Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All About Paying Strangers to Touch Me

One of the few vices I have is the need to self-indulge and get a massage at least once a month.   Being both someone who can drive, and tends to use the computer for a larger part of each day, it is not uncommon for me to develop aches and pains along my back, leg, shoulder and neck areas.   Thankfully, in the Philippines there are many options available for one such as myself to find a great massage.  Each one of course has its own pros and cons.  One thing remains true however, the paid pampering is beautifully affordable especially when one considers how much such a service costs in North America and other countries.  The price for a full-body massage in Los Angeles costs the same amount of money for an extended three hour massage plus full day spa wet area services here.

Some people don't like massages because they're ticklish.  Thankfully, I'm not one of them.
Rather than elaborate on the health benefits and perceived medical therapeutic merits of a massage, I will leave that for you readers to just Google up.  Instead what I will talk about is how I feel about what makes a massage a good one, and how I feel about how the industry has been colored or affected by the gay peso.
It amazes me how many points in the body supposedly make another part of the body better.
But if this were the case, shouldn't martial arts thereby make someone healthier with each painful blow?
I am a sucker for being pampered big time.    After spending hours each day working at my laptop, or having to take long hourly drives to and from work, getting a massage is one of the many perks I look forward to having when the opportunity and budget permits.  I love having a strong, drawn out massage where the masseur takes time making sure every inch of me is properly and legally kneaded nicely.  I prefer my massages as hard and purposeful and appreciate those who really look for the areas where the knots and bumps have accumulated.   I hate masseurs who seem to be in a rush to finish the job, or are too preoccupied with other things rather than finding the right pressure points that need attention.  I recall this one spa I used to go to where the masseuses would be chatting away with each other about how much they've made or what new domestic problem has cropped up in their lives while we clients had our faces down against the bed hoping they'd shut up.

I also like it when the masseur stops trying too hard to either seem sensual or be too careful.  Some of them are too fixated at the misconception that all gay guys who get a massage are easily going to go for a cheap thrill that they try too hard to get you aroused.  I personally think its more embarrassing for the masseur than it is for me when I tell the guy, "Hindi yon ang pinunta ko dito." ("That's not what I came here for.")  Others, on the other hand, get too worried of making that kind of a signal that they do all these weird positions to keep from touching your leg, butt or back while maneuvering to find a comfortable position to work on your body.   I have told such masseurs before, "Just sit.  I don't mind.  Sit on my legs if it helps.  I rather you can focus on the massage then worry about where to rest your weight."
Thank God I found a spa where I can freely walk towel-free and just let it hang and relax.
And no, I'm not sharing what spa that is.
Nudity is a huge requirement for me when it comes to having a massage.  Most places seem to prefer that the client wear a pair of shorts (typically the kind held up with an elastic waistband which is provided by the spa) or that the client still wear underwear during the session.  In such cases, towels are then draped over the body and later on, curled up to be hooked against the shorts leg or padded over the buttocks when the underwear is brought lower for the buttocks and lower back portion of the massage.    I personally would rather be naked when I get my massage.  Being hairy, I've had times when the act of rolling the towel against the shorts ends up snagging some of my pubic or leg hair.  Painfully.  There have also been times when the masseur tries to pretend the shorts aren't there and continue the massage as normal, but all he accomplishes is having his fingers fumble against a cloth layer than greatly diffuses the impact of the massage.   

What I find a bit disheartening, however, is how there seems to be a misconception that massages have to be equated to something sensual or even sexual the moment the client is someone who is gay.  The moment a guy like me asks for a masseur instead of a masseuse, the sexual implications are quickly brought up one way or another.  The kind of massage shifts from shiatsu to something else with repeated accidental brushings of a hand or lingering finger against one's scrotum or ass.  Occasionally the oil bottle is innocently dropped between one's thighs for frequent frictionless contacts with the inner thighs.  On thankfully rarer occasions, you get everything from casual "readjusting your penis" from the area being massaged, to direct nipple stimulation, to downright suggestive requests.   I recall one masseur asking me after a particularly relaxing session lead to me getting a chubby (which was less due to him and more due to me having a tall glass water before the massage.), "Sir gusto mo ba ng hot tea o cold water?" ("Sir, do you want hot tea or cold water?)  The message seemed quite out of place considering I was practically falling asleep that moment and on hindsight must have been some kind of coded offer.  It seems he mistook my need to pee as an invitation to offer something extracurricular.   Even conversations among gay friends about getting good home-based massages quickly degenerate to rumors as to which masseur tends to do "certain things."  In many ways, this mindset was further popularized by recent indie movies that tackled the industry (although I sense the filmmakers would very easily make a case that they only made "visible" what has been going on all this time.)

Try looking for "The Masseur" or "Ang Masahista"  which despite having some scenes that seem to linger too much on the sexual nature of massages, is a really well written, beautifully shot movie.
And while I will admit that there can be some erotic level of flirty fun in the idea that a guy will run his hands all over another guy to make him feel good, I don't exactly find myself looking for the cheap thrills of wandering fingers whose touches against my body are more born from the desire to make more money.  

I do wish though that there were more interesting and yet legal massage options available.  A friend of mine once shared how he was able to get a massage while on a trip abroad which was accomplished by the masseuse using her mouth the whole time.  There was also the other massage a friend of mine indulged in where two women massaged him all over with the use of those scrubbing gloves.  It was like being licked by two gentle tigers, he called it.   Or maybe something as simple as having two masseurs rub you down at the same time.  However, I don't see how such massages would ever been deemed acceptable here in the Philippines.  Considering the Lingam massage issue that lead to the raiding of numerous massage establishments (some of which were admittedly not of the legal kind) in Cebu and Marinduque, and how there are groups already preparing to cry scandal over such a decent condom commercial such as this:

I highly doubt the country would ever be able to have anything more interesting than the standard offers any time soon.  Somehow I sense one would sooner see a legally protected group devoted to supporting discrimination than a greater open-minded viewpoint begin to exist in this country.  Oh wait, that already is happening.

Ultimately, I wish people were more aware that spas are not bath houses, and that massages are not automatically opportunities for cheap thrills or shallow sex.  I do find myself wondering though, would offering a prostate massage be a good next step in the evolution of a more socially acceptable massage place?

Pamper Package! Full body Shiatsu Massage + Body Wash + Prostate Massage for only...
uh, not gonna happen.  :-)
Currently, my partner and I have been looking into the possibility of home-based massage services.   Typically, I drive us to a nearby spa to get a massage, which tends to have me driving a sleepy boyfriend back home through heavy traffic.  A home-based option would allow me to get enough relaxation as well as reduce the horror of traversing Manila's traffic-laden streets.  Our first few attempts have been interesting with their own share of fun anecdotes, but that I will save for another blogpost in the future.  For now, I'm just gonna relax for a bit.    After all, when one get's a massage, being able to relax is the ultimate goal.  Or at least, it should be.


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