knowledge of what the hell a 'gay sauna' even is, it registers and all my little prejudice cogs and wheels start ticking.

"As a little background you might want to know that I've been thinking about this for a couple of years. See — being on tour in a metal or hardcore band you mostly play next to, or in, the redlight district, by the local methadone clinic and/or next to the gay saunas of whatever city you're in. The venues are mostly fairly run down and lacking anything resembling hygiene. So slowly, this thought has been growing in my head; 'Sauna = Water = Clean.'

"It makes sense that if there's no shower at the venue I should be able to get one at the 'gay sauna.' Actually it makes perfect sense, except for my own fears. It's that word... 'gay.'

"This time I decide I am not going to be a judgemental asshole, and let my lack of knowledge get the better of me. Sure, in my feeble little mind I see before me dudes with bulging glistening muscles and monstrous throbbing dicks wearing nothing but leather caps and cock rings fucking the shit out of each other. Like Arnold and Carlos in 'Pumping Iron', but endowed like Rocco Siffredi and John Holmes.

"With a seriously sheepish heart I walk up to the door, ring the bell and stutter something about 'shower,' 'band,' 'hello'...

"The lock clicks, slides open and I go inside. As I step into the small lobby, I'm greeted by a small skinny dude in underwear only... 'Oh no! Run away!' says my brain. 'Hello.' says I. I explain to Underwear Man that I just played at the club up the street. Can I get a shower? And are the massage advertised outside, well... 'real?' In my own head I stick out like a sore thumb. Hearing the words stumble out of my mouth makes me feel stupid and I tell my brain to shut up and get a grip.

"'Awrightee then. Come back here in 30 minutes and we'll have you sorted.' I pop back into the real world and realize I now have an appointment for a Swedish full-body massage, and a temporary membership at The Gay Sauna...

"Now for those of you who haven't done this type of thing before, you might find a quick insight of exactly how paraniod and ridiculous I get at this point of the story, amusing. In my mind I am now fully on the way of becoming a full-blown, moustache-carrying James Hetfield cross-cloned with 'Painkiller'-era Rob Halford. Or at least, the fact that I will in 30 minutes be on my stomach, naked with another adult man touching me will have everyone on the tour bus up in full-blown chaotic upheaval. Things will turn sour. I'm done for. Damn it, why, and what is the matter with me? ...

"To my own advantage I must say, one of the greatest parts about being me is that I'm one of those people who actually go through with things I set my mind to. Another is my lack of discretion...

"I get back to the tour bus and proclaim how I, like Neil Armstrong, will take a giant step for, if not mankind — at least myself, by going to the Gay Sauna for a MASSAGE! In response, I get a slightly raised eyebrow, a 'Whatever, man...' and everyone goes on to talking about the weirdest things they've done while intoxicated. The only drama in sight is made up of watching Per inhale the hugest pile of greasy shish kebab and doner meat with chips we've ever seen.

"Half an hour later, I get a key to a locker and a towel, and Underwear Man, whom I will now refer to as Pierre; kindly tells me to go get undressed, shower and take a seat in the room next door and he'll come pick me up. By now I'm in full 'get-it-done' mode. I decisively get undressed, take my white towel that feels 8 times too small and head into the showers. As I shower I'm struck by the fact that this is the first time since I first played a show in the U.K., back in 1994 that I have ever taken a shower in an actual clean, well-lit and fully functional shower room.

"Not only is the place clean, it's also warm. For those who've never been to England you should know England is NEVER warm and clean...

"All the same, I head for a quick sauna — that incidently does not have a carpeted floor, eight different shades of centennial mold horticulture, and is NOT smeared in feces (venues in the U.K. normally are, for some reason...). I take another shower and go wait for my skivvies clad gay usher. He shows up after a couple of minutes and offers me a cup of coffe and I sit there with my coffee; being checked out by some of the older guys there. I feel a little akward, but Pierre (I don't remember his real name because I'm so homophobic at this moment of the story that I can only focus on my coffee, a gay lifestyle magazine, and the information signs on the walls about HIV, STD, and the non drug policy of the establishment.) somehow calms me with his casual Y-front presence, and I'm beginning to feel pretty cool about the whole thing.

"After I finish my coffe, he takes me upstairs and shows me to a massage studio. This I recognize this as a place of neutral ground. Pretty much like anywhere I get massage. Table, towels, massage oil, soothing music. Warm, clean and well smelling. It strikes me how fucking ridiculous I am. I get massage therapy by dudes all the time. But then again, 'They're not working at the Gay Sauna, are they!?'

"The massage is great. Pierre is iron hands and really good at what he does. I tell him about my band and that we just played a good show and that this is my first at the Gay Sauna. I tell him this casually, not wanting to come off as the complete moron I realize I am at this moment. Pierre laughs and quickly states, 'Ah, so you're not gay, are you?' I tell him honestly that I haven't got a clue, but that I'm married to what I believe is a woman and that she's given birth to my two kids with me holding her hand. But I'm nevertheless sick of letting my preconceived notions run my life, besides I really need the massage.

"We chit chat away as he turns my aching body to jelly, making small talk about what it's like being a dad on tour, gardening and I ask him the cruising thing, and how it works. Again he chuckles and tells me that's a matter of discretion, but what clients do in the private rooms is up to them. The Sauna Club is a private membership only.

"After a while I hear some guy moaning somewhere and I ask Pierre, who has now been crowned The Master of Flesh Manipulation, 'Are those dudes fucking!?'

"He chuckles and answers me that 'Well, it does sound like it, don't it?!" I am now baffled, awestruck. This is so cool! 'Holy shit, man! That's what straight people should do instead of getting sloshed at the fucking meatmarket that's the clubs or discos!' Pierre laughs a little at my reaction and tells me, he thinks "That's probably not something that would work...' What do I know right? I'm just the bruised rock dude on a slab.

"Pierre figures women are more into the 'being wooed'-type scenario than the 'Oh, nice mate, let's fuck.' That seems to be more of a male thing. I guess he might have a point, but I tell him he should talk to my wife and her friends about that, because I'm not so sure. But then again — I've been living on a tour bus for more or less seven months now and I might be slipping a bit.

"An hour later I take a shower again and head back to the bus. I'm not feeling notably gayer, but my body tells me that it's greatful for letting Pierre the Underwear Guy do his thing. So today was a cool day, and in a couple more we're all going to see The Stonhenge.

"Oh. Not Pierre — but he'd be welcome, too, if he wanted to."

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