I just wanted a few good regular clients. I had never blended my massage work with anything remotely sexual. Nor had I ever so much as glanced at the erotic services section of Craigslist.
But one day it came to my attention that many "providers" who should have been posting in the erotic services section were posting in the therapeutic section. I wrote to Craig Newmark. He assured me that Craigslist would be more vigilant in removing misplaced ads. But for some reason, after that, I kept looking at the erotic services section. I never would have expected it, but reading the ads had begun to turn me on. I just want to pause here in part because I can already hear the voices of my detractors and also because I don't want to appear insensitive to any human suffering.
I recognize that I'm a privileged, educated woman who could have done many things for a living, but opted to do sex work largely because it was exciting to me. I recognize that there are women who do it reluctantly and out of necessity. I recognize that there are also women who are forced into doing it.
I recognize that violence against sex workers and indeed against all women is a real threat and a dark shame. However, this piece is not about that; this is about me. And what happened to me during the fall of was that boundaries I had heretofore firmly established and carefully guarded were becoming blurred. The combination of financial need, dissatisfaction with my love life, sexual frustration and some age-old fantasy that was stirred up in me from God-only-knows-where was taking over.
The first time I had sex with a client it was entirely unpremeditated. A runner training for the New York Marathon, he'd come for what I thought would be a therapeutic massage. I was encouraged when he'd contacted me. I already had a number of regular clients who were distance runners and I found them to be very reliable -- the best of my clients.
He was trim, nice looking, clean-cut, but seemed a little nervous as I led him into my apartment. I tried to crack a couple jokes to set him at ease, then instructed him to disrobe and get onto the massage table -- underneath the towel, face down. The usual massage therapist schpeil. I left the room. When I returned he was in position, so I began to massage him. I moved the towel out of the way and tucked it in slightly to cover his buttocks. Then I honed in on his legs since, from my experience with runners, legs are usually the trouble spot.
His were long, lean, well-muscled. But instead of relaxing, he continued to seem uncomfortable, squirming a little on the table, shifting his head in the face cradle. Perhaps I had been spending too much time on his legs. I began to massage his back and then his arms.
But when I started to work on his hands, he suddenly grabbed mine and clasped them in his. Now, it's not like anything like this had never happened to me before, but ordinarily I would have quickly diffused the situation. What made it different this time was that a little jolt of sexual arousal had seized and overwhelmed me.
Maybe I had been thinking about it too much, maybe I had actually already unconsciously resolved that I would do it, but the next thing I knew, I was on the table, naked and he was massaging me. When it was time for him to leave, he asked me how much he owed me.
Now it was my turn to feel uncomfortable. I knew that I had given him extra, a lot extra although we didn't have intercourse and I wanted extra. But I was too ashamed to ask for it. It had been easy, pleasurable even. I would move on from there to greater and greener pastures.
I read the erotic services section almost everyday, until I found an ad I wanted to answer, an ad for an ongoing arrangement. He was offering a very tidy sum: I figured I had nothing to lose so I answered it, almost expecting to not hear back. When I did, I was floored. We had an email exchange over the course of the next few days. He wrote that although he was for the most part happily married, his relationship lacked "passion" and "eroticism.
I became even more intrigued. I sent him a series of incrementally more revealing photos with the head cropped off -- a virtual strip tease. When he asked to see my face, I told him that I'd have to talk to him on the phone first.
He called from a real number, his work phone. The conversation reminded me of conversations I'd had during my internet dating days: I told him about some of my art and writing projects. We agreed that we would meet in public first and if I felt comfortable, I would give him a therapeutic massage.
Through our communication, I'd grown comfortable enough with him to invite him over. I fretted all day and changed my outfit several times in anticipation of his arrival. When I opened the door, he had a jacket draped over his arm and bemused expression on his face. He was in his mids, very conservative looking, wearing a pin-striped oxford shirt and tidy, pleated khaki trousers. At first I couldn't tell if he thought I was more or less beautiful than he'd imagined I'd be.
But as we settled in to what would become our customary positions in my living room, I knew from the intensity of his gaze that I had him "hooked.
In a sense, I was "hooked" too. He was, although pleasant looking and mild-mannered, a little bit dull. But I loved playing the seductress, I loved feeling him in my power. Exciting him excited me. The fantasy spurred me on. We talked for a fairly long time and by the time we got down to the nitty gritty, I was very aroused.
But though Amy's massage parlor had huge massage oil bottles in each room, the oil never found its onto customers' crotchular regions. That's because oil dissolves condoms. And Amy would always use condoms, no matter what the client said. So here's how the scenario really plays out: After a few minutes of totally dry massage, Amy would ignore the props and reach for her hidden purse, which held lube and condoms for the actual sex.
You can't legally advertise sex services in Canada. So Amy's parlor was in an office building, and it only advertised massage. The signs didn't even use outlines of women or garish neon, and the inside didn't look particularly sexual.
Dimmers controlled the light, and Amy had to adjust them to set the mood. The music, as she puts it, was "a cheesy massage calm-soothing-water CD" -- a spa soundtrack, with nary a porn riff in earshot.
Still, most people who entered understood what the place was truly for. Here's the way it's supposed to work: The client pays a straight fee for a "massage" -- this money goes to the parlor, not the masseuse. The client strips, showers, gets on the table and under a towel, and Amy gives him a preliminary rub-down not a real massage, since they aren't trained for that. Then she asks what else he wants, he tells her explicitly, and it's understood he will give her a "tip" for said services, which she keeps.
The towel comes off, and she takes it from there. But the guy sometimes just doesn't respond. And it goes something like this:. Any other parts that way? I can do anything you want, you know. We went through the massage and small talk, and I made no money from that. One time, a woman came in. This customer wasn't looking for a lesbian massage sorry, fellas , and if she had been, Amy's not sure what she would have done.
Instead, the client simply lay there with her towel on, picking up no weird vibes at all. It was just a woman that came in thinking, 'Oh my, this place is a steal! But remember that Amy, despite her experience in rubbing people as foreplay, has no expertise at all in real massage. The woman "likely had one of the most meh massages of her life. I hurt more now Go see a dom.
Too poor for a dom? Go see a masseuse! The second-class experience will embarrass you both, but for some customers, it's the best option. For example, a shy client once asked Amy to tie him up, which is rather vanilla, as fetishes go. But he didn't have any rope. Either he was too cheap or he plain had no idea where to buy any. So he produced a tiny pair of shoelaces, perhaps taken from a battered pair of his own sneakers.
Another guy, a repeat customer, was into golden showers, but Amy's bladder was never prepared. It's like when you force yourself to cum after jerking off. It hurts and just plain sucks. At least her stubborn urinary sphincter eased this part a bit.
But even if Amy sometimes laughs at her own performances, clients go away satisfied. Like the one guy -- 6'2", lbs. He wanted to stay clothed during the piggyback ride, and he wanted the rider clothed as well. As a variation on this, he was up for the lady doing squats while he perched on top of her. Look, I needed to do it. Most people are all about the in and out, but the quirky ones are my favorite.
There are other, less strenuous ways to cater to client fantasies. For instance, clients always want women who are foreign or from far away, since that's what a masseuse is in their minds.
Asians are very popular, since an Asian masseuse is a familiar stereotype. Black girls are popular, too. Still, Amy made do.
She simply pretended to be "European. She'd be "Kim" the foreigner. I would be a naughty girl saving up for my education. Clients always want to hear a nice story about yourself so they can feel like they are doing a good deed. This worked well enough for the most part.
Then, one day, the guy walking into the reception area happened to be one of her old classmates, from back when she had been a schoolgirl. Amy gamely pretended not to recognize him and dug out her European accent a "European accent" is foreign in a conveniently nonspecific way.
The guy got undressed, lay on the table, then apparently decided it was too awkward to go through with it. First he pretended to fall asleep, then got up and loudly claimed he had been robbed. Finally he fessed up, leaving the room and muttering, "Sorry we were so horrible to you in high school. We described earlier the rather convoluted payment process clients have to go through.
There's a reason for that. In some places your Amsterdams, your Nevadas , prostitution is legal and regulated and taxed. In plenty of other places, it's flat-out banned. Between those two, you've got places where you can legally have sex for money, but can't do much anything else associated with running the business.
The goal is to crack down on pimping and other forms of exploitation without hauling sex workers themselves to jail, and managing that gets messy.
In Britain , for example, you can accept money for sex, but you can't advertise your services, run a brothel, loiter on the streets, or "incite" prostitution. One law bans being " found in a bawdy house " yes, the Canadian legal term is "bawdy house," which is appropriate, given that Canadian judges dress like Santa Claus...
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