Twice in my professional career I have had to field an inquiry from some bung-brain who not only seemed to want erotic services, but had gone to pains to obtain, in his quest, the contact information of a legitimate, fully trained and certified massage therapist from a school or professional directory. Perhaps a thrill of the truly forbidden is involved. Perhaps it was a police sting.
Twenty years ago it was the Californian in search of Testicular Acu-Crap, or so my late and ex husband dubbed it after I had spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone with someone who wanted a two hour appointment (I don’t do that) and wanted to tell me all about his massages at Esalen where both parties are naked (I don’t do that either). When he got around to specifying his need for testicular acupressure, which I assure you for the record is not a thing, I instantly referred him to a friend who was actually trained in acupressure: “his name is” — click. The Late and Ex, a theater veteran, spent the rest of the evening performing grotesque and hilarious pantomimes, so the whole thing was at least good for a laugh.
This morning it was the runner. He had gotten my information from the directory of members maintained by the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, to whom I dutifully pay two hundred bucks every year so I can tell the state licensing people I belong to a professional association with ethical standards of conduct and have insurance in case someone falls off the table and breaks something. Every so often their magazine has a good article about butts or the bicipital aponeuroses. No one has ever called me from their directory before.
He had a “Duathlon” on Sunday, he said, which is not what the event is usually called, but I let it pass because in my experience competitive runners — forgive me — are often flakey. They are prone to call at the last minute, they are hyperfocused on running and only on running, and they seem to have a higher incidence of adult attention deficit than the general population. I have one who constantly tries to text my land line. This was all more or less in character. So was an exchange of two or three e-mails in which he failed to mention his last name, brusquely phrased in near text-speak and peppered with LOLs. It wasn’t that odd for someone who might well have matured in the Internet age to ask about a website, but when he asked me to “share a picture so he would know who he was dealing with” I gave him the right about. “If you need to see my picture before booking a massage, I am probably not the kind of massage person you want. Good luck!”
I probably just should have sent him here.
Once again, friends and neighbors, for some ideas whose time has come, you should pardon the expression:
1. Sex workers ought to have legal status, within a reasonable framework of age limits and reduction of risk to the public; “escort” or “prostitute” should be an acceptable answer to the question of occupation on one’s tax return. I have had clients who were escorts — adults selling a service to other adults, with long-time repeat customers. People, in other words — working stiffs, you might even say. Sex work has been with us forever; it may squick some people out, but making it less safe hardly makes it less squicky, and legal status would spare police resources to go after the people who really are trafficking fourteen-year olds or terrified immigrants with no visas.
2. Sex workers should be protected from unfair labor practices and exploitation, harassment by customers or law enforcement, and discrimination in other employment, housing and what have you.
3. Sex workers should be able to market their services subject to the same sorts of zoning restrictions that we apply to legitimate businesses that are not always appropriate in every locale, from auto body shops to night clubs, so that they DO NOT HAVE TO, goddammit, pretend they are offering “massage.” Making it clear, to anyone with a brain, that people offering massage are offering that and only that.
And then some LOLling anus would not be annoying a sixty-year-old, very grouchy lady at ten in the morning, dancing her around on e-mail for half an hour about massage styles and dates, and then asking for her picture.
You would hope.