Aug 22, 2010

[Technicolor Musings] Male Massage, But Hold The ES Please!

Massage tablesImage via WikipediaMy partner introduced me to the wonderful world of massages and health spas when we first started going out. Admittedly, it's a highly self-indulgent activity that I've really come to enjoy over the course of our one year+ of being together, yet one that I share with him. How I managed to survive on this planet for more than a quarter of a century without going for a full spa venture is beyond me, and I'm supposed to gay after all, right? That is, of course,if you buy into the stereotype that the two are synonymous.

I have to admit that a lot of my initial hestitation about going to spas is the bad reputation a lot of these places get because all those stories about "happy endings" and "extra services". Movies and TV shows love indulging in such fantasies and quite a number of pornographic films have exploited the concept extensively. It's not exactly a huge leap in logic, I have to admit. You have a person mostly naked on a massage bed. Add in a skilled masseur with obviously strong and dexterous hands. And then you add in the gay element and there you go.

As part of my initial foray into massage services and health spas, there has come the inevitable stigma when it comes to looking for male massage therapists. For some reason, this is synonymous to looking for a hook-up of some kind, or at the very least a hand job. What the hell, right? The notion appalled me, especially since I was now part of this sub-section of the population that gets massages. But as I started to explore the world further, I can see it's not just a local misconception (like how we confuse the use of the term "bisexual").

If you run a Google search for the term "male massage" (and this without setting country limits or other advanced search options), your first 3-5 results are going to be for gay male masseur search tools and directories. One could interpret this to mean that more often than not, it's the queer population that looks for male masseurs as opposed to female ones. I suppose this ties into traditional heterosexual notions about what is socially acceptable for guys (bros just don't touch other bros that way, man!) or the nastier stuff too.

And yes, you'll get similar results if you add local cities like Manila, Makati or Quezon City to your search parameter.

However, I don't want any of the extra stuff (and don't start gasping and claiming I'm being a prude). I mean seriously, I go to these places since I want a good massage that really clears up all the aches and pains in my body. I do not want to get all relaxed only to have some sad straight masseur try to get a rise from me at the end so that they can earn a little extra money. My first few ventures to Wensha were thankfully free of such efforts.

But there was that one time my partner brought me to Sanctuario in Malate so I could experience it and I wanted to laugh while on the massage bed while I was being propositioned. Yes, the masseur actually leaned in close after massages way too close to the family jewels to ask if everything was all right and if I needed anything else. This is the part when a Monty Python character would be going "Wink, wink, nudge, nudge" and all that.

However, when one starts making the rounds of the various sites to see what there is to see, you end up with a mix of the disturbing and the just plain sad. Let's look at a few of them now, shall we?

One of the best examples is Hilom Spa Center. Their main landing page seems decent and generic enough but when you get to their promotions page...

Hilom Spa


...you get this. Yeah, this really discusses their discount price packages in detail for sure. And knowing how the masseurs look like (in ridiculous poses to boot!) is totally essential to our decision-making process.

It gets even better with the spas that only utilize Multiply as their website base. At least Hot Touch Massage still tries to seem decent with semi-professional photos of their therapists. But then you get sites like Brave Art Men Spa with odd photos of their male therapists by some water fall. Equanimity Spa drops pretenses and calls their masseurs "models" instead. And Eaglenest Health & Spa has winner captions like this:

Eaglenest Health & Spa
Yeah, I really want to "look this baby face" in person, LOL


So sadly, the local male massage scene is teeming with ads of this nature. The spas seem to feel obligated to ensure that we hire masseurs based on their appearance instead of actual massage skill. I find this horribly annoying since quite frankly I tend to keep my eyes closed during a massage. Sure, I'd love to ogle a cute guy anytime except when I'm getting a massage since I want to relax and enjoy the pampering. This means me closing my eyes and not wanting to hear the therapist engage in small talk or try to convince me to get some "hot tea" instead of "cold water", as one spa supposedly discusses it. So even if he were cute, (1) I would probably not see him since my eyes are closed, (2) in other most cases, the massage area tends to have the lights dimmed so you can't even see the therapist clearly and (3) no matter how cute he may potentially by, I wouldn't want to sleep with him - especially if additional money is involved!

And the home service market seems even worse. Somehow the translation of "home service" has merged with the notion of "escorts" and this is not the case. Especially for guys like my partner and I.

Cheap thrills are fun and all but I think it's more than fair to be offended when they assume all we want are the "extra services". I'm a firm believer that no one should ever have to pay for sex. Sure, it's all about physical pleasure but there will always be some degree of emotional connection too. And that includes the turned-on feeling one gets when you know that your sexual partner wants to sleep with you instead of a guy who is just willing to sleep with you for money. Where's the self-esteem and respect in that kind of an alternative? I'd rather have the guy getting turned on by the experience and perhaps even begging to engage in sexual activity rather than the emotionless and demeaning experience of having him going through the motions in effort to get more money.

This not about me being a prude or being choosy. This is about me having enough self-respect for myself to know that I would never have to resort to paying for sex in any more. All the more I wouldn't ever lower my opinion of myself to want to even engage in the highly minimal sexual favors granted by such male massage therapists - I'd be better of "self-servicing" for all the passion and effort they put into such ventures. And nor should any of you reading this entry, regardless of your sexual orientation. Everyone has their market and you just need to continue to believe in love and leave yourself open to it - then that's most of the job done already.

And for all your massage businesses out there, stop insulting us this way! I don't mind paying a bit more if it means a better quality massage instead of a disjoint one where the masseur spends more effort trying to get us to "bite" and go for the happy ending. I get massages since I want him to work on the knots in my muscles and address the pain in my legs in feet. And I'd like to believe that there's still a greater segment of the population that has the same thinking in mind for such ventures.

Enough with the assumptions. If you really want to sleep with the masseur, try asking for his number and see where things go from there. If you're lucky, he'll be gay too. If you're not lucky, then hope for the best that he at leasts gives an effective massage for your pains.

These days, my partner and I have narrowed our list of preferred massages to Wensha, because of the rates and the decent massages along with their facilities and a straighter spa (hence older female therapists) somewhere in Pasay City. We're considering trying some that are closer to home like Amistad and we're still exploring the home massage universe for decent and trustworthy masseurs who won't question why we're not "getting a rise" from their ministrations. We have one reliable one based on the referral of a friend and hopefully he won't be the last decent one we'll find in the Metro.

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