In the age of dating apps like Grindr, a nearby gay bathhouse is trying to reach young people by advertising student discounts on posters across Ryerson’s campus.
The poster, which shows a nearly-nude man reading a book, is an attempt by Steamworks Baths Toronto to target students and drum up conversation about the club.
“Last year’s (advertisement) wasn’t as graphic,” says John Brodhagen, the general manager at Steamworks, which is located at Church and Wellesley streets. “We’ve found a lot of photos online of selfies with the ad in the background. It’s good for our business.”
The club is offering a free 90-day membership to students with a valid school ID card, and $5 off thereafter. Steamworks Baths also advertises at York University, the University of Toronto and other schools in the GTA.
With the popularity of hook-up applications like Grindr, bathhouses are no longer one of the primary ways for gay men to meet. But Broadhagen insists that it’s still the safest way for men to meet potential partners. “We have staff here 24 hours a day and you’re not inviting strangers back to your apartment,” he said. “We’re not competing with applications because we can’t.”
The discount was created to give struggling students a price break. A regular three-month membership fee is $18.