Roman Holiday Spa “Health Clubs” have been added to the list of gay spaces that are forever lost to COVID-19. Both gay men’s bathhouse locations, one at 12814 Venice Blvd in Mar Vista, and the other at 14435 Victory Blvd, in Van Nuys, survived the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and 90s, only to then shutter during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The sister locations were quietly put for sale with zero notice from its owners or any fanfare from the numerous patrons it has served for roughly 52 years.
According trulia.com, a real-estate brokerage website, the Roman Holiday Health Club in the neighborhood of Mar Vista sold on June 18, 2020 for $2,300,000. The 7,377 sqft lot was built in 1950. The Men’s “relaxation” spa offered a dry sauna, steam room, whirlpool spa, showers, lockers, private changing rooms, and sun deck. The business Yelp page lists this location as permanently closed and their website has been shut down. The description states the spa was established in 1968.
The Van Nuys location is currently for sale at the reduced price of $2,100,000. Known as the Roman Holiday Health Club II, the men’s bathhouse offered similar amenities to its sister location with an indoor lap pool, whirlpool, rooftop deck, giant sauna and plenty of play rooms. The real-estate listing does not mention it, but this location was actually two floors, one which was in a lower darker basement area with changing rooms, while the upstairs ground level offered the wet areas. According to their Yelp page, this location is also permanently closed. It was established in 1971.
Both Roman Holiday Spa Health Clubs attracted an older gay male crowd, as well as married men, men who have sex with men (MSM) and overall guys on the down low. To get a gist of what both bathhouses were really like, visit their yelp pages, where the reviews are mixed and the star ratings are split in the middle.
A photoshoot by photographer Dusty Cunningham in THE FIGHT magazine took place at the Van Nuys location in 2015. The photo spread titled At the Baths, include models David Rest who was on the cover of THE FIGHT that month, and club promoter, go-go dancer and Rupaul’s Drag Race pit crew alumnus Shawn Morales to name a few. The models can be seen at various parts of the now shuttered spa.
To view more photos from this session, visit the At The Baths issue at www.thefightmag.com.