Melbourne Beats

Reflecting on the seventies and eighties it was easy to say gays lived an unsavory lifestyle, but there was no justification for taking the high moral ground. Sexual instincts needed to be dealt with in some way, and if a socially acceptable outlet was not available, most found socially unacceptable alternatives.

When chatting with men who were active from the thirties through to the eighties, they rarely showed guilt about their lives; remorse only occurred when caught out by the law.

In my early days toilets were popular places to have homosexual interactions and there was a good chance of meeting someone who was ready, willing and able. In modern times, most of those meeting places have been closed or upgraded to prevent unsocial behavior, but I hark back to those years with a sense of nostalgia.

The most famous was known by all as the ‘Flower pot.’ Located in the central city. It had a bed of roses above the structure, but below it could be a culture shock for the uninitiated.

If those walls could speak they would tell of politicians, policemen, thieves, conmen, tycoons and celebrities and endless stream of ordinary folk.

Located opposite a Catholic cathedral, while the pious prayed to the divine, below ground, gays were also on their knees paying homage to pagan sources of mystery and wonder.

Those dens of inequity witnessed an endless stream of men who needed some form of relief, and judging by the number of return visits, they got what they came for.

It was exciting and at times wild, and as the most popular meeting point, there was rarely a dull moment. Men parked outside and watched or chatted with friends discussing events, police movements, bashers and thieves.

Another toilet about a mile away catered for the morning shift and blue-collar workers. It was known as the Bermuda Triangle, as some were seen to enter and never seemed to resurface.

Patrons within a hotel overlooking the stairs gambled for beers based on how long a man would remain underground.

Gamblers recognized me as a regular and those that bet on a stay of more than five minutes usually won. Sometimes the police arrived and a stream of men emerged and those betting on a short visit did well.

One day a man called out, “Cops coming!” That call cleared the place of annoyed visitors, but I reckon it was a sting operation to win a few beers!

Another toilet was known as the thirty nine steps, and I never knew why, as there were about fifteen, but looking at that busy social hub, it could have been named the ‘sixty nine’ steps.

A toilet located under the railway bridge known as the ‘Viaduct,’ was well patronized, but it was also a place for attractive police decoys to gain entrapment experience.

Some old wrought iron urinals were also popular but risky, as it took only two steps to enter. I was sprung a couple of times by surprised strangers, and fortunately they were not cops.

Every type was encountered, from the dangerously young to old frail men, and everything in between. Thieves and pickpockets visited and one day I was confronted by a man who claimed to be policeman and wanting an immediate payment for my indiscretions. Sensing he was a fraud, I said I was broke and he would need to take me to the station. That worked as he soon left.

There were dozens of toilets in the city known for gay activities but only a handful remain With more choices in modern times, they have lost their importance, but they seemed a necessary thing before the eighties.

There are still old-fashioned facilities in suburbs and country towns, so I manage to pay a visit when travelling, just for old time’s sake.

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