I used to prefer paying men to give me a rub down, as opposed to women, whom most often get booked at massage places. Always a fan of the underdog, I knew the male masseur was never an option for straight, often homophobic males, and never optimum to women who not only fear being naked in front of a stranger of the opposite sex, but fear what else permitting physical contact while alone in a room with one might put on the table. That was never a fear of mine, however.
Perhaps it was severely overshadowed by my knack for finding the silver lining. Men had something to prove in the massage world - not all of them were straight, they had schedules far more open and conducive to my sporadic one, plus, they have stronger hands! So, to me, the male masseur was merely a hidden gem; an untapped resource I couldn’t wait to capitalize on.
After about six months of seeing the same masseur we’ll call Donovan, at the same massage place we’ll call Massage Jealousy, things started to progress in our relationship. As my body grew more loose and limber, so did Donovan’s professionalism. He became more friendly, asking about my hobbies outside of playing pretend (a career he knew I was in upon seeing my work), and he learned what, outside of my everyday stress, was responsible for most of the tension in my lower back and shoulders. Eventually, I learned some things about Donovan too, like the fact he was my age, single, and very much straight.
I wasn’t necessarily more or less tense regarding this revelation, despite the fact it’d come shortly after sharing my hobby of pole dancing with him as a possible reason for my muscle pain, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t immediately on alert. Still, not wanting to be part of those who profiled straight masseurs as sexual deviants in a convenient hunting ground, I continued to see Donovan until he gave me reason not to.
“Are you comfortable with a glute massage?” he asked one day. He insisted tightness in the “glutes” was a common cause for most lower back pain. Against my better judgment, I consented to having him massage my ass, though I suspected he might be taking advantage of the situation. But, my trust in his study of Kinesiology and experience with Massage Therapy, outweighed the trust in myself and my inexperience with the opposite sex.
A few weeks later, he worked my “glute” again, this time including my inner thigh where his fingertips brushed up against my vagina. If I’d inquired, I’m not entirely sure what kind of muscle pain he might have told me pussy tightness was linked to but I wasn’t entirely sure it had been intentional, either. As much as I wanted to confront him, I couldn’t. It was too quick a motion to determine intention, and I didn’t want to embarrass him. Yes, you read that correctly - as embarrassing as that is for me to admit now.
“What if it had been an honest mistake?” I thought… “One he’d immediately regretted and felt bad about?” I didn’t want to draw attention to it and make him feel worse. Word to my equally naive readers, if something like that had been a mistake, he would have immediately apologized. But it wasn’t, so he didn’t. And by keeping quiet, I was only allowing him to take it a step further the next time. That is - if there had been a next time.
While I lacked the confidence to say anything about it then, I at least had enough sense to never return to Donovan or that location of Massage Jealousy again. Still, you can’t blame all for one, which is why I continued to see different male therapists at different locations, and why I’m going to share with you a second story, more horrifying than the first.
Once upon a Saturday afternoon in sunny Los Angeles, my friend Mercedes went to get a much needed massage at an elite establishment. In the usual ritual, her masseur left the room for her to get undressed, and she was face down in the headrest when he returned a few minutes later.
After a half hour, a different type of pressure was applied. The masseur’s hands veered off Mercedes’ body, and curious about the interruption, she opened her eyes in the delay. What she found was another eye on a different kind of head, staring back at her. She immediately pulled away. The masseur stood shamelessly in front of her with his pants down, his erect penis poking out underneath the headrest.
“Um, that’s not going to work for me,” she said, in horrified disbelief. He was, literally, caught with his pants down and immediately apologized.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. He removed the headrest from the table. “Is that better?”
“No,” she clarified, still in shock. “The problem is not that the headrest is in the way, the problem is your that your dick is out and you’re expecting me to do something with it. That’s not going to happen.”
“Wait a second…” I said, interrupting the story as she retold it, “If anyone should have been expecting to get a happy ending here, it’s you - the customer! Did he honestly think you were going to pay $180 an hour to blow him?”
By this time, while I was older, wiser, more jaded, and with a better developed appreciation for comedic irony, I was still equally horrified and bothered. The only thing I found more disturbing was the fact that even at forty, Mercedes didn’t know what to do. She laid back down and let the man finish her massage. He may have put his one eye away, but for the remainder of the session, she kept one of hers open.
When I asked if she reported him to his employer afterward, the response was eerily familiar, “I didn’t want to embarrass him,” she said. “And, I didn’t want him to lose his job because of me.”
“He would have lost his job because of him,” I clarified. “What you shouldn’t want is to excuse that behavior enough for it to happen again - and with someone else.” Regret for my own inaction was working overtime to influence and encourage action from her. The next day, Mercedes called and reported him.
After hearing her story, I decided I’d no longer be willing to get massages from a man. It’s just too risky. Plus, employing someone based on their sexual orientation, even in this scenario, is still borderline discrimination.
If you’re thinking you can’t blame all masseurs for two, you’re right… Just like in baseball, it takes three strikes, and you’re out…so, here’s story number three, as told by Selma Hayek herself, which explains why, ala Shark Tank, I’M OUT.