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Sunday nights in the early Noughties,  London’s White Swan on my own

Then back to the place of the guy I’d pulled but most times leave alone

Famous for its amateur strip, lads getting out their bum

But most gay guys wanted meat in their eyes, the only reason why they’d come

This one night after last orders and needed bad to feel 

Something more than drunk and heartbroke cos it hadn’t worked this pill 

I went a few doors down, down the road and I went in

To Chariots, there in Limehouse, where my story shall begin

This now closed East End sauna - a game of seeing, saw and seen 

Glances then between gay men through the clouds of mist and steam

How can you forget the bubbles floating in the sauna jacuzzi 

Didn’t care who sucked you off in there, underwater we weren’t choosey

Where to go to see men, in the jacuzzi where we lay 

Bathing in the bubbles of other bloke’s semen. That’s Chariots for you back in the day 


Shoreditch, Farringdon, Vauxhall and the branch there was in Streatham

But it’s Chariots Sauna of Limehouse that I am not forgetting 

With a name as grand as Chariots, one expected at their selection

Bodies of Classical Greek proportions, Renaissance Michelangelo perfection

But there were no Greek gods here, just flabby middle aged queens

Being sucked off by teenage chavs and twinks or at least they were in their dreams 

Cubs and otters and foxes, koalas, pigs and bears 

Wolves and pups and pandas, lounging over sauna chairs 

Chariots was the place to meet animals, animals just like you 

Or where you went at the end of the night to try out something new 

Hot and steamy in the sauna, gorillas in the mist

Downright dirty, deep and  dangerous, like they’re killers you’ve just kissed

Gay men with all their animal names sweating in one cage

No matter how big the tails they had or how many wrinkles they had with age 

What animal you chose to call yourself or what others they called you 

Most called Chariots a sauna, well I called it a zoo 

◄ Beards and Bananas (Hands All Over Mr Grover)

Periscope (with poetry performance film) ►


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Tue 19th Sep 2023 19:16

I like that you said it. raw. the imagery - not just he sex, but the scene and the way to you used metaphor and so consistently to show us the patrons of Chariots. Provocative. ty

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John Coopey

Tue 19th Sep 2023 14:47

Enjoying that, Lee, until the audio cut out just as it was getting raunchy!

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