Monday, May 22, 2006

Plato's Retreat

[The good old days.]
Plato's Retreat was a sex club in New York City, owned by Larry Levenson, that catered to heterosexual couples. It opened in 1977, and was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The club was located in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel, an ornate 19th century building corner Broadway and 73rd Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Before Plato's Retreat opened there, the site housed the Continental Baths, a famous gay bathhouse. It moved to 509 West 34th Street circa 1980.

During its heyday, Plato's Retreat was considered the world's most famous sex club [1] and was popular with many celebrities as well as well-to-do couples. As author Steven Gaines described in his book Good Buildings, the club attracted "an assortment of kinky types from the suburbs: dry cleaners and their wives or fat men in toupees with their heavily made-up girlfriends."

However, like other establishments of its kind, it fell out of fashion when AIDS became a concern in the mid 1980s. The club was finally shut down on New Year's Eve, 1985 by the city of New York for violating public health ordinances.

In May 2005, Plato's Retreat was in the news because of allegations made by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt that John R. Bolton, President George W. Bush's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, visited the club and forced his first wife, Christina Bolton, to engage in group sex.


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