In a high-profile strip just off Faulkner Road lies “what’s not talked about.” Many think businesses like this are a symbol of a bygone era when gay men had no other options to meet other men. But they’re alive and well and all over Atlanta. You can call them “social clubs” or “swingers clubs” but most know them as “sex clubs.” And we’re taking you inside.
Manifest4U is a private club that provides a legitimate service – a service that continues to be in demand. They also provide meeting space for AID Atlanta and Positive Impact to conduct outreaches.
The club is located in-between a church (New Covenant) and a club (Jungle), which is appropriate considering it’s part sanctuary/part social outlet. “We just try to keep a positive influence,” says Manifest4U founder Louis (he declined to provide a last name). “Sometimes I feel like I’m the cruise director. I try to make people feel at home and let everybody know that they’re welcome.”
After showing your ID to the attendant in the lobby and forking over the $15 for your visit (member dues are also $10 for six months), you walk down a hallway with signs saying “Believe. Hope. Imagine.” and “Faith. Hope. Love.” Soothing music creates a tranquil environment.
Manifest4U has a computer station for members to use to get people off their home computers and out meeting people. Following the computer station is The Coexist Lounge, a relaxing, feng shuied room with leather couches, hardwood floors and a wall of mostly nude-photography-books to peruse.
It all seems like your neighborhood spa, until you see the painting of Batman kissing Robin, and you know you’re about to enter…The Matrix. The open air room is filled with multiple sectioned areas no larger than a standard 1/2 bathroom and partitioned with plywood. This large backroom is where the action happens.
Each hallway of The Matrix is labeled with street signs with names familiar to any gay man – Stonewall, Castro, Halsted, etc. You notice peepholes and glory holes drilled into walls. A sling hangs in one larger room. Condoms, lube, mouthwash and hand sanitizer are provided.
The Matrix is the area where most people not familiar with such places get squeamish. But think about this: the same guys who wouldn’t think twice about meeting a stranger online and inviting them into their home in the middle of the night scoff at the idea of sex clubs and bathhouses. Which is truly more dangerous?
“When you’re in here it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from or what you believe,” Louis says. “We’re all here for the same reason – to be with each other.”