Spending Christmas 1971 at the Continental Baths

I wonder how many people actually spent December 25, 1970 taking in the scene inside the Upper West Side’s infamous Continental Baths?


According to this Village Voice ad from December 23, “the world’s most liberated club” was hosting a special Christmas show (ladies admitted at 11:15!), and then a New Years’ celebration as well.

AnsoniahotelOpened in 1968 in the basement of the then-faded Ansonia Hotel (right) on West 74th Street, the Continental Baths was a “sexual Xanadu”—a place where gay men in towels could dance, socialize, and be entertained by not-yet-famous Bette Midler (and her piano player, Barry Manilow), Nell Carter, and Melba Moore.

The Baths operated until the mid-1970s, when it was rebranded as swingers’ paradise Plato’s Retreat. Perhaps they too had a Christmas Day special?

This New York magazine article from 1973 offers a detailed look inside “New York’s most Weimarian nightspot.”

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4 Responses to “Spending Christmas 1971 at the Continental Baths”

  1. velvethead Says:

    Liz Torres! I always enjoyed in All in the Family.

  2. realeyezlife Says:

    that’s the ansonia…love that building…many a gangster lived there…bugsy siegal had an apartment on the 9th floor 🙂

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I love the mafia angle, thanks. Here’s a little more about the Ansonia, when it was stripped of its cornices for scrap metal during World War II


  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    from Queer Street by James McCourt, The Rise and Fall of American Culture 1947-1985. 2004 Norton. A huge, thick book but very well worth it, I like it very much, still reading the 500+ pages..

    “Eleanor Steber, its star, a great gay icon right down to the 1970s when, a resident of the fabled Ansonia Hotel at 73rd Street and Broadway, she came all the way down in the elevator, in a gorgeous recital gown, and sang to the men in the then-regnant Continental Baths, joining such successor luminaries as Bette Midler and Holly Woodlawn to constitute a triple goddess of quality queer vaudeville.”

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