The loss of another iconic institution - Paul Bellini - MyGaytoronto
The loss of another iconic institution 25 February 2018.
With the horrible suddenness that accompanies the news of any death, I was shocked to find out that The Cellar had closed.
Was there a more depraved place on earth? A black door. Steps leading down into a dark basement. All black walls. Corridors with tiny rooms, and rooms with glory holes. It was so dark you could be naked the whole time, although smart people wore footwear, if you know what I mean. That's because at The Cellar, you could jizz anywhere. Most popular was the long dark hallway at the back. When the place first opened in the mid-'90s, that hallway was packed. Imagine, two dozen naked gay men groping each other in complete darkness. The darkness was the point. You wouldn't want to see who was groping you. It could be someone you know, or more likely, a really ugly old man. Lots of guys I'd tell this to would be grossed out, but until you are swimming through flesh, you have no idea what complete sexual abandonment means.
It was gross, to be sure. One night, while sitting in the TV lounge, some idiot took a dump on the floor while standing up. I spent hours watching people narrowly avert stepping on that turd. Once, on New Year's Eve, the fire alarm went off and the lights went on. I couldn't help but notice that the walls had a nice even stain line from all the ejaculations that had hit them over the decades.
When it first opened, everyone went. That's where I met my first boyfriend. The novelty of a sex space - not a bathhouse, although it did have two very unused dry saunas - was new to stuck-up Toronto. It was always a great place to walk off a big drunk. It was fun during the day, too. In fact, when they came up with the idea of the Nooner, which meant discount lockers from noon to 1pm, the place was packed. It was always a bit disconcerting after a busy Nooner, when you're still reeling from whatever the hell just happened down there, and you open the door to the street and are overwhelmed by daylight and traffic noise.
I hadn't been by in years, having settled into a comfortable relationship. But sometimes I miss that spirit of depravity. Another thing I loved as a young gay man is gone, and there ain't nothing like it to replace it.