Sex: Very Desperate Housewives
PERHAPS SAYING THERE wasn’t much out there is unfair. Rather, there wasn’t much that sounded like something I might do, regardless of how badly I was craving touch or company. Sure, there was the guy with the boa constrictor draped around his bare shoulders, whose typo-ridden ad offered cheap massages for the ladies. He actually seemed like one of the better options, because at least he was charging. Most of the other ads offering to service women were amateur men seeking sex, in the same way men seek sex in practically every other section of Craigslist. But these ads almost invariably used “massage” as a code word. I looked for other possible codes, such as “pool boy” or, grasping at straws, “private car washer,” but no dice. There was a lot of jabber about “tantra,” an Eastern practice that incorporates orgasm into its mostly spiritual course of study. Brian’s ad was different. What he was proposing sounded just like an ordinary massage. When you followed the ad to his website, Pleasinghandsmassage.com, however, it became clear: Brian markets himself as a legitimate, professional massage therapist who happens to massage everything. Specifically, everything on women. The website is no-nonsense, light on the flowery promises, and heavy on testimonials that include the e-mail addresses of his most satisfied clients. Brian ranges far and wide from his Jersey home to serve clients in the Philadelphia area — he travels with his folding massage table — and points beyond. In my mind, the distinction between this website and the other advertisements I’ve looked at is self-evident: This is something women would do.
Despite the close quarters at the counter of the Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal Market, Brian of Pleasing Hands Massage is unflinching about explicitly discussing the nature of his business. I can sense the ears of everyone around us perking up as I struggle through all the possible polite euphemisms for what makes Brian’s massages different from those available at a spa or gym: “full release,” “happy ending,” “complete full-body massage,” and his own “pleasing hands.” Brian, being in the business of making women feel comfortable in situations that could very quickly turn uncomfortable, patiently matches my euphemisms until I get over myself and come out with it: Genital massage. Clitoris. Orgasm.
“There are any number of reasons why my clients come to me,” Brian tells me. “Which is to say that there are any number of reasons why someone would feel the need to be touched. I work with sexual abuse survivors. I’ve served as sort of swinger training wheels for couples who are experimenting with the idea of opening their relationship. I’ve been the entertainment for girls’ weekends at the beach. I’ve helped some achieve their goal of G-spot ejaculation. I’ve worked on women whose husbands were impotent … pretty much you name it.” Brian doesn’t discriminate, as long as a prospective client is at least 18. His clients sometimes ask him whether he finds giving full-release massages arousing. “I can get aroused,” Brian says. “I’ve gotten aroused — but I’m there for the person I’m working on, not my needs.”