In this year-ago blog post by Trey (aka theTripper), there is an implied side question about the necessity of requiring an ID when going to bathhouses. (That blog post’s main topic is not really about that, but the tangential thought is worth exploring.) I’ve also wondered about that and so I hope this blog post can become a discussion point (especially since a bathhouse owner occasionally reads this blog ).
So, why does one need to present an ID when going to a local bathhouse? And why does one need to sign for a membership? Every bathhouse that I know of in Metro Manila requires membership. Why is that? In Club Bath’s FAQ we have the following Q&As providing clues:
Can I visit The Club anonymously?
No. In order to comply with city ordinances for private clubs we cannot allow our customers to purchase memberships without identifying themselves.
What do you do with the personal information I give you when I purchase a membership to The Club? Will I receive anything in the mail?
The Club is highly respectful of member privacy and we understand the need for discretion. The information you give us is for our records only and is never shared with third parties. You will never receive anything in the mail.
That actually leaves me with more questions. Why does having to visit a bathhouse be in a form of club membership wherein you have to disclose your personal information (as required by the supposed city ordinances)? Local gay dance clubs, gay bars, and gay massage parlors don’t require membership, so what’s so special about bathhouses? I’ve been to a bathhouse outside the country (I’ll talk about that in a future post) and the only requirement was the entrance fee. For ultra-discreet guys, such form of membership is a big turn-off. What does membership really accomplish?
The first possible answer that comes to mind is that the membership is for security purposes. The problem is, I have no idea what the bathhouse needs to be secure about. Does it ensure that the place doesn’t get raided or that prostitution (which is illegal) is avoided? Well, the incident at QP shows that raids are possible, even if ultimately the reason for the raid (suspected prostitution in the case of QP) is baseless.
So what do you think? Does the thought that you have to show your ID and have your personal details stored in the bathhouse’s database scare you?
Update: Check out rudeboy's comment below. It practically answered everything you need to know! And a clarification: I personally have no issues with the ID requirement but I figured that asking it would benefit those who are apprehensive about such things.