365 days of play: Hawks bathhouse celebrates one-year anniversary

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Hawks Portland bathhouse Hawks celebrates its first anniversary April 29.
By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Hawks is gearing up to mark its one-year anniversary as one of the city’s leading spaces for men to play. From 7 p.m. to midnight on April 29, the celebrated Portland bathhouse will offer $1 locker rentals, $10 private room rentals, a raffle with proceeds benefitting Our House, games and prizes, along with “live entertainment.†What sort of “live entertainment†does a bathhouse party entail? “Think porn stars, local talent, dancers, maybe even a live sex show,†says Hawks manager Derek Garduno, smiling a bit wickedly. “It’ll definitely be fun.â€
DerekGarduno_Final Hawks manager Derek Garduno
When Garduno talks about his place of work, the term “play†comes up frequently — and in his view, the type of “play†isn’t limited to sex. “Sometimes a guy just needs to get away from his job, get away from the world, and have some fun,†he explains. “A guy needs to play. You can do that here.†While Garduno is emphatic in stating that all male-identified people are welcome and invited to Hawks, he explains the bathhouse in the historical context of gay men’s space. “At one time, bathhouses were the meeting-place for gay men to go because there was no other place.… You basically had either a bar or a bathhouse,†he says. “In my opinion, bathhouses are still a place where gay men can and should come and meet, because it’s not just a place to play — it’s a place to socialize. You can play pool, you can get something to eat, you can chill and relax, or you can meet guys to play. There are so many gay-specific areas such as bars [and] community centers now, but this is specifically a place for men to play and socialize.†While the internet and smart phones have changed the ways that gay men come together, Garduno appreciates that there can be no deceit in the crucible of the bathhouse. “Cruising in public is different from cruising online, because when cruising in public, you can’t hide anything,†he says. “In my opinion and experience, there’s always a bit of skepticism as to whether a person is actually who they say they are or if they look the way they claim to. At a bathhouse, you see the person — you can actually talk to them, and get that physical reaction.†Every dimension of the Hawks experience has been engineered for men’s enjoyment — Garduno even compares the sprawling complex to a huge treehouse — “because after all, what boy doesn’t like playing in a treehouse?†Even the interior architecture works in service of men, attempting and succeeding at creating an environment suffused with the core impulses of maleness; amidst the myriad of private rooms, semi-public sling areas, and saunas, the physical space of Hawks captures the paradoxical masculine desires to be private in a den of one’s own as well as boastful before a crowd, to dominate over others as well as submit to those who deserve it. As the concept of masculinity shifts and evolves, Hawks remains boldly and unapologetically a men’s space — and for thousands of men over the last year, it has been their space to come together, and, well, play. As evidenced by research by Garduno and the rest of the Hawks team, those men then tell their friends. “We did a survey over the past couple of months whenever someone would come in, asking how they heard about us,†he says. “By far, folks end up referred by word of mouth, with the second most common answer being coverage in print magazines such as PQ Monthly.†Take this as a hint, gentlemen — if you find yourself heading off to Hawks’ anniversary party on April 29, tell them we sent you, and play on! Hawks is located at 234 SE Grand Ave. in Portland, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, including dates for theme nights and free STI testing, call 503-946-8659 or visit HawksPDX.com. BlogTail_NickMattos