Our friend T joined us for coffee this morning. She's a local massage therapist, mom and all around awesome woman. Massage therapy is a passion for her but she does run into issues from time to time. The problem is this: There are clients that still see massage therapists looking for more than a rub-down.
Flora: How often would you say you get propositioned at work?Maybe hearing straight from a therapist will make people think twice.
T: I'd say 80% of my male clients say something.
Flora: And how do they ask?
T: They'll call and ask if we use draping (cover them with a sheet), or if we give a sensual massage.
Flora: So how do you respond when they ask?
T: Well we have to clarify what they mean because sometimes even women will ask if we give a sensual massage and they may just be thinking of a Swedish - some people call those sensual. And honestly, we will use a drape as small as a towel sometimes, but we have to just tell them, yes we drape.
And we post our pictures in our advertisements so they'll call asking for specific therapists - "I want the girl with the blond hair" etc. That's a dead giveaway.
T: Twice I've had a client laying naked and face up when I came into the room. Once I just put a towel over him and went on with the massage. The other time I said "I'm sorry I think you got the wrong idea. I'm going to leave the room and when I come back I need you to be face down, under the blanket. But I hear a lot of stuff like "What's the matter, aren't you comfortable with nudity?" I just say I have no problem with it but the law says they need to be covered. It's sad though that I have to blame it on the laws because really I just wouldn't do that. But you don't want to risk offending someone and losing a client.
Merriweather: I'd really like to know what makes people think it's ok to go to a legitimate place of business and make a request like that.
T: Well it's insulting because it's an actual career and you need to attend a lot of schooling to be qualified and licensed but some clients act like you are only there to fulfill their sexual fantasies. In fact I even told one guy that maybe he should call an escort service. He told me that it was too expensive to pay the $100 an hour PLUS get a room, pay for any extras and a tip. It was just easier to get a massage and pay an extra 20 bucks!
Flora: So now that you own your own massage business, how do you handle the issue?
T: We've actually done a few things. We ask them to pay in advance and they sign a waiver acknowledging that there is no illegal activity and that if we ask them to leave for any reason, they will not get a refund. It may not stop the questions every time but at least we don't lose income anymore. It's sad though because really it's a few women who've ruined it for the rest of us because they're willing to do that. I went into massage to help people but some women have made it out to be something different.