The famous (or infamous) Bulldog Baths which opened in 1978 and wwas shuttered less than a decade later due to the hysteria of the AIDS crisis has been awarded a plaque and registered in the National Register of Historic Places.
The plaque reads:
“130 Turk Street, c. 1923. Formerly housed the Bulldog Baths. This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Uptown Tenderloin Historic District.
The Bull Dog Baths in its time was the most famous and most popular bathouse in the Temderloin in late 70’s. But like much of our gay history at that time it has been covered up and slowly forgotten due to the stigma of the HIV – AIDS epidemic.
The Bulldog was the only place of its kin in the world, along with being the largest bath house n the world. And it was no disco twink heaven, no Sir! The Bulldog is strictly mansex with men in a man’s environment. From the truck-driver to the prison guard, from the construction hardhat to the street cop; the motif of the Bulldog brings then all to life.
Physically, its four floors were laid out to grab the senses and direct them toward the proper channel. You entered on the second floor, confronted by the headlights of a semi-rig when you walk in the door.
Below you and reaching up to the second level, was a two story prison tier that was so incredibly real (real cells, real bars, real toilets, real day-room atmosphere) that when you saw a guard standing on the second tier looking down on you, you’re ready to kneel down and get prison fucked.
A mid-level featured the Bulldog version of a hot back room bar, complete with pool table, murals, a flashing neon sign, and a giant video screen that shows a steady stream of sports films. Below that is the Bulldog restaurant where proper nourishment is available at all hours. Yet another truck cab glares its headlights into the glass doors of the restaurant, which by this point, visually is more a truck stop.
There was an abundance of toilets (the private kind) with extraordinary graffiti and artwork, all created by New York artist Brooks Jones, designed to represent four decades of sexual erotica. Jones also created the amazing murals throughout the Bulldog; each seemingly alive tableaus emanating from the shadows. In alot of the private rooms, Jones has created glory holes that can be easily mistaken for the real thing.
The Bull Dog was an architectural playground for the fantasies of gay sexual desires. It is a historic place in gay history and its good to see that the National Registry of Historic Places recognizes that even though many in our own community won’t.